Imagine your place on the bookshelf of the future

Christina Demosthenous, Editor, Headline

You’re thinking of writing a genre novel. It could be a razor-sharp thriller, a heart-warming love story or a fantasy novel that’s out of this world. So where do you start? How do you stand out from the crowd? How much should you defy convention – if at all? I imagine these are the sorts of questions that are plaguing you.

My advice is to start with a killer hook. Genre fiction is all about sucking readers in with a stand-out premise. It doesn’t matter that you’re writing yet another romance that everyone knows will end happily ever after. It’s doesn’t matter that you’re introducing yet another Detective Inspector to the world. Your novel needn’t be clichéd. You can be original. It all lies in that all-important hook! Don’t be afraid to push boundaries and innovate.

Try to boil down your plot into a one-line pitch. Something that you could reel off to someone at a dinner party or in an elevator that would sell your book. Imagine it was the single thing you could say about your novel – you want to feel safe in the knowledge that it’s doing your book – and you – justice. This is what agents and editors are looking for: a one line pitch to knock readers’ socks off. If you’re struggling, perhaps your narrative is too complicated or too fuzzy. But don’t despair or feel like you need to throw your ideas away – they can always be reshaped or reworked.

Finally, be excited! Genre readers are looking for addictive stories, larger-than-life characters, thrilling worlds and their next go-to author. That could be you…