The Who, What, Where, When and Why of Genre

Genre: What is it, and why do you need it?

According to Merriam-Webster, genre is: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content.

The most general genres:

  • Epic
  • Tragedy
  • Comedy
  • Novel
  • Short story

Classic genres may include tragedy, science fiction, fantasy, mythology, adventure, mystery.

Other major book genres are: drama, romance, action-adventure, thriller, young adult (YA), and dystopian.

I could go on all day, creating and populating these lists. Yes, there are that many, and I haven’t even mentioned the sub-genres. I could probably even come up with some sub-sub-genres.

Over the next few weeks, as sugarplums dance in your heads, you fuss over what to put in the children’s stockings, and marathon cookie bake (maybe that’s just me), we’ll be addressing genres here at Inspired Prompt. You needed a distraction, right?

Maybe you just completed NaNoWriMo and you need to sharpen the genre of your manuscript to get it ready.

A new year is beginning in just a few weeks. Maybe one of your resolutions is to finally start that book! But, how do you know what genre to write? Start writing and hope to find a niche?

It’s usually better to know up front, before you begin. The superheroes of Inspired Prompt are here to help guide you through the maze. Umm. Humor is another genre in fiction, by the way.

So, how do you figure it all out? Here’s a clue:

What do you like to read? If you love mysteries, you’ll probably write mysteries. I love historical fiction. Most of the books I’ve written have been…you guessed it, historical fiction. But I also write suspense. Historical suspense is another genre I loved to read, as a young adult.

Should you stick with one? You may want to begin with one. Become an “expert,” then try something else. Don’t be surprised, though, if you end up back at the first one. Some famous authors never write anything else. Stephen King, for instance, and Nora Roberts. Hey, it works for them.

Like the adage KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), sometimes it’s best to stay with what you know. Unless you’re miserable there and end up being a square peg in a round hole. Yes, this paragraph is overrun with clichés, but I hope you get the picture.

The Who, What, Where, When and Why of Genre? It’s what we’re talking about in December. [Click to Tweet]

As we introduce our subtopics, I hope you’ll get involved by asking questions or sharing your own experiences and expertise.

If we have helped you with your writing, please let us know. That would be as special as a gift. Yes, one of the best of all gifts is to know that what you’re doing is of value to someone else.WRITING PROMPT: Suspense or romance? Add a sentence to this prompt to give it either a suspenseful slant, or a romantic one: The man outside Mary’s door stood with his back to her, but there was something familiar about him.

Motivated by Many: One Writers Perspective

By Cammi Woodall

This was a hard article for me. I am supposed to explain how an author inspired me. How do I pick just one? In Icebound, Dean Koontz wrote a scene of a man underwater struggling to break through the ice. I found myself holding my breath along with him! Stephen King’s imagery and turn of phrase has scared me, sickened me, enlightened me, and encouraged me. And who didn’t cry when Dobby died? How could you, J.K. Rowling?

I decided to fudge a little and write about three different ladies close to home who have inspired me.  Please forgive me, Jennifer and Betty (the blog administrators)!

In 2006, my sister and I took a class offered by our local Board of Education, called “As the Pen Spins”. It was a writing seminar taught by a great lady named Jane Carroll. To start the first class, we all had to stand up, introduce ourselves, and tell what we do.

I said, “Hi, my name is Cammi and I work in a bank.”

She challenged us to reintroduce ourselves and say, “My name is Cammi and I am a writer!”

I did not have the exclamation point in my voice when I stood up in class but much more of a question mark. Me, a writer? In my mind, that word conjured up the New York Times bestsellers list, contracts, agents, movie rights. I was a bank teller who scribbled ideas on scraps of paper and hid them away from the world. Who was I to call myself a writer?

Jane taught me that a writer is simply one who writes. Quantity doesn’t count, only the fact that you write and do not stop. Did you compose one line about the beauty of the morning sunrise? Did you write an article for your company’s newsletter? Did you pen a short funny story for your grandkids? Then, my friend, you are a writer. Stand up and say it out loud! Thank you, Jane!

Jennifer Hallmark, one of the moderators for this site, inspires me in several ways. She was in that first class with my sister and me. I can still remember her saying, “I’m really just interested in learning more about writing articles.” She has certainly done that in abundance, but Jennifer is also the proud owner of a book contract for a fictional novel. (I am not jealous, I am not jealous, I am not jealous!)

