1. Gemini_Genie
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    Gemini_Genie Member

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    I can't figure out exactly what genre I'm writing in.

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Gemini_Genie, Mar 13, 2014.

    Has anyone else ever had this problem? Is it...a common thing?

    I realize this must sound odd and make me look like a total idiot, but it's something I've been struggling with for a while. I don't know exactly where my story falls in the way of genre.

    It's a self-narrative of the life of my main character and details relationships she's been in from the one with her mother all the way up to new one's she starts after her imprisonment by well known supernatural personalities. Besides that it has elements of dystopia and steampunk.

    It's not that I don't know my story it's just that looking at it I can't figure out where it's supposed to go exactly. If it were published what genre would I be publishing it under?
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I can write sometimes straddling two genres. And it's natural to worry about audience - but I'd write it first and let the publisher's sort it out. Think of William Gibson - Instead of conforming to a genre he practically invented one.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yeah, @peachalulu is right. Let the publisher sort it out (I'm assuming that by "story" you really mean "novel"; am I wrong?). For marketing reasons, books may be categorized into a genre that seems counter-intuitive. I wouldn't worry about it too much at this point.

    But if you really want my opinion, based on what you've said, it might be fantasy because of the supernatural element you mention, although that would depend on how much of a role that plays. It's either that or science fiction because steampunk is a sub-genre of sci-fi.
     
  4. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    You could just call it a genre bender and keep it at that. Or you could actually go into detail and explain the plot to them. To me it sounded like you were writing some form of "fictional biography" which is a term I like to use as a genre, but I realise it's a very wide concept.

    If you have one main character and you detail his or her life instead of a specific chain of events and it's fictional but presented in a way similar to what you'd do if it was real, I'd call it a "fictional", "false" or "fake" biography. Maybe it's even about you in some form (as a Mary Sue, with magical powers, both or neither), in which case it's "semi-autobiographical". You could also say it's "about life" or use terms like "realism" and "the human condition". You could also call it "science fantasy" (science fiction and fantasy together in one story) or some other combination of genres.

    I also recall a quote I love by Alan Moore: “My experience of life is that it is not divided up into genres; it’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky.” You could use this as a defence for why you don't have clear-cut genre labels. You could also argue that your readers might be better judges of what genre it is that you're writing; after all you're just writing it, and that doesn't necessarily imply you know the backstory or reasons for the events or why it's good or realistic or whatnot. People also use terms like "young adult", "children's literature", "romance", "comedy" etc. like they're genres, but rather they're just target audiences or descriptions. Fantasy books can certainly also be young adult literature without the two having to exclude eachother or blend together, because they refer to different things, and almost all novels and movies of any genre have at least some romance and comedy in them. They're just labels and though we need them we don't have to get too caught up in them. Lots of people will disagree with whatever genre you decide to refer to it as anyway.

    Please excuse the rantishness of this post.

    Oh, and, good luck. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
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  5. Gemini_Genie
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    Gemini_Genie Member

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    Thanks for your responses everyone! I really appreciate it.

    You're right Bjonar. I guess it doesn't really matter much as long as the story is a good one. Real life is a whole long assortment of genres not just one. Peachalulu , thirdwind what if a person plans to self-publish? Or do you think it's a better idea to go through a regular publisher the first time when you're just starting out? Is this a question I should post in another category? ^^;
     
  6. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Have you looked at Speculative Fiction?
     
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  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Genre only really matters when you are hunting for a publisher. Genre is how the publishing industry carves up the reading market. Some publishers specialize in certain genres, so you improve your chances if you align your choice of publisher to submit to with the type of story you have written.

    For now, just focus on writing a damned good story. If it's really good, then you can figure out what genre(s) to try to sell it under.
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think, if traditional publishers don't get on board with this concept, they are going to lose out to people who self-publish. At the moment the two problems with self-publishing are a)bad editing, and b)difficulty with promotion. Solve these two problems, and who needs traditional publishers?

    I read over the 'musts' and 'must nots' that publishers expect, never mind agents, and think ...wow. There is no scope here for anything that isn't just like the last successful book they sold. Indeed, when you're hunting for an agent, that's what you're told to focus on, nay research. Find out what they sold last time, then pitch your piece so it sounds the same or VERY SIMILAR. And based on the blurb you write to convince them, that your work is just like the last one they sold to a specific target audience, they MIGHT just take a look at your first sentence or two?

    If I were an agent, I'd be tempted to say DON'T send me a query letter. Send me a page (any page) of your completed novel, the title of the piece, your name, address and contact phone number/email. Don't tell me what the story is about or what genre it is or what your word count is. Just send me one page. It won't take me any longer to read this than it would to read a query letter. If I get to the bottom of the page and want to read more, I'll ask you to send me more. And see how we go from there.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
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  9. Gemini_Genie
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    Gemini_Genie Member

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    That's good advice Jannert thank you. :) When I'm finally done hacking away I think I might just try that.

    @Garbo: Interesting stuff! I didn't know there was an area for stories like that. I think about the types of books I read sometimes and it's always difficult for me to figure out where it is they belong on the charts. It seems like they have everything. Comedy, Drama, Romance, Dystopic futures...etc..etc. Where do you put a book that has a little bit of everything or more than just one theme? Now I have an idea. Thanks!

    @Cogito: Thanks Cogito. I guess it really all boils down to whether or not my story is good. When and if I get a publisher I guess they'll put where they think it ought to go. I really care about this story though. I hope I don't run across anyone who wants to make major changes to it. I've heard things from a friend of mind. :( Not that I'm not willing to accept constructive criticism. I just don't want someone coming in telling me I have to change everything.

    Thanks everyone for responding. I really appreciate all your advice!
     
  10. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    I love questions like this. A story that's a single genre is boring. Besides, no great story is a single genre. Brave new world is a dystopia. It's also philosophy and science fiction. Coraline by Neil Gaiman is classified as 'children's horror' but it's also classified as 'growing up.' Now, I ask you, could the two genres be any more different?
     
  11. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    I don't find it odd at all. Many stories don't fit neatly inside a box. There's nothing wrong with mixing genres. Sometimes that can make for an interesting read.
     
  12. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    My story jumps around through high fantasy, low fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction. Maybe that's even a good thing when it comes to publishing. I can hit more markets. But until you're thinking about publishing, genre isn't really important. And when you get to that point, take the one that affects your story the most (mine would be low fantasy) and label it as that for them.
     

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