Writing in a *done* genre

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Writing in a *done* genre

Postby abc » 04 Mar 2011, 07:49

So there's a lot of talk about how certain genres have been done to death and how you shouldn't write in a certain genre just because it has been wildly popular. But what you have a book idea that you love and it is in that genre that your potential agent is so sick of hearing about she won't want to read one more damn query idea for it?

Here's the thing: I love dystopian. Is dystopian really a fad? Hasn't there always been great dystopian novels? I know The Hunger Games made it bigger in YA and b/c Hunger Games was such a hit that there's this big boom of dystopian but I can't imagine getting sick of dystopian. And here's the other thing, I have an idea for a dystopian novel that I really love and I can't shake it and if I don't write it I will feel sad. But I don't want to screw myself, either.

Thoughts?
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby charlotte49ers » 04 Mar 2011, 08:26

Personally, I'm writing a dystopian and I'm not worried about it. It isn't like the other dystopians out there (futuristic society, technology, etc.), but it just fits in that category. I know it's different and if someone reads the word dystopian and doesn't give it a chance, well...that's their loss, right? :D

I'd just write what you love and worry about the rest later. If it's good, it's good, regardless of popularity. :)
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Moni12 » 04 Mar 2011, 09:09

I think agents are more likely to get sick of Paranormal Romance than Dystopia. In fact, I've seen it on many of their websites that they won't accept queries in that genre. Even if you think the genre is "overdone" you should write in it if that's what you want. Also, yours just might be the one to blow the agent away and get them wanting more in that genre...who knows?
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Margo » 04 Mar 2011, 10:32

I don't think you should let the 'done' label dissaude you from writing a book you realllly want to. Just be aware that it will be harder to break in and the book will have to be better than it might have needed to be before the genre got so crowded. One agent might say they don't want to see more books in that genre, while another might still be open because she'd like a couple more novelists of that genre in her list.

I know one agent who is honest about having predicted the end of vampire fiction four or five years ago -- and being wrong about it. He is still predicting the end of vampire fiction. But what he's actually saying is that the gold rush days are over and it's back to the hard work.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Aimée » 04 Mar 2011, 10:43

I agree, paranormal romance (i.e. vampires) is soooooo overdone. I will never in my life write one word about vampires.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Moni12 » 04 Mar 2011, 11:05

I'd like to add that my sister was told in a creative writing class that if you have to use a cliche make it your own. Like Terry Pratchett you turns to to got in a completely opposite direction (like a vampire photographer who gets burned or dies every time he takes a picture). The same can be done here. If you have to do paranormal romance, for example, and have to add a creepy love triangle why not say the girl doesn't like either of the guys and she has to defend herself against their creepiness. In the meantime the guys get into a fight to the death over her and she's free to be with someone who cares about her and with whom she has no risk being with. I would read that.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Cookie » 04 Mar 2011, 11:36

Moni12 wrote:I'd like to add that my sister was told in a creative writing class that if you have to use a cliche make it your own. Like Terry Pratchett you turns to to got in a completely opposite direction (like a vampire photographer who gets burned or dies every time he takes a picture). The same can be done here. If you have to do paranormal romance, for example, and have to add a creepy love triangle why not say the girl doesn't like either of the guys and she has to defend herself against their creepiness. In the meantime the guys get into a fight to the death over her and she's free to be with someone who cares about her and with whom she has no risk being with. I would read that.


I would totally read that book. In fact, that sounds like a satire waiting to happen.

I wouldn't worry about over-doneness in genres, as long as yours is unique enough to stand out.
I have an idea for a vampire novel, but it is NOT a paranormal romance. Its horror, and I decided I didn't want the mc to have a love interest.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Margo » 04 Mar 2011, 11:50

I should be clear that I'm not down on paranormal romance, vampire or otherwise. It (along with urban fantasy) is just the first genre that popped into my mind as having gotten extremely crowded in recent years. There's an art to it just as there's an art to any genre.

I really wish I wanted to write pnr. It has a great following with loyal fans. The RWA is an extremely supportive organization with a ton of helpful writers encouraging one another. Writer Jennifer Stevenson tried to recruit me into paranormal romance at a workshop in 2008, in fact, and came darn close. Incredibly helpful lady.

Nope, I'm afraid I like a good steamy vampire as much as the next girl. I'd just like to see something else as well.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Sommer Leigh » 04 Mar 2011, 11:52

Someone gave me this advice quite a while ago and I can't remember now who it was or I'd credit them, but they said: Don't worry about what everyone else is doing. Write your story. Write the story you want to tell and write it as best you can. Let everyone else worry about themselves. Don't write to the market.

