Posted in Writing

Thinking in Terms of Genre

I’ve come across a slight bump in my road to getting my book published. No matter where I send it, whether to an agent or to a publisher, it’s required that I say what genre my book is. A perfectly reasonable request, to be sure. Yet one I’m finding extremely difficult to answer. I have never written in terms of genre. I didn’t start my book by thinking, okay this is going to be so and so genre because it’s going to have this, this, and this. That’s just not how I write. I come up with stories that I find interesting, and then I write those. I guess that means my stories can be a bit all over the place, and they definitely don’t stick to any one genre or another.

This makes defining the genre of my book rather difficult. Because I don’t think it swings completely in one direction or another. It has elements of many genres. There’s a love story in it, but does that make it a romance? Not in the traditional sense of what a romance novel is considered to contain, I don’t think. It takes place in the past, but that’s not enough to make it a historical novel. It’s not a humorous novel; it deals with serious things so does that make it a drama? It’s main character is a young adult, so is that enough to make it a YA? I’ve read before that yes, it does.

I’ve classed it so far as a YA romance, dealing with psychological trauma (if you want to get into it even more), and that’s how I’ve been addressing it in my queries, but I’m still not wholly convinced this is the most accurate portrayal. Perhaps drama would be a better description of its genre than romance (is drama even the proper terminology in the book world, or is that more a movie genre?). It’s stressing me out more than I’d like to admit not being able to describe my book in such simple terms of genre.

It also makes things more difficult in that my books won’t be able to be categorized together. I’m not like Stephen King, who’s a horror writer, or Nora Roberts, a romance writer. My first book might be able to be classed as a YA, but my second book definitely can’t be. I’m all over the place, which I don’t think is a bad thing, but for a new writer it may be frowned upon, I don’t know. My only connection is that I write about sad things – the more tragic or messed up the better. Where’s that genre?

Genre. You are the bane of my existence.

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