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Genre : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Genre

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
cynfranks
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Genre

Postby cynfranks » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:32 am

Reading the new WD articles on writing for children, very informative, I was reminded of something I noticed as a reader through the years; the increase of genre's with narrow focus. Reading the articles, it became clear that some genres are for the writer, but some are for the booksellers.

It used to be, and I could be wrong, that these were the genres a writer needed to be concerned with:
Mainstream
Romance
Mystery
Suspense/Thriller
Science Fiction
Fantasy
Young Adult (geared toward age groups in roughly 2 year increments)
Children

Now it seems each one of these genre's is dived into numerous sub-genres. I'll never forget the first time I saw the shelf at the bookstore labeled Teen Paranormal Romance Diaspora Series. Or the first time I read genre labels Alternate History Suspense and Speculative Fiction. Took a minute to absorb these. And what happened to the popular post-apolalyptic genre? It seems to me a popular book like Twilight or The Hunger Games can create it's own genre for a while. Is there a genre that has popped-up around, "Fifty Shades of Gray?"

Here's my question, are some of these really genre's or categories for sale purposes? Do they come and go and how quickly? Which ones does a writer need to be concerned with and which ones are best left to agents and publishers?
Ask yourself, "What would Dickens do?"



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mammamaia
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Re: Genre

Postby mammamaia » Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:13 am

you can find out what genres agents and publishers consider viable at the moment, by checking out which ones they represent/accept, in their listings or submission guidelines...
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shadowwalker
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Re: Genre

Postby shadowwalker » Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:16 pm

JMO, but I think the main genre "headings" are useful for all - there are certain conventions that people expect in them. Someone wanting to read a romance would not look under Westerns, for example. But when one gets into the "sub-headings", I view those as strictly for the marketing people. Young Adult, for example. Those books could be scifi, romance, what-have-you. But they're written (supposedly) for young adults versus us wizened old geezers, and so the marketing will be geared toward that demographic (even though people of all ages read them :roll: ). I mainly go by negatives - my stories aren't romances, so I wouldn't look at an agent who only deals with romances. I know what my stuff isn't - everything else is up for grabs.
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MookyMcD
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Re: Genre

Postby MookyMcD » Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:58 pm

This relates directly to something I vividly remember thinking when I was only 5 or so years old.

The Dewey Decimal system is great:
700 Arts & Recreation
790 Sports, Games and Entertainment
799 Hunting, Shooting, Fishing
799.1 Fishing
799.12 Angling
799.124 Fly Fishing

Then there was the fiction section:
Adult or child, then author's last name.

I remember standing at the librarian's desk and saying, "I'm supposed to know what book I want to read because of the author's name?"

She taught me the wonders of the card catalog (and I was a pal-bearer at her funeral some 30 years later). But my incredulous question still begs an answer. I think the whole genre, sub-genre thing is little more than deciding how deep in the Dewey Decimal System you want to go. The difference being, there was fly fishing 100 years ago, and will be 100 years from now. Teen, dystopian, paranormal romance? Maybe not. :o

Laycrew
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Re: Genre

Postby Laycrew » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:26 pm

Dewey Decimal system is only for non-fiction. I know you know that, Mooky.

Fiction seems to grow and develop as time goes on.

Fiction there's Adult, YA, MG, and childrens for age groups.
You have all the genres:
Romance, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Contemporary, and whatevers.

Now there is another age group NA- New Adult which has been hotly debated on whether or not it is a thing for some time now and how to define it. Well, it IS a thing and quite hot even though you don't find a section for it in bookstores yet. NA is placed in the YA section for now. It has done well in the indie market and when it goes to trad published, they are getting killer deals. Even though it is now the hot thing, it is still not completely defined. NA is that age right out of high school, going into college where they are in that transitional phaze of growing up. It is mostly romance. Now the debate is on whether NA can work for Sci-fi. Some agents say they want it. Others say you don't know NA if it is Sci-fi. I guess that one will continue to define itself as time goes on.

Then there is 50 Shades that is something like Mommy erotica. I think that's what I heard someone call it. From there I've seen talk of Dino-erotica, and Sasquatch-erotica that is ACTUALLY a thing. I don't want to know the people that read that sort of thing. Blech :shock: :? And the crazy thing-those indie writers are making some really good money with that nonsense.

Em_Lawrence
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Re: Genre

Postby Em_Lawrence » Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:40 pm

What is Sasquatch-erotica and WHO BUYS THAT? Hot damn, that's spectacular.

I was listening to a podcast discussion about blending of the genres the other day. They said cross-genre work can help you market to people that are usually outside of your normal genre. Say you only read historical fiction, and your favorite author writes a historical romance. You will probably try it, which might hook your interest in some more romance novels. Cross-genres bridge the various genres.

Cross-genre work also helps people wade through the vast number of books available to find something that appeals very specifically to them. Want a western, but also feel like a sci-fi? Steampunk. Feel like a romance, but you want it to have a bit of sparkly vampire, and you want it to be PG? YA Paranormal Romance.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: Genre

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:28 pm

You forgot "western", and in a very real sense, and it's a little more complicated that a list make sit seem. "Mainstream" is not a really genre. Mainstream is every one of the other genres. Any novel that catches the eye of the mainstream audience, that sells well enough to this audience, becomes mainstream. Horror, SF, thriller, you name it. If teh mainstream audience buys it, it becomes mainstream, and the tip off is that words and phrases such as "horror" and "science fiction" usually vanish from the cover.

And "contemproary" is also a genre, and very often what many mean when they say "mainstream".

"Children" doesn't just have sub-genres, it contains several actual, full-fledged genres.

But, yes, every genre is broken into all sorts of sub-genres.

A writer needs to know which genre he's writing in, which sub-genre he's writing in, or he'll probably write a book that doesn't fit well anywhere. You need to know whether you're writing a cozy mystery, a private eye mystery, a police procedural, etc.

With romance, you need to know which sub-genre you're novel will fit. It's how you tell the story, who the characters are, the length, etc.

The popularity of a given genre, or a given sub-genre may wax and Wayne, but genres seldom change. Individual novels in any genre can become huge bestsellers, but as a whole, romance usually makes up about half the total sales, and mystery usually makes up somewhere around twenty-six six twenty-seven percent of total sales.

It's best to know exactly what kind of novel you intend to write, and where it will fit, before you write the first page.

If your novel sis good enough, sells well enough, you may actually turn something into a new, separate sub-genre. Writers had been turning out thrillers that we would now call "techno-thrillers" for a long time before Tom Clancy came along, but The Hunt For Red October really invented the techno-thriller as a standalone sub-genre.

Anyway, the popularity of a sub-genre waxes and wanes, and new styles of writing replaces the old, but the genres themselves do not. When you sit down to write, you should decide what it is you're writing, and where it fits, before you start writing it.

cynfranks
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Re: Genre

Postby cynfranks » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:07 pm

Ask yourself, "What would Dickens do?"



TerryRodgers
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Re: Genre

Postby TerryRodgers » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:25 pm


James A. Ritchie
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Re: Genre

Postby James A. Ritchie » Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:42 am


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