She has grown as a writer and gone down different paths to find her way. I never considered writing articles until she asked me last year to contribute to this blog. Now, thanks to her, I have a few articles posted here and am scheduled for more later in the year. This lady has definitely made me jump out of my comfort zone and find some new paths of my own! Thank you, Jennifer!

My sister Holly is a writer in a different situation. As a United Methodist preacher, she faces the challenges of caring for her congregation’s needs and helping them grow in the Lord’s way. Each week, she writes a sermon that is God-given and inspirational, and each week she teaches me something new. I face enough of a struggle writing an article occasionally for a blog so I admire the strength and courage she brings to her calling.

Holly also inspires me with encouragement and gave me my favorite compliment I’ve received about my writing. While looking over an article I’d done about Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption, she said, “You have such an easy style. It reminds me a lot of Stephen King. Not the horror, but like you are sitting here with me telling a story. I like reading your work.” Bring on the tingles of excitement, tears of joy, and the blush of embarrassment! A simple compliment but one I hold close to my heart. Thank you, dear sister!

Do you have an author who inspires you in your writing? I certainly hope so. But how about this? Go be that inspiration for someone. Give encouragement, offer to read, spread the word about their accomplishments. You never know what action you take will resonate with another and stay on their heart. Who knows? You could end up in an article!

Writing prompt “At least it is over now.”

She shook her head. “No, I am afraid it has just begun.”

Click to tweet: Go inspire someone, a writer. Give encouragement, offer to read, spread the word about their accomplishments. You never know what action you take will resonate with another and stay on their heart. #amwriting #motivation

3 Questions Wednesday with Fay Lamb

Today’s guest is author, Fay Lamb.

Welcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday, Fay. First question:

What inspires you?

Fay: Well, let’s get the truth out there first. Coffee. Have you ever sat down in the morning with your cup of coffee made the way you like it? You drink that coffee, and the caffeine seems to seep into whatever part of your brain provides motivation. You start thinking you can do anything. You make a list. You jot down ideas for a story. You’re invincible.

In my writing, I am inspired by many things. Locations get the creative juices running. My Amazing Grace series is based on a real area in Western North Carolina. Yet, in my novel Better Than Revenge, the heroine wasn’t connecting with me. She stood off to the side, aloof, daring me to get to know her. Then one day, my husband and I were driving around the area, and I was looking for a farmhouse because Issie lived in her grandparents’ old farmhouse she’d renovated. And there it was, this fantastic two-story white-framed farmhouse with a swing in the front yard, a field of corn to the right, and in the backyard between the house and the beautiful red barn were vegetable boxes. I saw them as Issie’s personal garden and the corn as her crop. Then to the side of the barn, there was a field and two cows grazing there. And Issie whispered into my ear, “You found me.”

Actors provide me with all types of ideas. I’ll admit it. Usually, it’s their looks that catch my attention, but then I look into the roles they’ve played. In my novel, Charisse, I have had readers tell me who they see as the hero, Gideon, and they saw him exactly as I saw him. He is one actor, but his character is based on two entirely different roles he played. One was an adventure/comedy where I realized for the first time that the guy could really act and had taken roles beneath his abilities. The other movie was one of the few dramas he has starred in. The subject was intense, and his character was likable but cautious, perfect for a multi-dimensional character.

A Bible verse or a Bible story has been an inspiration for me in a couple of novels. One is Libby. If anyone knows me, they know I tend to joke about my looks and about breaking cameras, and I see myself as great fodder for comedy, but God says in Psalm 139:14 that I’m fearfully and wondrously made, and that was the lesson Libby has to learn—in between a lot of hilarious matchmaking and some sad moments of truth. And my upcoming novel, set to release in March, is the biblical retelling of the aftermath of David’s sin with Bathsheba.

And lastly, a moment in time can be an inspiration. My novel Hope deals with serious matters from healing to forgiveness, but from the very start, one backdrop was set for that story: the Central Florida fair, and more particularly the carousel. I’ll admit that the moment in time was not on a carousel, and it was not as poignant for me, but my friend was there, and that is an important part of that storyline. In fact, the moment that brought to mind the carousel, as embarrassing as it was is still considered the most horrifying moment of my life as well as the one that can still bring me to laughter that causes tears to run down my face.

