This past Saturday I had an enjoyable ‘writerly’ day – coffee with a new author friend discussing publishing, promotion, writing and getting to know each other. Then off to an author reading at Social Grounds cafe organized jointly by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and Dream Write Publishing. Although the audience was smaller than I would have liked, they were engaged and appreciative. What more can an author hope for?
I read a section of The Rython Kingdom, which some of you may know is a fantasy romance novella set in medieval England. Go figure I’m English! Anyway the book (e-book if you prefer) is actually two stories in one. The first is the story of my protagonist, Guillem Ruet a famed troubadour and how he finds himself not only relaying a tale to the King but aids in the fight against a malevolent witch aiming to destroy the King and his kingdom. The other ‘story’ is the one Guillem tells the King and his courtiers in the great hall.
Within the multitude of genres in fiction, traditionally there have been constraints on what is and what is not ‘allowed’ in terms of content or style based on the genre’s ‘main’ heading. However, with sub-genres being created almost daily, an author has a multitude of options to choose from nowadays. Does that make it easier or more difficult to categorize your novel though? Sub-genres can mix and match almost any genre together. Is this the ‘new’ vogue for literature? Make one up to fit your narrative rather than ‘fit’ your novel to a genre?
So let’s look at what you do.When defining your novels, what methods do you use to decide on its ‘genre’?
Do you decide to write specifically to a particular genre prior to starting a new manuscript?
Or – do you write your story and worry about the genre later on?
As most of you know I am a free flow writer so my story comes first and the defining comes much later. An exercise in branding several months ago did enlighten me to the fact that all of my narratives centered around ‘love’ – be it romantic, parental or another kind – so in essence I can use that title within the more traditional genre heading.
With so many alternative genres to choose from the ‘bonus’ of multiple ones enables us to entice more than one ‘type’ of reader. Romance readers would never go to the horror section first but if the description was something like – romantic suspense – then maybe they would pick up your book.
It is a matter of looking at your story and defining the main theme, even if it is an underlining thread throughout the narrative. My novel, Life in Slake Patch is an alternative world order but basically has a young man trying to change the ‘laws’ so he can be with the woman he loves. It can be described as speculative fiction but romantic speculative fiction is better.
My novel, The Twesome Loop also has romantic elements in it but also has a reincarnation element and is set in England and Italy so is it romance alone or do I possibly create a sub-genre: historical suspense romance..? As I am writing, I realized this sub-genre could also fit my fantasy The Rython Kingdom, as it is set in medieval England, has a romance and a master plot by a vengeful witch so should I add fantasy to the long genre title?
Obviously, some novels are easier to categorize than others and if you have found your ‘perfect’ genre and prefer to write in that one alone then enjoy!