Sin#6: Not understanding genre
Genre, a word that evokes fear in most writers…myself included.
The dictionary defines genre as:
One of the categories, based on form, style, or subject matter, into which artistic works of all kinds can be divided. For example, the detective novel is a genre of fiction.
The problem is dear dictionary that most books nowadays are so complicated they defy, or transcend, simple genres. While your book may be detective fiction – let’s stick with the above example, my brains too frazzled to think of another – it may also be a Pratchettesque comedy of dark and witty humour so therefore you may not want it pigeonholed into the shelves of Detective Fiction of Waterstones.
You might want it in the comedy section or fantasy if the detectives aren’t entirely human!
Even if you DO want it to go into Detective Fiction maybe the readers disagree? I’ve picked up plenty of books in my time from the Horror section only to throw them to the side when I realise they aren’t actually Horror…
OK, I don’t actually throw them. I put them back, in alphabetical order, rearrange the surrounding books and pull out my emergency set-square so I can make sure they all line up perfectly.
I have a hard time deciding which genre my work should fit into. Whilst I would like to pick a certain genre, I feel as if I do I will be blocking certain options when I write my work. So do I wait until I’ve finished my novel THEN decide what genre it falls under?? But wouldn’t that mean I missed out on certain techniques I could have used if I knew what genre I was writing?
See what I mean?? This genre stuff is hard work!!
At the moment, but perhaps always, genre seems to be a way of selling a novel without even having to read it.
Publisher: Horror?…No thanks. Sci-Fi?…Nope. Paranormal Romance?? Come right in Mr.Sappy McTwilightcashin.
Ok, maybe I’m being a bit cynical but it’s hard not to be when you write in a genre that most writers have a certain disdain for…that’s right the dreaded genre of horror!
I think I’d better back away slowly before I dig myself into a deeper hole!