Mar 18, 2016

Guest Post with David

A Few Thoughts on the Genres of Fiction

When I started writing Fiction, I can’t say I really thought a great deal about genre. I’m sure many writers do, but my own process is to pretty much start writing any story as general fiction and then the genre seems to develop from there. Genres are important, because—let’s face it—readers have preferences on what they want to be exposed to with a book. A reader may choose Young Adult because they want to avoid reading over-explicit sex scenes, violence, or slurs. I totally get that.  Fantasy or Science Fiction is great because it can offer an escape for a reader. Maybe they want to enter a new world where dragons, elves, aliens, and space ships are possibilities. Books of those genres can offer the simple pleasure of abandoning the limits of the real world. And isn’t that why many read Fiction anyway?

I do feel that there are potential pitfalls awaiting writers if genre is on their minds during the writing process. Genre can be a limiting factor. Will you adjust your character’s age to make it fit in the Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult levels of Fiction just for the sake of genre? Will you feel obligated to have a detective character in your Crime novel? Will you do anything outside of telling the story you want to tell for the sake of the genre? Maybe you will. Is that a bad thing? The reader is the one that gets to decide and if it’s something they feel was forced, they’ll undoubtedly call you out on it in a review. But maybe you pulled off your genre-specific-editorial-change—well played you sly dog, well played.

In the Age of Amazon books have been categorized into digital shelves and even rated into sales rankings. Right now my novel Taking on Water looks like this on Amazon.com:

   #973,264 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
·         #945 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Crime > Vigilante Justice
·         #5392 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Crime
·         #10138 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Crime > Murder

And if you wait long enough those numbers above will change—hopefully for the better! Notice how the genres are grouped into more and more specific subgenres. The upside is that the reader can get the specifics they desire in their next book purchase. Hooray! The downside is, maybe they won’t get exposed to that fringe book that’s just outside their category search, but perhaps right up their alley? That’s what reviews are for. I think today’s reader is smart enough to do the research and garner enough reviews to make an informed purchase. The tools are certainly in place to do so.
As I’m typing away trying to finish my next book I’ve realized that, yet again, I don’t have a genre in mind. It’s a Fictional story set place in Alaska. I could put it into a couple genres if I tried, but I’m wary of doing so while I’m still producing new material. I don’t want to be limited yet. However, I’m aware that once I get closer to publishing the book, the editors and publishers will help me in the genre matter. They will be searching for specific genres to fill their catalogs and at that point I’ll talk it over with them.

As an author, I’m still wary of genres, but it’s far down on my list of things to be scared of (Note: mountain lions are way higher on that particular list. Seriously, they’ll stalk you for miles before they strike!) But I digress… I’m a reader as well as a writer so I understand the importance of genre when it comes to choosing a book. Genres help connect authors to readers and hopefully the reviews will answer the questions the readers may have. Lastly, I just wanted to remind you, keep your eyes peeled for those mountain lions…Only joking—sort of.