Fresh, unique ideas sell books, right?
Even the freshest idea must follow specific ‘rules’ or elements of the genre.
Don’t believe me? Then why in almost every romance novel the main character has one or more dead parents and the poor orphan was often raised by a kindly/odd/distant aunt or uncle? Or better yet, why is it that in an urban fantasy, the female lead is always haunted by something, whether it’s a real ghost or the ghost of boyfriend past, or in some cases herself?
Crime fiction is perhaps the worst offender.
And that’s why I love it.
These elements and rules give crime fiction its grit and style.
Mind you, not every one of the elements I list below will be in every book. But I bet that if you pull a copy of any crime novel off your bookshelf, you’ll find at least one and likely many more inside.
- The hooker/thug with the heart of gold
- Substance use/abuse
- A dirty cop
- A bottle of booze hidden in a desk/cabinet/toilet tank
- A femme fatale
- The term “Doll face” or “Baby doll”, really just some reference to a doll
- A description of a woman’s legs, in vivid detail
- A lounge/bar/nightclub/strip club
- A guy named “Fast” something, usually Eddie
- A dead partner/lover and/or betrayal by a former partner/lover
- Pipe/cigarette smoking hero and/or villain
- A dead body in the first 10 pages
Got any more? What about the genre which you write, what are the 'rules' in it?