So, it’s the holiday season and as winter pulls the frost up over your window, you might feel inclined to snuggle up with your pen, pad, or laptop (and a snack and a mug of eggnog of course), and start writing! Fiction writers, especially sci-fi and fantasy writers, need a lot of internal motivation to build their amazing worlds and characters. So let’s do it together with Colby’s Christmas Countdown! As you countdown to Christmas Day, here are 25 holiday writing tips to help you along in your fiction journey! You might want to grab a special writing notebook to keep all your exercises in one place, too. By the end, you’ll have months worth of material to launch you into writing your novel series! 🙂

Tip #3: Pick Your Genre(s)

This is a science fiction and fantasy blog, so many of you may wonder: “What does Colby mean by ‘pick a genre’? We already have one!” Well, as you may know (or not), there are different sub-genres of sci-fi and fantasy. You’ve got steampunk, cyberpunk, biopunk, hard sci-fi, soft sci-fi, feminist sci-fi, space opera, space western, apocalyptic, military sci fi, paranormal romance, horror, and much more. You also might be like me and love to combine genres! Either way, you need to actually figure out which genre(s) you’re writing in. Why? Because each genre has a certain set of rules and conventions that you need to be aware of, and to some extent, abide by. You should also be at least vaguely familiar with other works in your genre so that you aren’t repeating concepts, story lines, or tropes. ALSO, writing in a certain genre gives you helpful parameters and a healthy supply of ideas to work with off the bat. You’ve gotta know the rules before you break ’em, baby!

Activity of the (Holi)DAY: Increase your self awareness, and ask yourself the following questions: 1) What do I love to read? At the bookstore, which sections am I naturally drawn to? 2) When I sit down to write, what worlds naturally speak to me? Worlds of wizards and dragons? Police procedurals? 3) Make a list of your favorite books. 4) Looking back on your answers to questions 1-3, if you could pick five genres or “mixed genres” that you would read and write in, what would they be? Find your genres and make a list!

How I Did It: I thought long and hard on the kinds of books I like to read. Moreover, I started paying more attention to the themes that I’m drawn to naturally when I write. There is always a female heroine (0r heroines) at the center of my stories, and I like snappy dialogue. I also realized that I’ve always loved mysteries and cop / detective stories (I grew up on Nancy Drew), ESPECIALLY noir stories. I absolutely adore Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and gangster stories, mob stories, guns, and hard liquor (hardboiled, baby). I’m also huge fan of dystopian / apocalyptic fiction and dark fantasy, and I LOVE horror (psychological and otherwise). These are the genres I’m naturally drawn to as a reader. So naturally, as a writer I write in these genres. Moreover, I LOVE combining them, and “The Books of Ezekiel” is evidence of that!

Stay tuned, because in our next Countdown, we’re going to build off of this activity and look at how to “Tweak Genres” to bring something new to the fiction world!

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby