Three Types of Author

I’ve got a theory about why authors prefer writing in certain genres. I think there are three major elements to a good story: characters, plot and setting. Obviously there are other, minor components such as description, dialogue etc. but I doubt an author of novels would focus on those. Description/ illustration would be more for an artist and dialogue for a script writer. Author of novels naturally prefer to focus on one of these components more than the others.

  • If they prefer to concentrate on characters, the genres they tend to write are romance and drama, usually contemporary. The characters take centre stage and the reader cares deeply about what happens to them. The setting is recognisable so that unusual aspects do not distract the reader, and the plot consists of the characters’ emotional journey, which has universal themes understood by most people and are not generally out of the ordinary.
  • If authors would rather focus on plot, they tend to write action, adventure, crime and mystery stories. Here, the emphasis is on the reader fitting together the pieces of what happened, when, where and how. The characters in these stories concentrate on solving a crime, or understanding which events conspired to cause a situation. The setting may be familiar or unfamiliar, but does not distract from the plot.
  • If setting is an author’s favourite, they usually write science fiction, fantasy and historical stories, where they enjoy carefully crafting and describing a fantasy or historical world. The characters live deep within this imagined or researched world and the rich detailed setting dominates their interactions. The features of the setting also rule the plot, which is often a journey or quest through the world, showing off its elements to the reader.

I’d love to know what other people think of this idea, please let me know in the comments.


6 thoughts on “Three Types of Author

  1. I enjoy a mix of everything. I like characters to be fleshed out and believable but I prefer it if they are from out of town, inter-galactically out of town is great for me. So while relationships between the characters are a factor, there’s usually a battle between good and evil and a lot of action in my books. I like the villain really bad, my heroes and heroines well meaning but flawed and if people are small and furry or orange with antennae all the better… so while on one level what you say makes sense, on another, I think that there are a lot of people breaking those conventions.



    • Love your phrase ‘from out of town, inter-galactically out of town is great for me.’ haha!

      Yes, I’m sure there are people breaking conventions, there always are.

      Do you think the perfect story would be an equal balance of plot, characters and setting? Is that possible? Is that why some books capture the imagination instantly?

  2. Since I’m an eclectic reader who pays no attention to genre, I tend also to write that way. To me, the concept of “genre” is too confining, restricting my vision and the ability to allow the story to shape what I include in it.

    • Yes, I think lines between genres are blurring, but authors tend to have a preference for character, plot or setting, whatever the type of story it is. Its a general observation.
      Some authors love to carefully build a world full of imaginary landscapes and creatures. That wouldn’t apply to a contemporary romance.
      Some authors love to write a fast paced story, rushing excitedly to a conclusion. That wouldn’t really fit a fantasy story with no time to stop and admire the wonders of an imaginary world.
      Some authors love to concentrate on characters’ emotional journeys- from loneliness to love, from repression to openness. That wouldn’t suit an action/ adventure story of spies racing to save the world.

  3. I tend to write action/adventure tales but I’ve never considered myself as any type of author However your description above appears to fit so there I am. What I have found is the more I write, my characters tell me where they are going and I simply follow their direction.

    This might seem stupid to other writers but for me it works.

    • No, its completely normal for authors- most that I know are directed by their characters who decide what to do and where the story will go, lol!

      I think people do see authors as ‘types.’ I imagine your readers would be amazed if you suddenly wrote a Regency romance, for example 😉 Mine would be amazed if I wrote a gruesome horror story, I hope!

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