There’s inspiration in many forms here. I especially love the “moment in time.” This is so true. Sometimes we miss those moments, or don’t really appreciate them.

I almost hesitate to ask this one: You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Fay: Interesting question, and more interesting that I didn’t have to think much about it.

I’d be turquoise because it goes well with black. Turquoise alone doesn’t ever stand out for me, but when you wear it with something black, it pops. And I know you want a better explanation than that, so here goes. I consider myself pretty bland when I’m just going through life, everything is okay. I don’t naturally look for the humor around me. I’m turquoise. But when I am sad, there is a darkness inside. When I use that term, I don’t mean it as evil. It’s just that my thoughts could turn to the morose. Depression doesn’t suit my brain, so it automatically begins to look for humor. Let’s take the moment I alluded to above—the Hope inspiration.

I was with my friend at the Central Florida Fair. We decided to go into the fun house. However, at the end of the fun house was a turning cylinder. My friend, an agile, gymnast and later a Disney dancer made her way easily across. Me, the clumsy person who fell off the inch-high balance beam in gym, hesitated. I was challenged by the ride’s operator to hurry across. So, the proverbial light bulb shined above my dim head. I’d hold on to the side and make my way over.

And you can imagine what happened next. My hand against the rotating cylinder began to pull me downward. I found myself on the ground, the cylinder taking me up and down, up and down, and the crowd growing outside and the laughter turning into a roar. I could see my friend laughing for all she was worth (and she’s worth a lot to me). And behind her stood my aunt and uncle who took us to the fair—laughing at their beloved niece. Finally, I guess after he stopped laughing, the ride’s operator climbed in and helped me out.

Now, I could cover the turquoise with black and mutter that I’m a clumsy idiot and hate the recall of the memory, or I could layer the outfit with turquoise and make a funny story out of my ability to be a carnival sideshow act without any effort. Life is easy when I’m wearing turquoise, but it is more interesting when I combine it with the black.

Lol! I’m not sure at this point, whether to laugh or be embarrassed for you–never mind–I’m laughing too hard to write sensibly. About that color turquoise–“Complex, imaginative and original, Turquoise people drive themselves hard and may be in a state of turmoil under their outwardly cool exterior.”–according to my favorite color website. Um…I think it may be fairly accurate, what say you?

Now, one last question:

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Fay: This is going to be the shortest answer you’ll get from me. From the time I remember thinking, I was a storyteller. I never wanted to be anything but a writer, and after taking my high school aptitude test, I was informed that my best track for my life would be either as a librarian or a writer. I answered back that there was only one choice. I would be a writer. While I took a series of detours that proved the aptitude test wrong, I still wrote. Each detour added to the growing collection of stories I have carried with me since I began as a storyteller all those years ago.

I’m not at all surprised by that answer! I love your stories and look forward to many more. Thanks so much for participating in 3 Questions Wednesday.

Readers! You can win a copy of Fay’s latest release, Frozen Notes. Read more about the book below, then leave a comment in the comment section. Feel free to ask Fay a question, or let us know you’d love a chance to win the book. Thanks for joining us at 3 Questions Wednesday.

CLICK TO TWEET: #3QuestionsWednesday provides readers with inside information on author Fay Lamb #amreading


More about today’s guest:

Fay Lamb

Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories with a Romans 8:28 attitude, reminding readers that God is always in the details. Fay donates 100% of her royalties to Christian charities. Currently, Fay will be donating her royalties from the second quarter of 2017 through December 31 (royalties paid March 31), to Samaritan’s Purse Relief Fund to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma and any other relief the organization feels necessary.

Fay’s fourth book in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, Frozen Notes brings to a close stories of intrigue and suspense and reveals to her readers the secrets of one of the series reoccurring characters from the first three novels, Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken.

Fay is also the author of The Ties that Bind Series, which includes Charisse, Libby, and Hope. The fourth story in the series, Delilah, will be coming soon.

Fay’s adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Readers of Fay Lamb’s fiction can look forward to her Serenity Key series, with her epic novel Storms in Serenity set for release in March 2018.


