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3.2 The uses of genre

There are two central uses of genre for any writer:

  • You might wish to write within a particular genre; in which case, your question is – what are the defining characteristics, and possible ‘rules’ of that genre? Here, ‘reading as a writer’ is clearly important. The best way to see how to do this is to see how others have done it. Read and familiarise yourself with the specific ‘tricks of the trade’ to achieve that genre’s particular effect.
  • You might not wish to write within a specific genre. In this case, it’s useful to know about genre for a number of reasons. First, to avoid unwittingly writing in such a way that you will be categorised within a particular genre. Second, you might wish to ‘borrow’ characteristics from any number of genres. An example of this is Peter Høeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, where elements of romance, thriller, crime and historical drama all feature in a bestselling literary novel.