Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Genre, Genre, Genre

There has been a lot of news here in the U.K about horse meat being sold as beef. I'm not going to get all political etc., I know people do eat horse meat. That's not the problem. The problem is that people are being sold something different to what they expected. What was on the label isn't what is inside the package.

Why am I talking about horse meat being sold as beef? I started thinking about writing (I love that pretty much anything can be related to writing *grin*).

The fact is that, when writing, it's important to know what your product/novel is. You know your story. You know your characters. You've spent time on the plot. You might know all these things, but do you know your genre? What will a reader (or agent) expect to get when they pick up the book/query?

We know genre can be tricky. Genre's can be combined. Genre's can be invented. Not sure what genre you are writing in? Spend some time researching. Compare your book with already published novels in that genre and see if your book would sit alongside them on the Sci-Fi/Romance/Fantasy shelf.

There's always the temptation to try to fit your novel into the genre of the moment, but spend the time getting right before putting your completed novel out there. Only then will everyone know what they're getting without compromising your finished novel/product.

What genre are you writing at the moment?


  1. Awesome writing metaphor, as always! I've had my share of problems with genre, mostly getting the age wrong. :) Generally, I'm all about speculative fiction, whether that's a touch of sci-fi or a touch of fantasy. Right now I'm immersing myself in a fantasy universe, which is new for me. I'm also co-writing a book involving time travel for the YA crowd. And I'm speeding through a first draft of an NA novel -- my first time writing New Adult deliberately.

    I agree we want to know what we're eating, both literally and literarily.

  2. I really had a hard time pinning down the genre in my first book (partly because I tried to cram ALL THE THINGS in those early versions) and still can't do it in one word. But, none of the genre labels I do use are misleading, so I guess that's good!

  3. The book I'm currently working out started out as a YA Mystery but once I started on it I realized the mystery part didn't last long, it switched into more of a suspense/thriller. So as of now I'm classifying it as a YA Suspense.

    I also have a MG mystery and a YA Dystopian (is dystopian a genre?) in the works.

  4. My first novel was hard to identify... mostly because I wrote it before I understood there were specific rules and definitions. I rebelled of course, frustrated that I had to make it comply with industry standards if I wanted it to get anywhere... I probably had the same issue Angelica mentioned- I crammed in a little of everything.

    I held true to most of my ideas in revising, and ended up picking a genre through process of elimination. Knowing my genre and sticking to it did make my novel more focused, and I love how it all worked out. :-) Urban Fantasy.

  5. Love the metaphor! Great point. I'm writing young adult historical fantasy.

  6. That's some lead, Lindsay!

    I'm not a strict genre reader -- I like books that cross boundaries -- but many readers do not. If you set something up as a romance, it better end happily. If you begin as scifi, you better not have the science turn into hocuspocus. But I don't care -- for me it's not so much horsemeat and beef as easting something delicious and being surprised by something equally delicious.

    But as in all things, the surprise only works if you trust the chef, and if you are willing to be surprised. (Does Lindsay's metaphor still hold up? I think so! Great post.)


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