The 5 Toughest Genres To Plot

The 5 Toughest Genres To Plot

In this post, we explore the toughest genres in fiction to plot.

Plotting Your Novel – The 5 Toughest Genres

‘I like books that have razor-sharp plotting that snaps and moves along. It’s not about the main character being different at the end. I still want him to be committed to his ideas – to be steadfast, loyal, and true.’ – Brad Thor

Razor-sharp Plots

Some readers are drawn to novels that pulsate with incidents, with characters almost constantly involved in overcoming obstacles and taking action.

These readers want ‘big’ plots that sweep them off their feet. Creating these plots, however, can be tough for the author – they demand an immense amount of research and intricately woven plot points.

The following is a short list of five genres that may challenge you as a writer in terms of developing a plot.

Keep in mind, while category fiction or genres have similar plotting techniques, the complexity of a plot can vary within those genres. It depends on the writer’s style and the type of story they are writing.

The Five Toughest Genres To Plot

  1. Mysteries & Thrillers

Bestselling novels like The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and American Assassin by Vince Flynn are known for their intricate plots. The plots often take centre stage over character development.

These novels often need multi-layered plots to keep readers turning the pages and playing along with ‘the guessing game’. To keep the suspense high and deliver unexpected twists throughout often means a higher number of plot points.

  1. Science Fiction & Fantasy

Fan favourites like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and The Martian by Andy Weir captivate readers with their well-constructed and plausible plots – whether they delve into the realms of speculative fiction or the impossible worlds of fantasy.

These novels skillfully hook readers, immersing them in captivating narratives that push the boundaries of reality.

These genres often involve intricate world-building and intricate storylines. In order to firmly establish and explain unique settings, complex systems, and magical or technological elements, you will need a captivating plot without any ‘holes’.

Read Oliver Fox’s The 4 Pillars of Fantasy.

  1. Historical Fiction

Popular and award-winning novels like All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and The Dutch House by Ann Patchett enthrall readers with their compelling plots.  These novelists seamlessly blend fictional characters into the backdrop of real events and the lives of real people.

It takes enormous skill to ‘synchronise’ all elements, allowing readers to delve into the historical background while immersing themselves in the lives of fascinating characters.

This genre demands thorough research and attention to detail to accurately depict a specific era. The inclusion of historical events, cultural influences, and real-life figures often leads to more challenging plots that need to intertwine fictional narratives with factual elements.

  1. Epic Fantasy 

Blockbuster fiction like A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, Circe by Madeline Miller, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo are known for their intricate and immersive plots.

The novels are characterised by their grandeur and expansive storytelling, essential to meet the expectations of a dedicated readership demanding that ‘epic’ experience.

These stories often span multiple volumes and involve numerous characters, subplots, and interwoven storylines. For the writers to create vast, immersive worlds and explore multiple perspectives they need to work hard to create highly complex plots.

  1. Psychological Thrillers 

In novels like Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, The Woman in Cabin 10  by Ruth Ware, Believe Me by JP Delaney, Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak, I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid, and We Were Liars by e. lockhart, well-crafted and intricate plots are essential.

The success of these stories rest on their ability to deliver unexpected twists and shocking revelations, a ‘hallmark’ of the genre. They must delve deeply into the minds and behaviours of the characters, providing readers with a detailed and engrossing exploration of their psychology and motivations.

The writer must explore complex – often dark – emotions, motivations and mental defects. More than that, they need to gradually reveal and unravel the characters’ psychological states in a compelling way.

Read 7 Types of Narcissists To Use In Your Next Story

These five genres pose a challenge to writers, but they are not insurmountable. They should not intimidate you, especially if you are just starting out.

By giving meticulous attention to plotting and conducting thorough research, you can master these genres with confidence and finesse.

The Final Word 

As a writer, you’re always in control of your story, guiding its every twist and turn. You have the power – be ruthless in your decisions and plot with strategic intent.

Look out for next week’s post to read Plotting Your Novel- The 5 Easiest Genres

anthony ehlers

By Anthony Ehlers. Anthony Ehlers facilitates courses for Writers Write. He writes awesome blog posts and workbooks too.

More Posts From Anthony:

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  5. 8 Ways To Uncover Your Character’s Motivations
  6. Which Way North? 5 Methods To Outline A Novel
  7. Writer In Search Of A Novel – Finding Your Genre As A New Novelist
  8. Writing For Tweens & Teens? 8 Insights For Middle Grade & Young Adult Authors
  9. Ready To Save The Cat?
  10. 5 Simple Steps To Writing A Short Story

Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.

Posted on: 21st November 2023

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