…THE MOST SUCCESSFUL authors, regardless of how they are perceived on their craft, all seem to have specified writing, sticking to a genre at least until they were so well known they felt comfortable releasing books in alternate genres.
Firstly, the chances of me becoming as successful as the well known names of writing are remote. That’s realistic. But it doesn’t mean they cannot be learned from.
Dan Alattore’s post got me thinking about genre and how important it is when people choose their reading material. I’ve never been a one-genre guy, tending to philander, interested in a good story full stop. But with publishing on the horizon at last, the befuddling world of marketing looms large.
Certainly plenty of books are not neatly categorised, and neither does that propel them on a downward spiral into oblivion. Off the top of my head The Life of Pi is classified as a fantasy adventure novel by some, commiting the supposedly heinous crime of genre blending. There’s no shelf designated for it in any book shops I’ve been in.
Literary agents, publishers and marketeers will always have sales in their sights. But then, that is their job. Writing great stories isn’t. So how does that effect you or me? To genre or not to genre, that is the question.
Although having a novel that falls into a clearly defined genre such as crime or horror is beneficial, that doesn’t guarantee sales or uptake in reading: there are millions of books under those categories. The story has to be good if not excellent to get noticed. But you knew that.
On one hand I am advocating writing genre specific, and on the other I am saying it doesn’t matter. Ideas, quotes and writing advice circulate on do this or do that. Initially, you have to do you. I’m not going to suddenly start a sci fi epic set in the deepest space on planet Alderon. Sci fi isn’t my preffered genre, and there are plenty of people more passionate about it than I could ever be.
Ultimately don’t be afraid to write between genres. But it is something to keep in mind when writing your next big project. I realised that my second book in the making doesn’t fit a genre. Small town drama? Anyone seen that above a bookshelf in Waterstones? Barnes and Noble (for you statesiders)? So still at the heavy editing stage I am considering how I can bend the story even just a little bit to – I hate to say this – really – to be.. more marketable.
The essence of the story will remain but adhering to a genre even loosely might help me refine it anyway.
Seriously though. To genre or not to genre. I don’t fu**ing know.