Genre Troubles

What is genre? It’s a way to categorize your novel. There’s genre dependent on age: Young Adult, Adult, and Juvenile. There’s genre based on content: Romance, Mystery, and Thriller. Genre is a way to narrow down book selection. We’ve all got genres that we narrow in on when he go to find our next book.

For writers, it is important to know your genre. Sure, it can change depending on how the novel goes. It might start out as a fantasy and end up a little more thriller. It might begin as a romance and turn into a mystery. A good novel will have elements of more than one genre. A good novel may be classified as a mystery, but also have romance, suspense, thrills, and some scares.

It’s not uncommon to be unsure of whether your novel’s genre is more thriller or suspense or horror sometimes, especially if it has a combination of several.

It doesn’t bother me when new writers aren’t sure what genre to choose. I needed help myself. But, it bothers me when new writers don’t know if their novel is Young Adult or Adult.

If you write YA, you should have be actively reading YA, and so you should know how a YA book goes. Likewise if you write Adult. How else are you going to know what’s been published? It bothers me to no end when new writers write to fit into the Young Adult market thinking they’ve got the next big tween hit. They’re writing for the market, to make money, to be the next Stephanie Meyer.

Some of the best advice on writing I’ve gotten is to write for yourself. Don’t tweak your character’s age to make her fit into the Young Adult shelves, thinking that you’ll make it big. Write the stories you want to write, whether they’re 16 or 65.

And these new writers thinking they’ve got the next Harry Potter rush to the self-publishing market when the traditional market, flooded with YA fantasies, and jump the gun to get their book out there.

I apologize for the “rant” of this post. I’m getting tired of reading the same forum posts from new writes that don’t know if they’re writing Adult or Young Adult. If they don’t know, then I take it to mean they’re not reading in the genre they’re trying to write.

I tried to write a YA book thinking it would be easier to break into the traditional market. Yeah, I did. That book got rejected from each agent (except one who requested a partial, but in the end declined, because she couldn’t connect to the main character). And, after letting it sit for a few months, I can’t connect to the main character, either. That novel has since been sitting on my computer, because I’m not happy with it. I know it needs work. I should not have de-aged my main character to make her fit into a market.

I am not a YA writer. I write A. Whenever I revise that novel, it’ll be an adult fiction.

Sigh – rant, over.

Side note – Happy early Halloween!

3 thoughts on “Genre Troubles

  1. I relate so easily to this. It took me a long time to understand the whole reasoning behind genre, and then I read Blake Snyder – Save the Cat – and discovered every single story I write is: Monster in the House (his term – category); and then it took a while to realise that even though I don’t actually give my characters an age to be, they are all young, setting out on their first steps as grown-ups (although I personally believe that kids at 12yo are pretty much grown-up and capable), and I discovered my genre. YA Fantasy, but that fantasy is not the ‘norm’ – there is no northern hermisphere, no dark-ages arthurian types, and sometimes it’s even rural towns in outback Australia. Something that meets the criteria of ‘same, but different.’
    It takes time to become the writer hidden at the base of the spine, to understand what it is that is the passion behind the idea of the story, and not writing to please.
    We are journeymen, always, and travel far and wide to tell the stories that are close to our hearts. Walk strong, journeyman.


  2. That was a good rant 😉 I’m currently attending college with some younger peeps, and there’s usually a defiance there — “I don’t want to categorize my story! It’s unlike any other!”

    Buuuut then where is it going in the bookstore? Amazon Kindle section? WHO is your audience?

    I liked seeing that advice here again: “write the stories you want to write.” It’s like I’m meant to absorb that message today! 😊 Thanks for sharing ✌

    Liked by 1 person

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