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 What Genre?

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Novel-Goddess
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PostSubject: What Genre?   Sun Oct 18, 2009 9:31 am

I skimmed through the rest of the threads, and I didn't see one like this. If I missed it, feel free to correct me. Smile

I figured we could use a thread to discuss genres in general, and to debate the genre of books currently on the market or the genres of our own works. For example, I'm not quite sure what genre to peg my own stories some of the time, and I figured we could have a place for anybody else in the same predicament to get advice or help.

So, yes. Genre, generic conventions, and everything else pertaining to that lovely little "G" word. Take it away, y'all. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:12 am

I think alot of writing actually consists of a mix of genres and although it is helpful for the buyer (readers) and seller of books - i don't think its good for a writer to have to pin themselves with a certain label.

But the above sentiment is very much fantasy, you have to know who your readers are and who your market is, while remaining true to yourself. which is a hard balance to maintain.

I know that even the literary vs. genre thing is pretty confusing, with many genre pieces which are very well written being categorised as literary? so where is the line?

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PostSubject: Literary vs Genre   Sun Nov 01, 2009 12:04 pm

Hundreds of folks weighed in on this literary vs. genre debate on Nathan Bransford's blog this week, but nothing much was resolved. My own personal theory is the difference between pop (genre) fiction and literary fiction is often simply TIME. Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, Vonnegut, etc, all wrote for the masses (and a paycheck.) When they were still being read 100 years later, they became "literary." And it doesn't have to take 100 years. Stephen King is now published in the New Yorker, and Elmore Leonard is spoken of with reverence. Maybe someday the marvelous lines from Star Trek 4 will really be said: "20th Century American Literature? Yes. Jackie Collins, Danielle Steel: the greats."

But when an agency says they want "literary fiction" that is shorthand for "make sure you have an MFA"--it's about a particular self-conscious style in vogue in academia at the moment. If you've got those moves, go for it. Otherwise, stick to genre. You'll have a better chance of breaking in.
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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:06 am

annerallen wrote:


But when an agency says they want "literary fiction" that is shorthand for "make sure you have an MFA"--

Do you think this is true? I read alot of literary fiction, and hope someday to be able to write some but i wonder do i have the 'creds' to even achieve that. I'd hate to think that this field is so narrowly minded but i guess it reminds me of slipstream.

which is basically terminology for literary fantasy and science fiction - like Margaret Atwoods 'the handmaid'.

I saw the post on Nathan's blog too, i think theres 'classic' which is the test of time and then 'literary' - but i don't think literary is defined very well.

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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:31 am

That was too broad a statement--saying you need an MFA to get a literary novel published. It's only true inside the narrow world of New York publishing--and there it's because most agents can't sell adult literary fiction--because it doesn't make much money--so they discourage submissions from non-insiders. But Young Adult literary fiction is a wide open genre. So are sci-fi literary and literary mystery. (If the Handmaid's Tale had been written by somebody without Atwood's cred, I'm sure it would have been published as genre sci-fi.)
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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:09 pm

Agreed- i think the entire literary genre -as a genre seems very vague or ill-defined.

Works like Life of Pi etc. could be categorised differently if 'literary' didn't exist.

Personally though, although i enjoy reading literary fiction, i'd as soon pick up genre fic as well.

Good writing is good writing, no matter what label is attached to it Smile

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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sun Nov 22, 2009 8:11 pm

I've just blogged about the whole genre vs. literary issue. Definitions are mighty slithery.
http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2009/11/literary-or-genre.html#comments
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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:28 am

Thanks ann, i'll definitely go check it out! Labels eh - such a complex issue

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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:03 pm

I hate genre distinctions - bane of my life! mainly because I write somewhere in the area generally described as 'women's fiction' or maybe 'commercial women's fiction' but would love to escape the strait jacket those labels impose.

This was me blogging about the literary /commercial divide last year. Possibly just slightly with my tongue in my cheek...

http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/2008/05/08/thursday-soapbox-rosy-thornton-books-should-be-books/
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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:08 pm

Oh definitely going to check it out Rosy


Thanks!!

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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:09 pm

Eep, making distinctions is a nightmare...thanks for the link, I'll definitely check it out! Smile

Sometimes I hate the fact that we have to make distinctions, but in the end I guess it really is a good thing. I mean, it does help sell books and helps readers figure out what they want to buy. But still, it's a nightmare. Neutral

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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:13 pm

I hate labelling but like Novel as said - its all about marketing

Have any of you heard of 'new adult' - i really hope this takes off!

Its meant to be like YA except for young 20s-30 year olds! Seriously think there is an untapped market there!!

i.e. ME!!!

Lol

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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:19 pm

I like the idea. A lot of people seem kind of resistent, but I think that in the end it really will wind up taking off. Like you said, there is a huge untapped market.

I think it'll take a while to take of, though, maybe even several years, if not longer. A lot of people seem to think that it's stupid or just an excuse for the publishing industry to bring in more cash. And, with the boom in YA lately, a lot of other genres are kind of down. I don't know how well a new category would do right now. I dunno. Thoughts?

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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:28 pm

St Martin's Press is holding a competition now i believe for New Adult fiction - which i think will help lauch it quicker!

YA is more open than many other markets, and i know of a lot of authors that change their MCs from 20smething to 17 so they can fit themselves into the category.

Ireally like YA but i would love to be able to read the same fiction of characters that are 20 something - who are in university/unemployed/employed/at home/ independent etc.

Maybe publishers are trying make more money, i;ve no problem with that - it is a business. Its about time they realised that there is a market of 20-25 year olds who work, don't have a mortgage and have some disposable money for books.

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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:42 pm

Great post from Rosy T! Thanks for the link. I just followed you litfoxes on Twitter.

Good comments from everybody here. We all hate labels. But they do help the bookstore clerk find the right spot to put our books on the shelves.

For more on genre categories for the not-dead-yet writer, I've just posted a list of current genres on my blog at http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2009/11/lets-play-whats-my-genre.html#comments.
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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:47 am

I saw this link about the 'new adult' category. Must admit, I'd never heard of it until recently!

http://upstartcrowliterary.com/blog/?p=788#more-788

(And great run-down all the genre categories, Anne - informative and funny, too!)
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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:20 am

Rosy T--thanks for the Upstart Crow link. I left "New Adult" out of my genre list, because it doesn't seem to have been accepted as a legit category as yet. But maybe I should. It sounds as if it may be the new name for chick lit in any case.
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PostSubject: Re: What Genre?   Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:07 pm

I always wondered what genre my stories really fit. I always write 18 year olds for some weird reason (I think I'm stuck in that age category) but I like writing the "coming of age" type stories but not quite YA you know? I like the "New Adult" genre or at least something better for a name for it anyway. I can't think of one right now but at least I kind of know where my stories lie at the moment in the genre category now.
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