Genre confusion

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Chantelle.S.
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Genre confusion

Post by Chantelle.S. » July 16th, 2011, 4:24 pm

Hi, just a random question I've been pondering the past few days.
If you have the concept of time travel in a romance novel, without including any major historical events being altered or mentioned, and without the use of a physical time machine, does that make it sci-fi or fantasy? The novel is in similar lines to The Time Travellers Wife, aimed at the YA reader audience. I've been calling it a paranormal romance, but I have no idea what genre I'm actually writing in anymore. What elements make a novel sci-fi and what elements make a novel paranormal?
If anyone could help me out I'd really appreciate it.
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by polymath » July 16th, 2011, 4:41 pm

Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife in my opinion says as much as needs to be said about the genre in the title. However, it doesn't strike me as especially science fiction in the usual senses of fantastical science or technology, in a literary genre sense, there is a fantastical social premise. But I interpret the time travelling aspect stands for something else, something subconscious. The direct take I make of it is how the couple's romance parallels forced separations love interests experience.

The novel is more of a romance than a science fiction in the usual senses. Crossover romance is what I'd label the novel as, but with a literary genre undercurrent. A query's pitch and summary and the project's working title should relay the literary and science fiction qualities. For a young adult in the same vein, perhaps young adult crossover romance, though, again, the body of a query should indicate the novel is young adult genre.
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by Doug Pardee » July 16th, 2011, 5:32 pm

BISAC classification FIC027090 is for "FICTION/Romance/Time Travel". That sounds like the genre to me (time-travel romance).

Fiction Factor describes time-travel romance as "Romance tales set across two different time periods, with one or more characters 'time-traveling' between both."

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Re: Genre confusion

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 16th, 2011, 7:35 pm

OK let me throw in my :?: concerning my WIP. My current WIP has qualities of several genres. MY Audience is YA

Subject Matter- two powerful beings from another dimension fight for the Love of a 17 year old girl. One pretends to be monster from a this dimensions horror genre but in truth is not. While the other pretends to be normal but in truth is very supernatural. :?:

What genre would you consider my WIP :!:
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by polymath » July 16th, 2011, 9:55 pm

Supernatural and paranormal have overlaps. They're used synonymously but they're far apart in the metaphysical genres. Paranormal relates to temporal cultural beliefs, supernatural to spiritual cultural beliefs. Werewolves, leprechauns, and yetti fall in the paranormal camp. Angels and succubi in the supernatural camp. Dead ancestor worship in the supernatural camp. Horror can go either way.

One character posing as a horror monster seems ripe for either temporal or spiritual motifs. A spiritual belief system character ripe mostly for supernatural motifs. I don't see any reason why a vampire can't have a spiritual belief system though. A crossover between horror, supernatural, and paranormal I don't think has been done to great popular or critical acclaim yet. Speaking of ripe for a fresh and vigorous creation.

I'd put it in the fantasy camp though, unless there's chrome and riveted sheet metal involved, and fantastical science and/or technology. I suppose the horror monster could get his mojo through science or technology. Maybe he's the one who opens the interdimensional link.

Though it's not a hard and fast principle, and could be a self-imposed rule, writers defining genre is fraught with frustration and best left to marketplace forces. An agent or publisher or marketplace niche might want to redefine whatever a writer chooses anyway. Take noir, it used to have one crystal-clear definition. Anything with a hint of any one of noir's conventions is noir now. Noir's strongest attribute is hardboiled cynicism reacting to bleak settings.

For self-definition and perhaps query purposes, I suggest taking one of the mainstays of defining top level convention-based genres, mystery, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, western, adventure, romance, and an age category when essential, young adult, early adult, middle grade, primary grade, and perhaps another defining term, crossover, category, or out of category, and working from there.

Though never, never ever say literary fiction in a query. Labeling a novel literary fiction will raise eyebrows the wrong way because every writer wants to think his or her work is literary. And it's been so done to death as a label used in queries screeners blink and cringe and might reject on that alone. Besides, literary fiction speaks for itself, which is one of the defining conventions of literary fiction.

So let's see, horror and supernatural romance fiction for young adults, I'd be tickled to label it young adult horror romance. O the horror of young adult romance.
Last edited by polymath on July 17th, 2011, 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 16th, 2011, 10:25 pm

I'd be tickled to label it young adult horror romance. O the horror of young adult romance.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Oh Yes!

