Genre question: Family Fiction?

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Genre question: Family Fiction?

Post by EthylGlycerol » June 11th, 2011, 11:53 am

Hello - a newbie poster but longtime lurker here... ;)

After a long hiatus (some might say writer's block) I had an exciting new idea for a novel the other day, only to be puzzled by the question of genre.

There's an entire genre on TV - call it family drama/comedy, if you will - for which I can think of no literary counterpart. Think of a cosy, family-friendly drama with a generous dose of comedy, a smattering of romance, and different generations with their own storylines. Basically, if Gilmore Girls were a novel, what genre would it be?

I can't help thinking that the author of Gilmore Girls: The Novel would have to choose whether to write the book as YA or as women's fiction, and choose the point of view accordingly. And yet, Gilmore Girls the TV series is hardly uncommercial, so... hmm.

What do you think?

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Re: Genre question: Family Fiction?

Post by polymath » June 11th, 2011, 12:51 pm

U.S. family or family-like television situation comedies have been around a long time. Beginning in 1951 with I Love Lucy, 1952 saw a spate of family television shows. The Honeymooners, My Little Margie, I married Joan, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to name the standouts. Leave it to Beaver came along in 1957. Each in their own way artfully depicted the perils to family and community life of self-serving, self-gratifying, self-absorbed self-centeredness.

It's no coincidence that later ensemble cast or family cast television situation comedies follow the same model. The Honeymooners spawned The Flintstones, in turn spawing The Jetsons, and so on along a line of prime time shows tracking through All in the Family, The Simpsons, and of late Family Guy and American Dad, and a host of spinoffs and derivatives and imaginative reinventions between. I've left out hundreds, I'm sure.

Each has a thematic unifier. Some variant on traditional family and community values indoctrination, working class WASP buffonish yet endearing dad, ditzy yet proficient homemaker wife, demanding yet endearing kids, to some degree of reality or elaboration.

M*A*S*H and Sienfield attempted to set the family and community values model on it's ear but didn't deviate far from the self-serving, self-gratifying, self-absorbed self-centeredness with additions of Postmodern skepticism and cynicism for comic effect affect.

Frankly, I'm seeing a lot more retreading coming out of broadcast and cable television of late. Budgets are taking a hit from revenue competition and financial woes. Raising Hope, Harry's Law, Glee, except instead of a domineering patriarch there's a dominant matriarch taking over the first position buffoon role. Equal rights in action, I suppose.

Something that would elevate the form would imaginatively reinvent the selfish comic effect model. Here's a hint: If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to care for others. Another: If you don't think for yourself, you won't be able to wisely do other's thinking for them, if you so presume.
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Re: Genre question: Family Fiction?

Post by dios4vida » June 11th, 2011, 6:37 pm

Honestly, I'm thinking that 'commercial fiction' might be the best. It doesn't sound like you have any fantasy/sci fi/major romance elements - it's based in the real world with normal rules and generic, albeit interesting characters. Since it would appeal to just about everyone, a "generic" genre might be the best.

Since this seems to be in idea/outline/beginning mode, I'd say that the best thing for you to do right now would be to start writing it and see where it goes. When you're closer to submission time, then you can take another look at the ms and decide what the appropriate genre would be.

Good luck!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: Genre question: Family Fiction?

Post by Mira » June 11th, 2011, 7:26 pm

I agree - commercial fiction, or maybe women's fiction.

I'd absolutely love to read a book like the Gilmore girls, or anything in that vein. But I say, write the book and then worry about the genre. After all, maybe you're creating a new genre! :)

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