Deciding what genre you write should not be this difficult!!!!

Finding the Correct Genre For Your ProseOkay, admit it, we’ve all been there. You get an idea; invest time, tears, aggravation, and determination to write it all down. Then you struggle with letting it go long enough for a friend or relative to read it. You gird yourself emotionally (or at least you try to) while you listen to their feedback, then cry when in private. Despite however many edits it takes to tell your tale, one of the first questions asked by your reader is, “What genre do you write?”

You would think it would be easy to say, (fill in the blank), but not these days. Genres no longer carry the simple tags of Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Drama, and Sci-Fi. There are sub-genres to these popular book categories that muddy the waters when it comes to deciding exactly where your manuscript fits in. Not to mention, new categories seem to pop up every day. Ever heard of Science Fiction/Alternative History? Me neither, but it is out there!

So, how do you find out if your manuscript fits into one, or more, of these sub-genres?

Well let’s start with defining what a fiction genre is. Visit this link, Exploring Different Types of Genre, which is found on the For Dummies website.

To summarize, here are the two main types of literal and commercial fiction:

Commercial fiction: Attracts a broad audience and may also fall into any sub-genre such as mystery, romance, legal thriller, western, science fiction, and more. (Example: The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. Popular authors in this genre include John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steele, and Jackie Collins.)

Literary fiction: Appeals to a smaller, more intellectual audience. Works in this genre can fall into the above listed genres. The difference is the qualities it contains: excellent writing, originality of thought and style. These qualities raise it above the level of ordinary written works. (Examples: Cold Mountain by Frazier. Popular authors in this genre include Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsover, John LeCarre, and Saul Bellow. )

The article goes on to describe the main genres, as well as list the sub-genres and its most popular authors. Visiting this link provides valuable information to help you discover where you fit in, as well as where to best promote your work when it’s published.  The site also provides links to the Writers of America website for each genre for more detailed descriptions and the accepted rules.

For those of you on a time crunch who don’t have time to read the full article, but want to find our more information about your genre, here are the links:

Mystery Writers of America        Romance Writers of America

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America      Western Writers of America

So, where does my writing fit in? While I writer Romance, because I ‘break the rules’, the stories I tell fall into several categories.

The settings are modern day which puts me in Contemporary Romance.

Though I write from the female and male point of view, the stores are mostly about women’s issues and the ability to overcome, which places me in Women’s Fiction.

My characters are not all from one race. The heroines in the first three novels of The Butterfly Memoirs are an African-American, Caucasian-African-American, and Caucasian. The heroes are Caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic. This puts me in the Interracial Romance category. Unfortunately, this is a relatively new category that is just now being acknowledged by the publishing industry. (Here’s a great blog post written by a fellow author on this topic: Interracial Romance: The Most Popular Genre No One’s Heard About.)

And last but not least, because I am an African-American author, anything I write, regardless of the topics, writing style, or genre, I am automatically placed in the African-American genre before anything else is considered.

So, where does YOUR story fit? Good luck with figuring it out!

MJ

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4 thoughts on “Deciding what genre you write should not be this difficult!!!!

  1. Another timely post! I, just yesterday, figured out that mine would be Fantasy but, since my original goal was to be modern day, I’m thinking contemporary fantasy….maybe…if it’s even a category. LOL! Oh well, I’ve now released the reigns of control on this whole writing thing. I’ve surrendered to the fact that I’m very new in this genre (fiction) and this craft. It’s a lot easier on the ego when you show up as a student :).

    Thanks, MJ!

    • Sabrina, you must be sending me psychic waves or something. 🙂 Letting go is a big step to becoming a better writer. No matter how far you get in your career, you’ll always be a student because things change. I’m pretty sure Contemporary Fantasy is a category. Try Googling it, or looking on Amazon to find out what the Fantasy categories divide into. You can do that by selecting Fantasy then reviewing the books in that genre. Go down to the bottom of the sales pages and see what genres they have been shelved in. You’ll be amazed! Good luck!

  2. Over the past ten years, I have written in every genre, and have struggled on which platform to focus on. At this time I’m writing romance, because I think there needs to be more love in the world and more happily ever afters.

    • It’s good your taking the time to try everything. Eventually you will find your true writing voice. The short story you had posted on your blog, The Falling Man (forgive me if I named it wrong, it’s been a while since I read it!) was a very engaging read. Keep up the good work!

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