Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Give me a G

Just in case you missed it yesterday, I'm running a contest/blog party to celebrate my followers. Click here if you want to get in on the fun.

And just to prove that great minds think alike, Nicole over at One Significant Moment at a Time is also running a contest to celebrate her followers. Click here to get in on that.

Now that the contest news is taken care of, what is it about genre and determining it that drives me to distraction? In my head, I know what it is and what the genres are supposed to be. As a reader I am drawn to all kinds of genres in my reading; science fiction, women’s lit, literary fiction, mystery. Genre is pretty easy to tell in a bookstore since they, well, tell you.

Readers want good stories to read, good being subjective and also not easily defined. Publishers and agents want something concrete they can accept and support and sell. As a writer, though, differences in genre are sometimes not easy to recognize or delineate as the lines blur for some of us. And for those of us hoping to publish, it is beyond important for us to be able to define what we’ve written.

And the lines become even more blurry when you, the writer, introduce other elements into your work. Romance/Mystery. Mystery/Romance. Romance/Women’s Fiction. Yes, I know that’s all about the happy ending thing. Women’s Fiction/Literary Fiction.

Guinevere over at This Is Not My Day Job has a great post about how difficult it is for some of us to determine genre. Especially those of us who straddle the line between literary, commercial, and women’s versus romance labeling for genre.

Mystery Writing is Murder has a great discussion here and here about genre blending and happy endings and character. I have to admit that genre is less important to me as a reader and a writer than character.

So here are my questions to you. What genres do you write? Do you blend genres? How does that work for you? Do you read/write dark? Or do you need a happy ending regardless of genre?


  1. Oh you know what I write, m'dear: literary and dark. Not to say that I haven't dabbled in genre fic. The next two novel ideas are steampunk and fantasy, so who knows which I'll publish first?

  2. I posted and linked you today so I'm set with the contest. And look at you, 57 already. Maybe you'll make 100 by March 15.

    I write romance, historical, and dabble in contemporary. I have some literary stuff kicking around but it's no where near ready to come out.

    I need a happy ending generally, but a little hope will do if that's not available.
    (See I told you I would visit.)

  3. I will check out your contest:)and post it. I think I said that yesterday. I can't remember --the days are blurring together already.
    Right now, I am writing Young Adult paranormal/ romance. I would go darker though. I tend to gravitate to darker things. I would not mind dabbling in other genres but YA seems to come natural to me. Maybe one day.

  4. Hi, Simon. Yes, I do know what you write. And how well you write it. :) Literary and dark. I knew there was a reason I liked you so much.

    I love literary and dark, and am probably most comfortable writing it. Though I have dabbled in sci-fi. No steampunk or fantasy for me yet, but I can't wait to see what you come up with for those novels. :)

    Hi, Anne. Yes, you did. :) And I'm glad you came.

    Hi, Christine. Thank you. Like you, I like the darker aspects and don't mind dabbling. And I totally get what you mean about the days blurring together.

  5. Genre is tough, I'm still working on this one myself. I started out thinking I was a great chick lit writer but then came across to very dark ideas that couldn't follow that suit so I changed. I recently have written a dark mystery if you will and I'm loving it. Now if it's for Young Adults or Adults I'm still unsure, but I suppose that's part of the process.

    I don't need the ending to always be happy, I would say my character at the end is always satisified with the outcome.

  6. It's funny how sometimes we think we see ourselves as one thing, only to come to find out that we're really maybe something else. :) But I'm glad you're loving the dark. And you're right. It is part of the process.

  7. I write romantic suspense and suspense/thriller. I love to create lots of turmoil/angst for my characters, but I also like to see them come out on top in the end. I'm all about Happily Ever After.

    Dern *snaps finger* Ever After was another fave romance movie I forgot to put on Anne's list the other day...

    And, I promise I am going to catch up and get your contest linked on my blog today! I have a bunch of awards to do, also. Aye yi yi, so far behind!

  8. GAH! I hate the pigeon-holing that goes on in the bookselling world. I consider my work YA literary, because the emphasis is on characterization, but I DO have a page-turning, edgy plot. And it's woven through with spiritual stuff, but I hesitate to call it "christian fic" because that sadly means formulaic most of the time. However, I know of almost NO ONE who writes "spiritual literary fic for teens". My impression is that being a pioneer means bashing you head against the genre walls for a good many years, like L'Engel with Wrinkle in Time. 'Cause back in the day NO ONE wrote MG/YA Literary SciFi. Took her 10 years to find a publisher.

  9. Thanks for promoting my contest in this post! I'm off to enter yours as soon as I finish this comment :))

    I classify myself as a Literary Fiction writer. I leave it at that, although if someone were to ask I'd include the distinctions that my work is usually dramatic and character-driven. I think once my first MS is finished, I'll add sub-genres to best describe that novel.

    I agree with your last comments: Naming every possible genre your work touches on probably won't win you readers or representation.

    Great post!

  10. I always tend towards darkness. Even if I mean to start out light, it always ends up back in the shadows. Which is surprising, if you knew me as a person--I certainly have my deep pockets of darkness, but I'm generally quite upbeat and cheeful.

    I'd say my strongest point is literary fiction, though I do love sci fi and supernatural elements as well.

  11. Memoir, but I want to change it.

  12. Good question. I write YA, but everything after that is where the lines get blurred. Right now I'm writing YA romance, but technically it's also paranormal... I guess. Who knows anymore? LOL. : )

  13. I remember hearing Diana Gabaldon, of Outlander fame, describe how much difficulty she had trying to "genre-ize" herself. Sci fi because of the time travel? Romance because of the, you know, romance? Historical fiction? It turns out it's a historical romance with a dash of sci fi time travel.

    I guess the point is, a good story can defy a genre classification but that sure makes it tough on those trying to find a publishing niche.

  14. Hi, Tara.

    I have a bunch of awards to do, also. Aye yi yi, so far behind!

    Hee! I have a bunch of awards to do, too. So I totally get you on the whole so far behind thing. It seems like I'm running in place and can't catch up. :)

    Hi, Laurel. Adding layers and threads to a story should be a good thing, not something that makes you want to bash your head against genre walls. Your fic sounds unique,and unique should be valuable. Hopefully you'll have better luck time wise than L'Engel. :)

    Hi, Nicole. Thank you. :)

    I think once my first MS is finished, I'll add sub-genres to best describe that novel.

    I think that's a really good approach to this. I self-identify as a literary writer, whose work is character driven and usually at least a little dark.

    And I agree with you that trying to touch on every genre in your work's zip code won't get you much in the way of readers or representation.

  15. Hi, Summer. I think there's just something about writing dark that draws me to it. Like you, I consider myself a literary writer, but I've also dabbled in sci-fi. But even then it was character-driven writing. So I guess we'll just hang out together in our dark little corner of the writing universe. :)

    Hi, Amy. Whatever you want to write, I want to read. :)

    Hi, Kimberly.

    Who knows anymore? LOL.

    Exactly. :) My vision is so blurred right now I'm not sure exactly what I'm writing.

    Hi, Eva.

    I guess the point is, a good story can defy a genre classification but that sure makes it tough on those trying to find a publishing niche.

    You always say so much better what I'm thinking than I ever do. That's it exactly. :)

  16. I write fantasy for children. Love happy endings. Have a huge amount of difficulty writing 'dark'. Don't know why.

  17. HI, Wendy. I can see why and where you'd love happy endings. And I give you major props for writing for children. :)