donderdag 12 juli 2012

About genres and why they're a tad useless

Not too long ago someone asked me "What's your novel about?" and I replied with my usual summary line. "So it's fantasy?" No, not quite. Science Fantasy is a term that's closer to what my novel is about, but I suppose every writer has that feeling a bit. Your novel is more than just those words of the genres. Others should read the book before they could ever possibly understand what it's actually about. Stories are so much more than just what their genre implies. Personally I find this the best approach to novel writing. Write your novel first, then let others fight over what genre it is, because I find writing my novel rewarding enough. If you want to know it, my novel is Science Fantasy, with a bit of alternate history, some snuffs of romance, a good dose of folklore, drama and warfare involved and a tinge of psychological horror. It also has politics, moral, who of you already skipped to the next paragraph?

Genres date from the first written forms in ancient times where Plato and Aristotle classified the written text into three forms (poetry, drama and prose). These three forms became more complex over time and developed into our current system of having a myriad of styles, forms, etcetera as the need arose.
A lot of aspiring authors want to know what genre they write in. Google 'novel genre' and you'll soon find the many websites that 'help' determine which genre you have. Personally, however, I believe it's not the task of the author to determine the genre of your novel; the reader does. The writer who believed his novel to be in the historical fiction department may suddenly find his book in all the romance bookshelves.

So genres aren't solid, not over time nor through your audience. Then what does a writer do at all concerning genres? Nothing. That's right, nothing at all until you're getting published. Then you just ask your proofreaders for help in categorizing your novel so you send your novel to the right publishers. Beyond that the writer's concern is writing.

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