Genre Expectations, Tips for Publishing Success (Part 1 of 2)

Ep 13 Genre Expectations, Tips for Publishing Success Part 1/2 - How To Write the Future

Science fiction novelist Beth Barany shares 3 tips for publishing success in this new How To Write The Future podcast episode.

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Image of Beth BaranyBeth Barany is an award-winning novelist, master neurolinguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers, including being a workshop leader & keynote speaker. Beth has published books in several genres including young adult fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mystery.

Learn more about Beth Barany at these sites:

Author siteCoaching site / School of Fiction / Writer’s Fun Zone blog



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Genre Guide by Joe Bunting

7 Essential Story Types by Pages and Platforms


“When we speak of our genre, readers come to our work, knowing generally what’s going to happen.”

In this first of a two-episodes series, creativity coach and science fiction/fantasy novelist Beth Barany shares 3 tips for your publishing success and talks about understanding genres and genres expectations, including how you can use different tropes in your fiction writing.


The How To Write The Future podcast is for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to write positive futures and successfully bring those stories out into the marketplace. Hosted by Beth Barany, science fiction novelist and creativity coach for writers.

Tips for fiction writers!

This podcast is for you if you have questions like:

  • How do I create a believable world for my science fiction story?
  • How do figure what’s not working if my story feels flat?
  • How do I make my story more interesting and alive?

This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity.


Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist, certified creativity coach for writers, and a workshop facilitator. In addition to her how-to books for writers, Beth has published books in several genres including young adult fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mystery.

TRANSCRIPT 13. Genre Expectations, Tips for Publishing Success (Part 1 of 2)

Hey science fiction and fantasy authors, would you like to get more exposure for your books, and get some support to uncover story ideas, enhance story cohesion, and get some ideas for marketing?

Then sign up for my 30 minute Story Success Clinic.

Every 30-minute story success clinic is recorded and gets aired as an episode of the How To Write The Future podcast.

So sign up today. The link is in the show notes. And now let’s get on with the show.



Hi everyone. Welcome to our next episode of How to Write the Future. This is a podcast for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to create optimistic stories because when we vision what is possible, we help make it so.

I’m your host, Beth Barany. I am a science fiction and fantasy writer myself and a creativity coach, focusing on helping science fiction and fantasy authors with their stories.

intro take 2

Beth 01:02

In the next two episodes, I am going to dive into three tips for your publishing success.

These tips are about succeeding in the marketplace as a science fiction or fantasy writer or a writer of speculative fiction. The first tip is about really understanding genre and genre expectations.

Of course, I will define what I mean by this and help you get your bearings around genre.

In the second episode. I will talk about tips number two and three, because they really go together.

So tip number two is about believing and trusting in your unique vision as a storyteller. And tip number three is about getting feedback that will help you reinforce your unique vision. All right. Let’s dive in.

One of the biggest things that stops writers from editing their novel and seeing the finish line of their project or even considering their book getting published or finding an agent or self publishing is they don’t know exactly what they’ve created.

And therefore they feel like there’s no space for them in the marketplace.

This uncertainty and doubt and worry and fear often has them stalling, leaving their manuscript behind, and basically forgetting about their project and still sometime in the future, sometime later, something happens, could be five years, 10 years. They realize this project is really important to them.

They pick the book back up and they find me.

As a writing coach, I’m often talking to writers who are super passionate about their story, but very afraid about bringing it out into the marketplace because of these concerns. Totally totally legitimate.

To me, this means the writer knows their book has to fit somehow into the marketplace, but they don’t know how it fits.

And I totally get it. They want to have confidence when they bring their book to an agent or an editor, or even if they decide to self publish.

We writers want to feel proud about what we’ve created, and if we’re going to take the time to bring it into the marketplace, then we want to know it’s going to sell. But this has been a big choke point for a lot of writers.

And writers come to me because there’s a sense of it’s in the science fiction or fantasy realm, but they’re not quite sure. And it doesn’t look like anything they see exactly out there in the marketplace.

So, this is why I really recommend that you take the time to understand genre..

What is genre? What do we mean by it? And how can that help you as a fiction writer?

Now I am talking about fiction for adults or young adults. And I am not talking about short story writing, and I’m not talking about screenplay writing or script writing, which has a little bit different language around genre that I have not fully understood yet. I’m dabbling, but I don’t fully understand it.

So I adhere to the idea of a genre is basically a collection of reader expectations. So that when we speak about, we all generally understand what that means, the readers understand what that means.

So let’s get specific. If you’re writing fantasy, usually you have some magic in there versus science fiction. We usually identify science fiction. Part of the identifiers is that it has a science basis in there.

So those are the two main distinctions. I would just say down the line to quickly start to sort, these are not the entire way of sorting genre. But overall, I want you to understand that genres change over time. It’s a trend you

And I define trend as something that changes over time. But that everybody kind of lives within for awhile. It’s part of our culture for a while.

Now, one of the reasons why I see people struggling with genre. Is that they have created something unique, and have a voice, unlike anything they can pinpoint in the marketplace.

I get it. You’re really close to your work. It’s hard to see how it also has certain commonalities, with other work.

