You now know the rules of your genre, the essential elements that cannot be bent. Now, bend the rules where you can. It’s a simple concept, but when you think about the works that have truly challenged the literary world, were they clean-cut manuscripts that followed the genre to perfection? Or did they actually redefine their respective genre?
Many authors that are most remembered for their work have bent the narrative structure of their genre. It has been said that if Tolkien were an unknown, he would have had a very difficult time getting any of his work published in the present, his narrative approach was not the norm, by any means. As it stands, his books are reference for Fantasy readers and writers the world over.
While there may be cardinal rules that shouldn’t be bent in order to appease genre fans, modifying in areas that are suitable may be the fresh take that takes you from the average submission to the stellar.
Whether it’s allowing your setting to be just outside of the accepted norms, or characters with a bit more of a jaded past than readers are used to in your genre, it’s important that you have separators to break you from the main herd of submissions and manuscripts. It could be taking a slight diversion from the Hero’s Journey by having the mentor depart later than usual, or the denial of the journey occur in a very different manner than the traditional arc from Joseph Campbell.
So how will you bend your genre? Give a hint in the comments section below, but just a hint. Heaven forbid you give away what could be the biggest sell your book has. The conversation is always live on Twitter @ThomasAFowler. Use the hash-tag #WritersConquest. As always, kick some ass and be proud of what you do.