I'm paraphrasing a bit, but there you go. I'm not a terrible worrier, so it was advice I could really use. I let go of tracking trends and guessing because I don't know enough to know what I'm even supposed to be worrying about. While *I* am a little sick of paranormal YA romance for the moment, it is clearly still selling because new books are coming out and they are all over my husband's high school. Especially all those vampires.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Cookie » 04 Mar 2011, 12:22

Oh, I so totally read paranormal romance (though mostly because I'm just catching up on all the books that everyone has already read. Kinda behind on the book times). I just don't think that genre is for me writing wise.
And yes, I like steamy vampires too.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Moni12 » 04 Mar 2011, 12:27

When I read Twilight it was to see what all the hype was about and I couldn't even go to the library because I didn't want to be categorized as a "crazy fan". I'm still not into it. I actually blog about this and point out some symbolism that Meyers probably didn't intend. Anyways, I tend to steer clear of super popular things because I don't want to be in any categories. Although, sometimes I can't help myself. I do plan on reading Harry Potter someday, but that's when the hype dwindles a little more. Maybe a year or two after the last movie comes out. I have to say that I do admire these authors. I would be too afraid of writing a series because I'd worry that the books that follow could never live up to the first one or two.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Cookie » 04 Mar 2011, 12:32

Moni,

I procrastinated with Harry Potter. My brother and best friend both read the series as they came out and would constantly suggest them to me, and I would always be like 'whatever'. I finally read it in Dec. I read Twilight too for the hype. I borrowed the first one from my ex-roommate and was almost ashamed to go into BN to buy the rest of the series cause I didn't want to seem like a crazy fan girl either.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby polymath » 04 Mar 2011, 12:44

What's the subtext of an agent or agents saying they don't want this or that? What does it mean? It means they're seeing a lot of poorly executed copycat motifs and copycat storylines wrapped around copycat motifs. It means that publishers are hearing from booksellers and readers the marketplace is saturated with mediocre copycats of whatever it is. Copycat writers try to break in, cash in riding on the coattails of a going concern. Motifs that writers made it big with and unimaginative copycats think will sell in a climate of demand. Simply put, when supply exceeds demand.

What's in demand? Well-crafted narratives. Quality narratives trump all else. Does it matter if agents are saying they've seen too many of whatever motifs? Vampires were done when Meyer's Twilight saga hit bookshelves. Dragons were done when The Dragon Riders of Pern hit the marketplace. Fantasy was done when the Potter saga emerged. Time travel was done when Audrey Niffenegger's time traveler's romance came out. Westerns were done and dead when McCarthy's Border trilogy hit, and dystopias were done when his The Road came out. Each brilliantly and imaginatively reinvented their respective forms and motifs and wrapped them up in quality, sellable narratives.
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby Moni12 » 04 Mar 2011, 12:49

Cookie,

Like you I'd love to read a satirical Paranormal Romance. Although, I just realized I watched Vampires Suck. Hilarious! Anyways, I hope someone writes one some day. I'd read it. It's books like Twilight where there's a gazillion others like it that I wonder what makes it so popular. What makes it stand out from other books and, more importantly, what makes it stand out from other books in that genre? I read somewhere once that a woman accused Meyers of plagiarism, but that doesn't even matter anymore because everyone is writing about sexy vampires and werewolves following for human girls. What makes that particular book stand out from all the others?
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Re: Writing in a *done* genre

Postby polymath » 04 Mar 2011, 13:06

Moni12 wrote:It's books like Twilight where there's a gazillion others like it that I wonder what makes it so popular. What makes it stand out from other books and, more importantly, what makes it stand out from other books in that genre? I read somewhere once that a woman accused Meyers of plagiarism, but that doesn't even matter anymore because everyone is writing about sexy vampires and werewolves following for human girls. What makes that particular book stand out from all the others?

In my considered opinion Twilight is engaging reading entertainment for its target niche. It has a subtext that appeals to readers who've been the ugly duckling and want to be the swan. High school elitist cliques glorified. Budding romance between the innocent beauty and the noble but bad boy beast. That's reader rapport. Also, the first person voice takes full advantage of its default close narrative distance. That's two of the big It's of engaging narratives. An artful participation mystique from tight reader rapport and close narrative distance in an exotic proxy reality more entertaining than the everyday alpha reality of existence.
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