Thanks again for the heads up on how to query this when the time comes.
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by dios4vida » July 17th, 2011, 5:07 pm

Chantelle.S. wrote:Hi, just a random question I've been pondering the past few days.
If you have the concept of time travel in a romance novel, without including any major historical events being altered or mentioned, and without the use of a physical time machine, does that make it sci-fi or fantasy? The novel is in similar lines to The Time Travellers Wife, aimed at the YA reader audience. I've been calling it a paranormal romance, but I have no idea what genre I'm actually writing in anymore. What elements make a novel sci-fi and what elements make a novel paranormal?
If anyone could help me out I'd really appreciate it.
Since the time travel element seems very small, more of a setting thing than a major theme of the novel, I'd label it romance first. For it to be fantasy or sci-fi it would incorporate a lot more of the tropes of those genres. From your description it sounds like two normal people who happen to travel through time once or twice while falling in love. I'm not even sure you'd have to mention the time travel elements if it doesn't play a big part of the plotline. But if you wanted to, I'd call it a romance with time travel elements.

If they were hopping from time to time, exploring places and histories, then it would be a sci-fi romance. Aliens or mythological creatures would be fantasy romance. That's where I'd draw the genre line, personally.
Brenda :)

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Re: Genre confusion

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 18th, 2011, 10:57 am

Chantelle.S.
First I would like to apologize. In my excitement to be able to talk with other writers I began posting my questions all over the boards. Then upon looking over this thread again I realized that in many ways I hijacked it here and I am so sorry.
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by polymath » July 18th, 2011, 12:55 pm

I feel you were on topic, washingtonwriter1968. Genre confusion was your query, the topic of the thread.
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by dios4vida » July 18th, 2011, 12:57 pm

polymath wrote:I feel you were on topic, washingtonwriter1968. Genre confusion was your query, the topic of the thread.
Seconded.
Brenda :)

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Re: Genre confusion

Post by Fenris » July 18th, 2011, 7:13 pm

I have to agree with dios4vida in that having minor elements of a genre doesn't necessarily make the work into that genre. For example, my WIP is fantasy but incorporates many elements of science into it (particularly quantum mechanics and theoretical physics). But since this is overshadowed by the fantasy aspect, I don't think it needs to be called sci-fi as well.

I guess what I'm trying to say is a work only needs to fall into two genres if both genres are equally present in the work. If you want to call your work--what was it, young adult horror romance?--that's fine, I think the decision is yours to make. But it's only necessary if YA romance and horror are evenly balanced, or at least close to such.
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 19th, 2011, 12:18 am

yes I agree! If I leave out the word Horror out it wouldn't make sense. and if I left out word Romance I would leave out something huge in the plot line. and if i don't say Young Adult an older adult would say the whole thing is set in a 17 year old girls life. So I guess I will call it YA Adult Horror Romance
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by Watcher55 » July 19th, 2011, 12:43 am

Perhaps someone else has actually read the OUTLANDER series, but from what I understand, your premise is similar. What genre is that series?

I know thats not really an answer, but it may be a place to start.

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Re: Genre confusion

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 19th, 2011, 3:12 am

according to the wikipedia this novel
Watcher55 wrote:Perhaps someone else has actually read the OUTLANDER series, but from what I understand, your premise is similar. What genre is that series?I know thats not really an answer, but it may be a place to start.
is a Historical Time Travel Romance
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Re: Genre confusion

Post by Chantelle.S. » July 20th, 2011, 12:59 am

@washingtonwriter - it's no problem at all. In fact the answer to your post helped answer some other concerns I had as well, so no need to apologise.
I watched Sourcecode last night with Jack Gyllenhaal, and realised that my interpretation of my novel and The Time Traveller's Wife is a bit off. The novel starts off with my MC being followed in her car, and her freaking out when she realises who is stalking her, and it all ends in a big nightmarish crash on the highway. She gets pretty close to dying and blacks out while she's trapped in the car, but when she comes around she finds herself at her parents' house in a different county, x amount of years younger. Eventually later on she figures out that her current Mr.Perfect-Obsessive-Boyfriend has the ability to turn back time.

I'm guessing that this is slightly different to actual time travel, but I don't know if there is another more suitable term for it. It's like Back to the Future where you don't have a double walking around and your actions can change the outcome of your future.

I'm planning on it only happening once or twice throughout the novel. The elements that I emphasise on most will be the romance factor, and the theme that will ride high with that is, I'm guessing from polymath's post on genres, supernatural e.g. the boyfriend has a pitch fork tail and little red horns that he hides very well. I've shaped his character after Loki, which is a mythical being.

But now, I'm confused about what to label it as: romance supernatural, or supernatural romance? Does it matter which comes first if those two elements are balanced out in the novel?
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