But because of my experience. As a writing teacher, having helped hundreds and hundreds of writers also being an avid reader and also someone who teaches fiction writing specifically story structure, as well as all the other parts, including genre and genre expectations, I start to see where your book fits in the marketplace.

So let’s talk about genre expectations. Let’s break it down.

When we speak of our genre, readers come to our work, knowing generally what’s going to happen at the beginning, generally what’s going to happen in the middle, and generally what’s going to happen at the end. And I don’t mean that this is a formula.

This is about actually story structure.

So let’s take romance because it is one of the most popular genres out, and many of you will probably be familiar.

Even if you don’t read romance, you probably already familiar with these three parts of the story and what generally is expected. And by expected, I mean, expected by the readers.

So in romance at the beginning, take a moment and think about what do you guess happens at the beginning of every single romance.

There’s always a moment where the two lovers meet, the two people who will become lovers meet. And it’s usually, very genre and sub-genre appropriate. Meaning if it you’re writing a romantic comedy, it’s gonna be something very silly. If you’re writing more um, a romantic thriller, and then you’re going to have some kind of thriller set up at the beginning.

That’s going to color how these two people meet or. I have friends who write science fiction romance. Then the setting of that first encounter is going to be including the science fiction elements.

The reader is expecting that the two people meet at the beginning and it’s going to be. Either funny if it’s comedic or we’ll have our science fiction or mystery or thriller elements also at the beginning, whatever it might be.

What do you think is in the middle? in the middle of this kind of story?

The two lovers will be struggling to come together, maybe they will come together. And then something is going to pull them apart.

And then by the end of a romance, one of the defining elements of romance these days. And of course you can break the rules if you want. But the defining element is happily ever after, shorthanded as H E A, happily ever after, or sometimes a happily for now. So that’s just one genre.

Let’s look at some specific elements of fantasy.

Fantasy at heart usually we tend to think of it as an adventure story , which means the story structure of a fantasy. Lot of them follow the hero’s journey. We’re going to have some kind of call to action for the hero. We’re going to have some kind of refusal of the call, usually. Perhaps there’s a mentor moment. And then something is going to compel your main character to go off on this journey.

They’re going to have a journey with ups and downs and allies and enemies and challenges until they reach the dark moment, the dark cave, facing the dragon, where they have to face their worst fear, usually manifested as a big monster on the outside of them that they have to face. It could be a person. It can be a creature. We’re going to have fantastical elements of all kinds, depending on the kind of story that you’ve created.

And then by the end of this type of adventure story The hero, your main character may come back home. With their wisdom and knowledge and bounty. Or they may decide to go off into continue the adventures. That’s a broad sweep. And they may not actually ever circle back home or have the chance to come back home.

Instead, they may move on to a new adventure, a new level of, of discovery. Sometimes people end the story with that potential. And then you can write another book with those characters. That’s a very broad sweep of adventure.

Notice, I didn’t say anything about orcs or elves or middle earth.

Now what about science fiction? It’s interesting. When we come to look at science fiction, there are so many different options there.

One of the things that I have thought about a lot is that in science fiction, the genre is really about exploration of what it means to be human and putting humans in circumstances or beings in circumstances that test the very limits of what it means to be human.

What we call science fiction today Has the backdrop of some kind of science usually set in the future, or set in an alternative present, or in a near future where science plays a role in who your character is as well as the challenges they encounter.

Now these are some broad sweeps about genre expectations. There are a lot more elements about genre that we could go into and I do want to take this moment now to talk about tropes.

Lot of people talk about tropes in fiction. Tropes are these elements that are specific to your genre, that we are going to expect to be there. So you could say that the tropes make up the genre itself, and string those together, and you have the elements of an interesting story when I say string them together. I mean, if you have a few different tropes, like, um, let me take mystery, for example, since that’s what I write– science fiction mystery. I am writing police procedurals with a science fiction world I’ve set it in the future a hundred years.

My heroine has an eye implant and a lot of solving of these mysteries revolves around using science to solve the mysteries. So you could say my high concept is CSI in space.

Because I’m writing mysteries I have to have a crime. And I’ve also intentionally decided to do murder mysteries. But I also deal with some other crimes as well. . For example, the first book in this series starts with a theft, which then it turns into a murder.

My protagonist is an investigator. So she’s going through, um, solving the mystery. To catch the killer. So, what are some of the tropes and mysteries? Red herring is a huge one. Meaning there’s a bunch of clues that don’t lead anywhere, but the investigator has to follow them.

Another the trope in mystery is something makes the crime personal.

Another trope is locked room. The first four books take place on a space station. In fact, all my mysteries. We’ll take place mostly on space stations. They all will have elements of the locked room mystery.

Well, I should say some will.

Other elements might be a, a boss who acts as an opposing force to the investigator. That’s something that I use.

What makes our stories interesting is the people in, not just the actions they do.

To recap, learn how to be a student of genre and tropes and all the elements that make up the different kinds of stories so that you can identify what you’re working on.


Write long and prosper.

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Podcast Production by Beth Barany
Show Notes and Transcript Support by Kerry-Ann McDade


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