Frozen Notes by Fay Lamb

Lyric Carter’s dreams of fame and fortune in a rock band ended the day Balaam Carter left to pursue their dreams without her. When Balaam’s brother promised to love and protect Lyric and to love her son, Cade—his brother, Balaam’s child—as his own, she believed him. But Braedon turned her dreams into a nightmare by killing Balaam’s best friend, turning the gun on himself, and placing Lyric in the middle of a criminal investigation that could leave her and Cade dead.

Balaam Carter’s every dream has come true, but he’s living in a nightmare of addiction and regret. The famous rock star would give everything he has to return to the girl he once held in his arms—back when his only crime was running moonshine for his father. Now, he’s seeking redemption for all the destruction his dreams have brought to the people he loves.

No one said the road to recovery would be easy, but Balaam is also desperate to protect Lyric and the little boy he left behind from a state full of drug lords who believe Lyric has the evidence that will tumble their lucrative cartels. Balaam’s continued sobriety, his natural ability for finding his way out of trouble, and his prayers to God above for the strength to never let them down again are all that he has to protect Lyric and his son, and still, he doesn’t know if he’s up for the task.

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Michelle Griep at Bleakly Manor

Michelle Griep is an author, blogger, and occasional super-hero when her cape is clean.

Dare I be so bold as to call myself an author? Being that I’m one of those freaks who attended poetry workshops instead of summer camp during my formative years, yes, I will. While other teens busied themselves throwing parties when their parents weren’t home, I was the nerd holed up in my room with pen and paper.

And a princess–No, I’m not currently on medication for delusions of grandeur. I am a daughter of a King. Seriously. I take the Bible as inspired truth and that’s what it says (Romans 8:16, 17). [from MichelleGriep.com]

Michelle, welcome back to the Writing Prompts blog. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Michelle: I’m a reformed chocoholic who lives with my husband, psychotic dog, and the last of my birdie’s that hasn’t yet flown the nest. I teach at a local high school homeschool co-op once a week, three classes: civics, creative writing, and U.S. History & Literature. Way back when dinosaurs roamed the face of the earth and I worked full-time outside the home, I was a typesetter. Yeah. Those jobs pretty much don’t exist anymore. Good thing I took up writing, eh?

Right. I remember that one. But for those who are too young to remember–here’s the definition: “the process of setting material in type or into a form to be used in printing; also :  the process of producing graphic matter (as through a computer system).” [Webster’s Online Dictionary]

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Michelle: I write historical romance with a healthy dose of action and adventure tossed in. Why? Because those are my favorite sorts to read!

Mine too!

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Michelle: When I first started writing, I totally winged it, not knowing where the story would go or how it would end. That’s a great way to write . . . if you don’t have a deadline! Now that I have contracts lined up in a row, I need to create an outline for each story just to save time and keep on track.

That’s good advice, too, for those who may be working under the same time constraints.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Michelle: It depends on the day. Sometimes it’s hard to “feel” creative, but yet I still need to create words that will grab people by the throat. I wouldn’t call that writer’s block, per se, but more like sluggish writer syndrome. Hey, there’s a blog post, hmm?

Oh yes, I’m a little too familiar with sluggish writer syndrome.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Michelle: I’ll still be writing stories. I can’t stop. I love it too much. And if my dreams come true, I’d be doing that writing while living in England.manorhouse, English, countryside

What a wonderful dream! Well, I love the cover of this book (see below). And I’m very curious about Bleakly Manor. I have to confess, I picked up a copy of your book, Captive Heart in our local Lifeway, and I had to be dragged out of the store. The story captured me from the start. Big fan, here! So, I’m definitely going to take a look at this one.

Readers, you can find Michelle’s books on Amazon for easy purchase, or you can find them in stores. Here’s the link to her Amazon author page: Michelle Griep on Amazon

Thanks so much for being our guest for a Saturday Interview. I hope you’ll stop back in next year, or any time you have a new book out.


12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Click to Tweet: Getting to know #histfic #author Michelle Griep http://wp.me/p2YFil-35w #romance 12 Days At Bleakly Manor

Want to know more about Michelle’s books? Check out these reviews!

Trisha Robertson’s Joy of Reading
Amanda Geaney’s Christian Shelf Esteem
Beth Erin’s Faithfully Bookish

Where to find Michelle:

Writer Off The Leash (blog)

Michelle Griep (Website)

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