Thursday, April 25, 2019

Genre Confusion … Anybody?



Is it just me, or can deciding what genre your story falls into be maddening, even super complicated? When I had to submit queries to agents for my first book, I had to say which genre it fell into. But I was between genres. It wasn’t completely a romance, and it wasn’t an out-and-out fantasy novel. So I used to submit it under romance, just to play it safe. As I knew the fantasy genre was hard to get into. And I didn’t think I was good enough at the time to classify it as fantasy.

I am working on a new project, which will be unnamed, in case I jinx myself. But once again, I have no idea what (if I publish it) genre I would place it in. Same goes for the short story I just finished. I read up all the genres, but it doesn’t quite sound like one or the other. I tend to unconsciously mash-up genres. Its not my fault publishing platforms want to put every piece of writing into a perfect box. So after writing your masterpiece (which is a feat in itself), you have to know what genre your work falls into.

Lately this has happened to me a lot. Whenever someone finds out I’m a writer:

What is your new story about?”
Me; “Uhm

This is the point in which I ramble on about the synopsis.

What kind of writer are you?
Me: Crickets are singing.
I mean, what genre do you write in?
Me: “Uhm.

You see my dilemma. My latest response is, “I write fiction.” Why is it that people want to know? Immediately after that, I quickly try and make the point that I don’t know super famous writers like J.K. Rowling, and Stephen King personally. For some strange reason non-writers think we writers all know each other in some secret way.

What do you guys do to help you determine in what genre you write, or which genre your story belongs to? Is there a magic trick? Or is it just my lack of experience showing, and I should read more?

Just something I have been pondering.

11 comments :

  1. You just have to go with whatever element is strongest. It might be several genres, but which one stands out the most. Run with that.

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    1. You just have to go with whatever element is strongest. It might be several genres, but which one stands out the most. Run with that.

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  2. I'm having a similar issue with my terrible romance novel WIP. I keep calling it a romance because that's what it was supposed to be when I started it, but I have serious doubts that it is actually a romance and no idea what that does make this WIP. Hence the terrible romance nickname. Maybe I should try Alex's technique for determining genre. :)

    If people ask what I write, I answer fiction. And then set a small fire somewhere to distract everyone long enough for me to get away without having to answer any follow-up questions. :)

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    1. See, running away never occurs to me. Alex made a good suggestion. I'm going to write it all down, and go from there. Good-luck M.J. It is so frustrating when one can't figure out something so simple.

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  3. My stories often contain elements of mystery/suspense/humor so I know what you mean.
    I suppose the strongest element will become the dominant genre.
    Hope you're well, Murees.

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    1. I'm good. Thank you, Michelle. I'm happy to see others struggle with this too. Checking which genre is dominant really helps.

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  4. I understand. The book I'm querying right now is a crime drama with a strong paranormal element and a romantic thread. But as soon as people hear "paranormal" they think sparkly vampires or whatever. It can be a challenge.

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    1. Exactly, LD. Paranormal can mean so many things. But that is the same reaction I get. I sympathize. Best of luck with your queries.

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  5. I write between genres, too. When talking to someone, I say a write a blend of mystery and romance and my tag line is Crime Fiction with a Kiss. When I'm writing I class it as mystery. My theory is that both the mystery and romance genres are very broad and encompass a wide range. So even if my romance is more a love story and my mystery is more a suspense, those general labels still work. I use mystery instead of romance to choose one because the mystery is the driver of the main story plot.

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    1. Wow, that is so smart. See, I would never have thought of that. I always fall back into the thinking that it has to be one or the other. I should look what the main focus of my story is. I currently write paranormal, and it contains romance, but it is not the main focus. So I guess it could be both paranormal, or urban fantasy? Thank you, Carol. I think your tag line is brilliant. Now I want to think of my own 😊😉

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  6. I think mash ups can be amazing. Like Pride and Prejudice with zombies. The stories are more unique.

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