Sunday, February 16, 2014

Genre? What Genre?

Genre Free Cover
When I started writing my first novel I thought it was about a husband and his wife their family and their extended family. Then I believed it to be about a couple and their family. Then I thought it was about the couple and their child. But when it came down to it after several revisions, the story was simply about a woman and her child.

In basic literary terms the genre would be Women's Fiction, a story about  woman written by a woman. (Keep in mind some experts in the field think Women's Fiction can be written by men, but that's a whole 'nother post.)

Seems simple enough. But what type of Women's Fiction? Is it Women's Contempory Fiction?  Women's Historical Fiction? Women's Literary Fiction? Women's PMS Fiction, Women's Commercial Fiction? Or just the fun and sassy Chic Lit?

I know. It gets very confusing.

To complicate it even more, the Women's Fiction genre is just one of approximately 150 fiction genres. I won't even go anywhere near the NON-fiction genres.

Some of the most popular fiction genres are:

Adventure Novel
Children's Literature
Comic Novel
Erotic Fiction
Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
Political Fiction
Pulp Fiction (I know, I thought that was just a movie too!)
Religious Fiction

And then within those, are subcatagories of fiction.

Under Horror, for example you have: Gothic Horror, Southern Gothic Horror (What is that? Banjo playing Zombies with dark smoky eyes and pierced tongues?" Followed by Supernatural Horror, Cosmic Horror, Body Horror and something called Splatterpunk Horror.

I don't even want to know.

Oh OK, yes I do. Seems Splatterpunk Horror (according to Wikipedia) is —a term coined in 1986 by David J. Schow at the Twelth World Fantasy Convention and refers to horror fiction distinguished by its graphic, gory, depiction of violence. "Hyperintensive horror with no limits"

Yikes. I don't think those authors will have to worry about any competition from me in that arena. After reading Stephen Kings, Pet Sematary almost 30 years ago, I am still unable to sleep all night without at least one nightmare. To make it even more difficult, prospective agents expect authors to have a good idea what genre their book will fit into and whether or not it meets any cross- genre criteria. Say for example, could you call it a Psychological Romance or is it best defined as a good old Legal Thriller?

So where does a new author or inexperienced writer go to learn more about genre? Wikipedia for starters and then a google search for each genre listed. You can also do some old fashioned research. Get your can out of your chair, dust off your library card or GET ONE and go trouble a very well educated librarian.

Tell her you'd like to check out five books in the Ergodic Literature section. You'll have a blast and she/he will feel needed. (See what I did there? No link. You'll have to work a bit to look up that term.)

The point is our job as authors to be able to label our work. We spent weeks working on the setting, years refining our voice and months tweeking the dialog. We developed the characters, their arcs, their flaws and their intentions. I mean really, if we don't know its a Paranormal Lesbian Historical Romance Tragi-Comedy who will?.

To read more about Genre please check out K.M. Weilands guest post on the topic at
Suite T  The Author's Blog of Southern Writers Magazine.

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