Genre Confusion

Genre WB

I hate talking about genre.

Last weekend I was at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference with my fellow Wordbitches.  When I found myself sitting next to someone I didn’t know, I’d cringe when they’d ask, “So what do you write?”

 
I had no idea.  I’ve written 65,000 words and I had no idea.

 
I wanted to say women’s fiction but I’d been told I had to have a certain word count.  If I hit less, I’d be in romance.
I’m not sure I’ll hit that word count, but I don’t think it’s a romance just because of length.  Romance brings certain preconceived notions with it and I don’t think my manuscript fits.  My main character doesn’t end up completely happy ever after.  She knows she’s in the middle of hard work and it’ll stay hard.  And there’s only one major kiss.  Whoo-hoo.  Can you feel the steam?  It just doesn’t feel like a romance.

 
Hopefully it doesn’t shock you to know I don’t really, truly fit under “literary” fiction.  I went through the rest of the list.  It’s not a thriller.  Not a mystery.  Not YA.  Not paranormal.  I was running out of genre’s.

 
Then I talked to Susanna Kearsley and she read a page of my writing.  She said:
“Forget word count.  You write women’s fiction with an element of romance.”

 
Eureka!  That’s it!

 
Sometimes it can be hard to nail down what you write.  Word count, formulas, and preconceived notions can be confusing and tangling.  It can even make you want to stop writing.    And sometimes it makes you cranky and unsocial at conferences.  Whatever it makes you, keep writing.  And keep talking about it.

 
Because one day, if you’re like me, you’ll ask someone else and end up screaming “Eureka!”

How about you?  Have you had a hard time pin pointing your genre? How have you solved that problem?

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About Marianne Hansen

I am a redhead with three kids, a dead fish, and a law degree.
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7 Responses to Genre Confusion

  1. L. Marie says:

    Great post! I write fantasy with a touch of mystery and romance. The book’s not strictly one animal or another. Hard to categorize, but fun to write. I usually tell people that I’m writing a fantasy book and leave out the other genres.

  2. adventurat says:

    I can’t remember who it was at SiWC this year who said it, but it really resonated with me: “genre isn’t about the writing, it’s about the marketing”. People (including you) who are trying to sell your book have to know where it goes on the shelves, and where it falls on the Dewey Decimal scale. You, the writer, don’t need to worry about genre while you’re writing it. You just write, and figure out where it might fit afterwards.

    What I’m sayin’ is, you’re doing it right. Though I admit, it’s tricky not to be able to slot your book into a marketable category when asked that most common of questions.

  3. adventurat says:

    Also? I adore Susanna Kearsley. Some of the best writing sessions I’ve been to have been hers.

  4. Whenever I hear the word “Eureka,” I think of the Backyardigans’ song. “When you find what you seek-a, It’s Euruka, Eureka.”

    Glad you found what you seek-a!

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    you have here on this post. I will probably be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.

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