But no matter where or when you start, as a beginner novelist you have some decisions to make. You need to pick a genre. If you were inspired to write by a book you loved (or hated), then that might be an easy question. I knew I wanted to write YA sci-fi and fantasy, so I started reading all the YA SF/F I could get my hands on. But that doesn't mean I actually understood what the "YA genre" was all about. That took lots and lots more reading, and not just the sci-fi stuff; I read YA contemporary and romance, too, and have since fallen in love with many writers I wouldn't have discovered otherwise. Reading is the only way to know the conventions and cliches of your genre. You'll understand not only what your audience expects, but what will surprise and delight them! As you get to know your genre, you'll also start to internalize writing craft. What makes for an authentic character? How many details are necessary to build a fantasy world? What chapter openers/endings keep the pace flying--and which types fail to keep your attention?