Tuesday, 12 July 2011

I Need A Genre!

I have mentioned in the past my confusion about and dislike of the concept of ‘genre’.  When Ellen’s Tale was deemed ready to be sent to agents this word was the bugbear of my life.  Being told by some ‘experts’ that I was writing science fiction displeased me.  I was writing a novel.  Did I?  My memories of sci fi were so different from what I had written; I discounted the experts.  My tale was a love story: was it a romance?  Never, they said.  Was it historical?  Ah, come off it, they scorned. 

For various reasons and nothing to do with the above I decided to self publish and naively thought that particular problem was behind me.  After all in cyberspace there are no bookshelves, are there?  Wrong, wrong, oh how wrong.  Every site I wished to place news of Ellen’s Tale needed, with a passion, to know what genre I wrote in so that it could occupy its appropriate pigeon hole.  I hate pigeon holes.  I am not a pigeon, neither is Ellen, I would mutter with a scowl. I won’t even wear my name tag at conferences!

It has become an increasing problem and now I really do have to solve it.  Planning my virtual book tour this autumn, I find I’m unsure which blogs to approach while I don’t know what genre I am writing in. 

I have been researching over the past couple of months (again).  Discovering new fields of lunacy – er sub divisions!  In my ferreting around different information I have also made some interesting discoveries, found new authors to read, dipped my toes in genres I thought never to read.  It’s been fun.  Mind you, I’m no nearer discovering the true Alberta.

The following posts will be shorter than usual as I tackle each genre I might be writing in.  Maybe other confused writers will discover themselves along the way, just don’t hold your breath!


  1. Sounds interesting, I'm going to look forward to these posts. There are some novels that use a science fiction trope that may or may not be considered SF. The Time Traveller's Wife, springs to mind. I mean time travelling is SF, right?

    But the novel isn't considered SF becuase other elements dominate. Amazon have got it in Romance. So, don't worry. This is not a problem.

  2. Interesting post. Our novel was a Finalist in an Independent Awards program this year in Chick Lit. I wouldn't have classified our novel that way. It's a story about women for women, does that automatically make it Chick Lit?

    Genre-specifications and obsessions can get so annoying, for lack of a better word.

    Glad I found your blog.

  3. Can't it be a mix? I struggled with that too on my last one - it was technically Middle Grade because of the main character's age and the overall themes, but it was as long as a YA and featured one tiny bit of time travel, so fantasy crept in and... Yea. So hard!

  4. It should be a rattling good read - or not!! it should be a story /tale /escape/ reality/ whatever - I agree - what it is is pigeon holes in a long tidy row of them on a wall - drives me to demented (its my age!)distraction

    glad I'm not the only one having this problem although it's sad as well - I'm going to examine each genre I'm supposed to have written or I think I may have written in the next few weeks

    maybe at the end I'll know where I am!!!!!!

  5. Have you thought about looking to some of those bands who's musical style is also unclassifiable? iTunes love to pigeon hole these bands using completely inappropriate genes. What do these guys do to get around the problem? Is there a way around the problem?

    Just a thought as to where you could possibly look for some inspiration...