Genre

Genre can be tricky. When people ask – what genre do you write in? I can find my mind go a blank. It is true that the novel/dissertation I am working on at the moment is a crime/horror/romance… SO which does it come under?

When you are looking for an agent they list the genres that they are looking for. But what if they span two or three different genres? I am confused!

I asked my lecturer and he just shrugged and said that genres were being created all the time. In particular he doesn’t like the term ‘young adult’. Which I don’t actually have a problem with. Anyone writing under that heading usually are easy to read with a strong plot, but is that a genre or just a category?

I’ve just looked up genre and guess what – Genre = Category…

I’m so confused!

I write my adult fiction but I also write children’s fiction which tends to lean toward the modern fairytale and fantasy, maybe a little horror thrown in. Again though it doesn’t sit within a genre well, instead it straddles more than one. There are many writers out there who do span more than one category, and many books that can be labeled with one genre or another, but I still ask myself the question why?

Except that when you come to choosing a book, you can walk into a library or bookshop and immediately go for the genre you want. But why limit yourself. I have found some writers of horror and Young Adult in just the Young Adult, or even child’s section. Similarly I have found Dean Koontz’s poetry for children in with the horrors.

All I can assume is that these authors have become so well-known for writing one genre or another that the person putting it on the shelf doesn’t look at what is written anymore just who has written it. That is fine but what if you write in more than one genre?

I find genre a paradox, as writers we need it but at the same time I shy away from being labeled. It is like an actor being only cast as ‘action heroes’ or the ‘baddie’. It is something I don’t want to happen to me, except I was given one piece of advice from an editor friend of mine –

Chose a genre and write in it for about four years, so that people get to recognise you.

 

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5 thoughts on “Genre

  1. Wise words, Kate. I feel the same – and now need to think what to write in my challenge post for today!! ;^)

  2. My first novel was published in two parts – the first part was what I would call general fiction with suspense and the second part was more thriller and science fiction. Amazon would only allow two categories (they had cut that down from seven) and there was no “General Fiction” category.

    What genre would Charles Dickens be put in if he was writing today, I wonder? Is there a “Wait 100 years and then it’ll be a classic” genre?

    Your editor friend has a point though – these days, commercial success comes from successful branding. Are you prepared to be pigeon-holed, like the “baddie” actor? I think if I was selling a lot of books, I could probably come to terms with it! And there are always pseudonyms!

    1. I agree, being pigeon-holed while making money is not an issue.

      And I do find it odd that there is no general fiction category…

      The problem I find with pseudonyms is that they don’t brand well. You get known for one name and then bring out another, without any history and must start from scratch. I does work if that is what you want – like J K Rowling and her crime novel – but otherwise it is a lot of work to set up another name.

  3. Pingback: Genre | inkblog

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