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How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 1st, 2010, 6:37 pm
by Regan Leigh
My question is sort of related to a thread I saw here recently. viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1247
(I posed this question on another forum as well, so if I get any solid answers I'll pass them on. ;))

How did you decide what genre your book fell into? I realize that many people may have a book in an obvious genre, but I don't think mine is... Or maybe I just don't get it. Nathan replied in the other thread about a specific issue and said, "Anything more specific than that: just leave the classification to the agent." But when you're trying to get the agent, what do you label it? lol :D

I have an adult novel I previously referred to as literary. It's very character driven. But it also has a big paranormal element. Way back in the day, I thought it was magic realism. Sigh. Oh, and there is a significant romance to the story. See where I'm going? It's not in the romance genre, but it's also not plain literary because of the paranormal aspect.

I don't think. :D

The best breakdown/description for mine that I've read (via an agent that I think may have been Nathan) was what they called "book club fiction". But that isn't a genre.

I don't think. :D

Think Lovely Bones or Time Traveler's Wife, maybe. Kind of. ;)

So, for me, paranormal romance sounds too romance and literary sounds too vague. Chick lit feels all wrong, too. It doesn't have the happiest of endings, either. No sweet romance happily ever after...

Any help would be amazing.

(Sorry I rambled.)

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 3rd, 2010, 12:11 am
by aspiring_x
yikes! i feel exactly the same way about my WIP, except i can be certain that mine is YA, and so at least i have that...
sorry, i can't really help you, but at least you know you aren't alone!

i sort of think that genre is an awful way to classify literature. a few stories fall clearly within one category, but i think most cross between. so maybe if you asked yourself what part of the story is the main part that would give you a starting point. so you said literary, paranormal, romance, magic realism... you already took out the romance- a lot of stories have romance without being romance stories. shoot most stories have some sort of romance, ok good. now the paranormal- could it possibly be horror or sci fi or fantasy of some sort, like a psychological kind of horror, or is paranormal more on the point? literary- i sort of think that the focus of the book needs to be on the internal struggle for something to be literary, not just character driven (but i'm probably totally wrong here). i guess it would help us try to jab a fork into the genre if we knew more of the story. but still, i have difficulty with my own so... i don't know! :)

anyway, good luck!!!

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 4th, 2010, 3:36 pm
by writermorris
Regan, I think you and I are in the exact same boat!... literary, paranormal/fantastical, romantic plot line. I've opted to call mine literary fiction and then use fabulist and romantic-ish (I confess, I cringe) authors in my "People who like AUTHOR's [book], will like my [book]." Let me know if you come across anything better.

I also recently read a post describing literary fiction with sci fi/fantasy/paranormal elements as either "slipstream" or "literary fabulism" but neither has caught on as a genre.

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 4th, 2010, 4:51 pm
by Scott
A good topic and common quandary. From the little I know of your MS, writermorris, I'm inclined to describe it as paranormal romance with literary elements. Or perhaps "sophisticated paranormal romance". That kind of covers for me that it's driven largely by genre convention, but is mostly for serious readers and adults.

I think sometimes you have to be as creative in describing your work as you are in your work. Mine is a sophisticated, subversive romp that blends the sexy with the supernatural, knowing just when to turn up the humor and when to turn down the lights. It's not down any market main street, but if I've done my job well, I may have whet an agent's appetite just enough for them to give it a shot.

The worst, I feel, is resorting to broad strokes unless the idea exactly strikes the heart of the genre. Then again, you could call it paranormal romance and allow your voice and plot teaser to suggest that it's much, much more. There's the rub. :)

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 6th, 2010, 3:57 pm
by heather_hangs_it
writermorris wrote:I've opted to call mine literary fiction and then use fabulist and romantic-ish (I confess, I cringe)...

Ha! I feel the same way. I've been leaning toward fantasy fiction/romance, but I really don't necessarily want the romance tag on there. No offense, of course, to the romance genre. I'm really thinking that an experienced eye and mind on my wip might be able to shed some light on what genre would best suit?


Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 6th, 2010, 5:36 pm
by gonzo2802
My suggestion is you call it paranormal women's fiction, and let the agents worry about whether it should be classified elsewhere. That would be my guess. You'll probably find more agents to query if you go with paranormal romance, but if you really aren't comfortable with that, then I think women's fiction is your best shot.

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 7th, 2010, 1:48 pm
by Scott
Been thinking: if you research the agent and they list what they're looking for, you'd probably do well to pick one.

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 10th, 2010, 2:32 am
by Regan Leigh
I'm slacking on replying! Sorry! I appreciate all the help.

aspiring_x- I also dislike the way they classify things. I mean, I get the reasoning and all, but it's too in the box to me... Good luck to you, too!

writermorris- That does make sense. And thanks for those terms. I hadn't heard those. :)

Scott- I think you make very valid points. I do hope my description will be good enough to spell it out for me. :) And great point about the agent's wants, too!

heather_hangs_it- Agreed. No offense to Romance genre, it's just not right for my book's genre.

gonzo2802- Yes, I see your point. I may look at my list of agents first and see if it helps with the actual genre term.

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 17th, 2010, 10:03 pm
by mkcbunny
Regan Leigh: I kind of like the suggestion of paranormal women's fiction, based on your description.

I'm having the same problem. I've been describing my novel as offbeat literary fiction (as opposed to something heavy like Ian McEwan literary fiction). But having completely revamped my query letter, I now wonder if putting the "literary fiction" label on it is just making a tough sell even tougher? It's got a female protagonist, marital issues, and fantastic hallucinations. But it's not really fantasy or paranormal, since the crazy things are all in my poor deluded character's mind.

I could call if offbeat women's fiction, I suppose, which might make it sound more marketable than literary fiction, but I'm not sure that the book club market will go for it. I'd call it weirder than Jonathan Lethem but less literary. I considered offbeat contemporary fiction, as well. I'm sure I'll end up tailoring the genre to the agent somewhat, but I'm just stumped right now.

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 17th, 2010, 11:04 pm
by bronwyn1
What a great thread!

My YA book actually didn't start out YA, at least in my mind. It was only after a few people said "hey, this looks like YA to me" + I began to research the YA market more that I decided on it being YA.

And my other novels usually fall into Literary because I like to do crazy daring stylistic things. Will those things work? I'm not sure yet xD

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: May 18th, 2010, 11:34 pm
by FK7
Yeah, classification is lame, but it IS required... the book HAS to be placed somewhere in the store, right?

Paranormal YA romance sounds fine to me as a genre! "Sophisticated paranormal romance" doesn't.

Re: How did you decide the genre?

Posted: June 14th, 2010, 3:36 pm
by larryj
I was recently asked the same thing, I wrote a science fiction novel, so I've been's science fiction. Lately I've been asked if it's YA.

My response was, as a grandfather, but people die in my book, there's aliens and some violence, the person's response was, you'd be surprised as to what they're putting in books for these kids.

So, now I'm doing research on YA. Is my book is scary or is the material I deemed only for adults as troublesome as a newborn kitten? I'm from a generation of where toilets weren't allowed to be shown on tv for awhile, so I'm thinking now could my book be considered YA? There's no sex and very little cursing.

I would ask my grandson (17yo) what books he reads, but he really isn't into scifi.