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papajoev
February 9th, 2007, 10:10 AM
I'm a writer who has a tendency to mix genres. For example, my Morgaine series of eBooks actually started out as hard SF, went into to dark fantasy (horror?), the occult, robots, aliens, biblical references, mysteries etc., etc. with love stories and a tiny bit or erotica thrown for good measure. It never seemed to fit the usual genre definitions. I'd like to know why we need all these genres and subgenres anyway. What are your thoughts?

jallenw
February 9th, 2007, 03:59 PM
Writers usually hate genres. At least I do. I have a story to be told and it usually can't be described with just 2 words.

My book, Love Eternal is 'Fantasy' but should be called a Speculative Teen Romance Fantasy for women. It also has a small splash of religious themes.

Genres exist for the benefit of readers and booksellers. Libraries and Bookstores would be terribly confusing if we did not have genres. Readers would not be able to easily find the types of books that they might be interested in.

As such, genres will always exist and we writers will always complain.

Peace,
J. Allen Wentworth

papajoev
February 9th, 2007, 04:26 PM
As I a reader of SF and fantasy myself, I appreciate that bookstores put all these books on one shelf. What disturbs me is that eBook publishers and other online publishers are now subdividing genres in endless subgenres, such as "vampire stories with a paranormal twist and cheerful romance." Ah well, I guess we must grin and bear it and send our stories and novels to whomever seems a likely buyer.

Jacquin
February 9th, 2007, 05:16 PM
I think Genres are wonderful things. I tend to pick books by genre and I when I do I rarely get one I dislike. The books I have the most trouble with are those that try and cross genre boundaries. It seems disturbingly fashionable to write stories that can't be classified by traditional genres and I don;t think it is necessarily a good thing. I doubt the popular genres we have in fiction sprung into existence arbritrarily, I am fairly certain that they grew around the likes and purchases of the paying customer.

I also don't think it is a coincidence that the biggest selling names in Spec-Fic are those who are happy to write within their traditional genre boundaries (I'm thinking King, Gemmel, Eddings, Asimov, Banks etc).

J ( a Fantasy and Sci-Fi geek)

Dawnstorm
February 9th, 2007, 06:43 PM
Writers usually hate genres. ... Genres exist for the benefit of readers and booksellers.

Interestingly, I'm upside down, here.

As a writer, I've never had any trouble with genre. Most of my short stories are clearly SF, some are fantasy, and some could be both depending on how you read them (sometimes the distinction between natural and super-natural just isn't important).

As a reader, I'm getting tired of genre. Not necessarily the books published therein, but the way they're arranged in shelves, the unified cover schemes. My eyes are glossing over, and I'm having trouble picking out the books I'd like (although, no doubt, there are plenty). Most of the genre titles I've read recently were ordered from bookshops, and I don't like ordering books.

I get most of my books from foreign language shelves (I'm Austrian and most good SF/F is written in English), which mix all genres (often even fiction and non-fiction). I love the chaos. I've even bought mysteries that way (I ignore the mystery shelves, usually).

In the big bookshops, there are foreign language sections; I used to spend most of my time in there browsing the genre shelves (SF + F are always grouped together, though Horror is usually separate). These days, the mainstream shelves get almost as much attention. If the trend continues...

I really don't know what it is. I'm not getting tired of reading genre stories. The "multiple-volume-syndrome" is partly to blame, but I doubt that's all.

*Shrugs*

Anyway, I suggest the story you want to write. Better a story you like in your drawer than a watered-down version on the shelves. (If you're looking for fame and fortune, reverse. Of course, then you might find out that watered-down versions are hard to sell, anyway. Or not. The market is fickle.)

KatG
February 9th, 2007, 07:11 PM
I'm a writer who has a tendency to mix genres. For example, my Morgaine series of eBooks actually started out as hard SF, went into to dark fantasy (horror?), the occult, robots, aliens, biblical references, mysteries etc., etc. with love stories and a tiny bit or erotica thrown for good measure. It never seemed to fit the usual genre definitions. I'd like to know why we need all these genres and subgenres anyway. What are your thoughts?

The problem is that you don't really know what the definitions are, so you assume you don't fit them. :)

You wrote a fantasy story with a suspense plot, a romantic sub-plot, a dark/horror atmosphere and some sf elements such as robots and aliens. Except for the sf elements, which pop up more rarely in fantasy than other things, many fantasy writers seeming to assume that they're not allowed to use them or something, all this is perfectly standard. About 95% of all fantasy stories, all sub-categories, use suspense plots -- thriller/adventure or mystery. (And the same for sf.)

About 95% of all fantasy stories contain at least one romantic plotline. About two thirds of all horror stories are fantasy horror. A significant portion of fantasy writing is dark fantasy -- in the neighborhood of horror, but more grim and moody than terrifying. At least a third of all category fantasy, possibly more at this point, involves occult fantasy elements, especially if you're doing dark fantasy or fantasy horror.

If you put fantasy elements into a story, it's a fantasy. It doesn't matter if you have robots or spaceships too. If you include a suspenseful story or romance, and all that stuff that is pretty common to most stories, it's not "mixing" or "splicing" genres. It's storytelling. The use of fantasy elements is the key determinate, causing the book to be a fantasy. The idea of "mixing" was invented by authors and critics who don't like genre terms because they mistakenly think they are labels, and don't want works to be considered "just" a fantasy, but something special. (It's not key lime pie, it's French vanilla key lime pie!)

So what you need to do is assess just how "dark" you are. Is that the main focus of the work? If so, it's a dark fantasy. Otherwise, it's a contemporary or futuristic fantasy. Describe it that way to people, and they will have a handle on what you're doing.

BrianC
February 9th, 2007, 08:40 PM
Ha! Someone should give him a copy of Juxtaposition by Piers Anthony and watch his head explode!

Holbrook
February 10th, 2007, 02:47 AM
Ha! Someone should give him a copy of Juxtaposition by Piers Anthony and watch his head explode!

Ha! Hal Duncan's Ink is doing that to me at the moment! Though I have yet to visit the Jack Carter website link

JBI
February 10th, 2007, 11:34 AM
Don't bother paying much attention to genres. That's what publishers are for.

KatG
February 10th, 2007, 11:56 AM
It's important to remember that categories and sub-categories are identifiers, a basic sorting system. They are short-hand terms for describing fictional works. They identify large, general groups of fiction, rather than shape or control them.

Authors get hung up thinking they have to fit their work to a category definition, when instead, all they have to do is identify which really big, general group their work is already in. Authors have this problem because 1) they think their work is special and can't be loosely grouped with anybody else's work; 2) they don't have a clear understanding of the fiction or category markets and of what other authors are doing, and so concentrate on one tiny sector of the market and overly narrow, erroneous definitions of category and sub-category; and

3) they get those narrow, erroneous definitions from tropes they think define categories. If I ever find the person who took tropes out of academia and bandied it around the SFF community, I will hold his or her head under ice water. Tropes, story devices that are commonly found in various types of fiction, have little to do with categories. No category requires certain specific "tropes" to be present in order for a story to be in that general category. Categories are big broad things.