Welcome. This blog was started three years ago by four aspiring writers who are now three published authors of novels and short stories (Barbara Elsborg, Dawn Jackson, Arlene Webb) and one multiple award-winning writer (Laurie Green). We blog to keep readers updated on our new releases or other random topics. We hope you enjoy your stay. :] Coffee?

Monday, October 6, 2008

On Genres: A Necessary Evil

Here's an always informative and thought-provoking subject from the Fictionautics:

On Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction and Genres

This article focuses on informing readers what falls into what genre (or the best guess) and why.

As a writer, I struggle with how to pitch my work. The boundaries that define many of the genres and subgenres are blurred at best. If I describe my novel as "near future military science fiction romance with paranormal elements," most agents or editors won't read past the first line. Calling it simply speculative romance, slipstream or paranormal romance doesn't begin to give a sense of the elements of the story. I normally fall back on science fiction romance and then try to cover or at least hint at the other elements in the pitch paragraph.

So why even have genres?

Doing away with genres altogether creates a new set of problems. As a reader, I want to be able to filter or search for books that tend to have science fiction romance elements (even though when I execute that search, I often get novels that I'd categorize as pure fantasy). If there are no genres, will I have to sift through thousands of titles and blurbs to find the type of story that interests me?

So we struggle with genres, subgenres and cross-genres as best we can. The author of the article made a point that I agree with. When writing, don't restrict creativity to labels. Just write it and worry about pidgeon-holing it later.


Flick said...

That's a very good point, Laurie. I think the sci fi element is very hard to pick out. Everything is becoming very blurred. Publishers don't help much. I used to think Kensington's Brava line were romances without the detailed erotica that their Aphrodisia line contains but I've read a lot of books in both lines and often can't see the difference between the two. One Brava Historical romance I just finished is most definitely erotica and should have been in the Aphrodisia line. Another suspense one had so little romance I wondered why Brava had accepted it. It makes it hard to make purchasing choices when the publishers don't make the correct distinction. If you're a reader who doens't like explicit sex, you'd be hard pressed to identify books without it. So much more is 'accepted' nowadays, its almost as though authors have been told to sex up the sex!

Dawn said...

I agree with you there Barbara. I find some publishers want more, and some have actually asked for more plot, less sex in the erotica. Doesn't that make it Romantic Erotica, or is that just romance.
*bangs head on desk* so confusing.
The nice thing with some of the E publishers is that they are asking for "Heat levels" So book sellers can more easily place the book in the appro niche.

Heather said...

I think querying/pitching is like marketing--but harder! Especially if you're trying to sell agents/editors on niche market books.

I'm glad authors don't worry about the labels when writing. I love going to their sites/blogs/online groups and reading descriptions about their work in their own words. Gives one a whole different perspective on the story.