The first page, part 4 - Indicate the genre

This is continuing my series on things to look for in your first page.
Click here for part three.

Indicate the genre

When an editor opens your book, he/she should be able to tell what your genre is right off the bat. Genre does not have to be established in the first line, but it should be fairly obvious by the end of the first page.

You don’t want to open your story with:

The wagon train left a dust cloud that Shep could see from seven miles away.

when your story is a contemporary thriller.

Use key words to indicate to the editor/reader what genre your novel is. Certain words or phrases are indicative of different genres by tapping associations in a reader’s mind.

“Glock” will usually indicate a suspense or thriller or crime drama.

“Wagon train” will usually indicate a Western or a historical prairie romance.

“Desire” in context will typically clue the reader in to the fact that the story is a romance of some sort.

Another benefit of indicating genre in the first page is that it will reassure the editor that you did your homework and researched what the editor acquires before submitting. Nothing says “unprofessional” like a writer submitting a romance novel to an editor who only acquires mysteries.

Click here for part five.


  1. Hi Camy,
    thanks for another good post. I am mentally checking off where I stand with my WIP against these suggestions.

    By the way, Camy did a great critique for me a couple weeks back. Very quick response, very detailed comments and suggestions and she basically hit all the things that my little voice was hinting at beforehand.

    Camy, thanks for clearly pointing out my story's weaknesses with sound advice. I've charged through, took what I previously felt was good stuff, and hit it with a jackhammer. I can see the improvements though demolition was not enjoyable. The smoke is clearing!

  2. Camy helped me out tremendously with her critic for my WIP and my short story (which was accepted by my publisher after working in her advice)

    The wagon train would probably be pretty wierd in a contemporary thriller! As a fantasy writer I alwasy try to include some magical descriptive words in my first few paragraphs. My favorites are "Kingdom," "shimmer or glimmer or shining", "beacon," and "netherworld."

  3. Thanks, guys! I'm glad my critiques were helpful.

  4. Hmmm. I may have a problem here. My cont. romance starts out emotional with some mystery, then next chapter the heroine is running through the woods, trying to escape a bullet. LOL I may have to rethink this.


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