1. Eutheria
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    Eutheria Member

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    defining genre

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Eutheria, Mar 15, 2010.

    How do you determine the genre of a story? Of course some stories are easily labeled but so many others seem to stand like giants with each foot on a different continent. It may be tempting to say genre doesn't matter but so many times people want or need that label. The way the review section is organized is a ready example. What do you call a victorian murder mystery that has alternative clockwork technology that makes them advanced? What about a western set in space? Or, what about a young adult romance in a dystopian cyberpunk setting with fantasy elements? The last has been a project of mine for some time. Is it the plot, the storyline, the setting, or something else that determines it? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Publishers define genre, and the criteria can vary somewhat from one to another. You only need to classify a genre for your writing if you are submitting to a publisher who only publishes within limited genres. In those cases, if your book doesn't fit neatly into one of those genres, you probably won't be considered.
     
  3. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    It not uncommon, in fact, quite the opposite, for fiction to fall into more than one genre. Don't stress too much about the label. If you have written what you percieve as a western but it is populated by robots or aliens from outer space, you have a sci-fi western. Sometimes it's not so easy to narrow down and genres can cross many lines sci-fi/thriller/romance/comedy, western/spy/thriller, etc. You don't want to get bogged down in labeling your ms. Just stick to the primary lines running through it. Is it a thriller but also has elements of romance? Please, ditch the romance! It's a thriller and an element of romance is not uncommon and, unless the romance is pivotal it's just incidental to the real story. It's a thriller with elements of sci-fi? THAT might be an integral factor, but don't go beyond that.

    Lastly, regardless of how you label it to pitch it, an agent or publisher may have different ideas of the key aspects so ... don't sweat it. If it looks like a duck, call it a duck. If someone else points out it's a platypus ... so be it.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    pick whichever one seems to fit best... it's only the work that has to sell itself to an agent, not what genre you say it is... just be sure those you query rep that genre...
     

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