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Thread: Help me name my genre

  1. #1
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    Help me name my genre

    Hi fellow writers,
    Can anybody help me define my genre?
    I've read SO many definitions of genre and am still utterly confused where my book fits exactly. I'm afraid if I pitch as Urban Fantasy and it's actually Paranormal Mystery/Suspense, it will be a dealbreaker. And it also may be making me search for the wrong agent.

    My book is set in an unnamed town, in modern society but not specifically a city, and there is only 1 element of Fantasy or Paranormal in it (the character's true nature), which isn't even revealed up until the last couple of pages. I mean, deaths keep happening and the main character knows its her, but doesn't know everything about it.

    My character is not entirely human (she knows it) and in the last few chapters the secondary character starts realizing that is a possibility, and her reality is revealed (and there is an encounter with more beings like her, on the very last chapter).

    I used to think it was Urban Fantasy, simply because there is 1 element that is not of our reality. But now I am not sure if it's UF or Paranormal and if I should call it mystery as well because there is something we don't know that will be revealed little by little and full-blown in the end.

    Can somebody pretty please help me? It's taking me a lot of effort and guts to start resubmitting again and I want my chances to be the best they can be. I really wouldn't like something as the wrong definition of genre to screw up my chances with an agent.

    Thank you, friends!

  2. #2
    Gaze upon my shih-tzu powers! Billtrumpet25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paula View Post
    Hi fellow writers,
    Can anybody help me define my genre?
    I've read SO many definitions of genre and am still utterly confused where my book fits exactly. I'm afraid if I pitch as Urban Fantasy and it's actually Paranormal Mystery/Suspense, it will be a dealbreaker. And it also may be making me search for the wrong agent.

    My book is set in an unnamed town, in modern society but not specifically a city, and there is only 1 element of Fantasy or Paranormal in it (the character's true nature), which isn't even revealed up until the last couple of pages. I mean, deaths keep happening and the main character knows its her, but doesn't know everything about it.

    My character is not entirely human (she knows it) and in the last few chapters the secondary character starts realizing that is a possibility, and her reality is revealed (and there is an encounter with more beings like her, on the very last chapter).

    I used to think it was Urban Fantasy, simply because there is 1 element that is not of our reality. But now I am not sure if it's UF or Paranormal and if I should call it mystery as well because there is something we don't know that will be revealed little by little and full-blown in the end.

    Can somebody pretty please help me? It's taking me a lot of effort and guts to start resubmitting again and I want my chances to be the best they can be. I really wouldn't like something as the wrong definition of genre to screw up my chances with an agent.

    Thank you, friends!
    You are quite welcome.

    I'd pitch it as Urban Fantasy (with elements of mystery, but I don't see it necessary to bring that up unless asked).

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  3. #3
    Impractical Fantasy Animal sunandshadow's Avatar
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    If people keep dying, horror is also a possibility.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
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    This sounds like horror to me too. Rising body count? Spooky, barely articulated suspicion that something not quite human is involved? Even spookier suspicion that the something-not-quite-human is the main character? Goosebumps! Love it!

    If you have a Clive Barker-esque vibe going, I'd pitch it as horror. If the murderous non-human MC has a love interest, I'd pitch it as either urban fantasy or paranormal as that seems to sell really well and let's face it, you want the agent to think "I can sell this!" when they read your query.

    I'd stay away from 'mystery' as I suspect it's a bit like 'romance' and has a whole bunch of genre expectations attached to it that a non-mystery aficionado (such as myself) would have no idea about.

  5. #5
    Gaze upon my shih-tzu powers! Billtrumpet25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunandshadow View Post
    If people keep dying, horror is also a possibility.
    Yeah, but people die in fantasy, too.
    My WIP:

    War of the Wizard (Book 1): undergoing editing

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  6. #6
    Newb. Thick-skinned all the same. ShaylaElla's Avatar
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    You might have already been here, but this certainly helped me on my quest for a genre label:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_subgenres
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  7. #7
    KBO JJLindsell's Avatar
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    Maybe keep it simple - fantasy?

  8. #8
    Slave to the Wordcount WildScribe's Avatar
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    Yeah, I was leaning toward horror or suspense based on your description. It could just be that by describing elements you were picking out an unfair number of suspense factors and we're missing the point, but if the point is trying to figure out why people are dying all over the place, that sounds like horror or suspense to me.
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  9. #9
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    The point here is: yes, people keep dying, but the protagonist knows it is the one to commit the murders, though it's something stronger than her (her supernatural nature). BUT and here is the big BUT, all the reader knows until the last three chapters of the book, is that this character is a murderer (the murders are not described, only the aftermath, her recovering from it). They dont know they reason why the character murders. The fantastical element here is only revealed in the last two or three chapters, when the readers finally understand what the character is and why the characters commits those murders. We get small hints along the way, that the character is not really normal, but nothing is really revealed. Also, the book doesn't focus solely on the murders. It focuses more on the main characters dark and anti-social persona and how that makes the character interact with others.

    I am still getting the feeling that people who usually read fantasy will feel a lack of it during a large chunk of the book, but I feel obligated to call it fantasy simply because this character is paranormal! But I'm really concerned this is one of the reasons agents are not responding to the first pages they read. The first pages don't depict fantasy at all. They talk about the characters darkness.

    Should I just call it commercial fiction with a paranormal element?
    In a mystery, the main character doesn't know and is trying to find out, correct?
    And in thrillers... does the main character have to be in danger, or can it be the main character that represents danger to others?

    If i had to forget everything I know about the genres definition, I would call it: dark literary fiction. Or Dark commercial fiction. And maybe just scrap mentioning the paranormal thing. I don't know, I am still confused. :p

    (Oh my God, there are SO many genres in that wiki article! I didn't even know there were so many kinds of "punk" :P)

  10. #10
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    Boy, oh boy, this is a pain! Tell me folks, what you think of this:

    TITLE is a is a work of dark Commercial Fiction, which follows the life of a dangerous and mysterious character, whose secret paranormal nature is about to become unraveled.

    It's not very "pretty writing", but by now is the closest I got to being able to explain to the agents: hey, listen - you'll read this book up page X and you'll see strange things happening but no fantasy/paranormal stuff here. BUT there will be something paranormal. :p Do you think this may help them, when reading the first couple of pages, to understand this is going to be dark "regular" fiction until a certain point, but that there is a paranormal element involved (but only towards the end is it revealed)?

    I am going NUTS with this :p

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW
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    Have you figured it out yet? I'm kinda in the same boat.

  12. #12
    pretending to be awake onesecondglance's Avatar
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    Sounds like a horror story to me, if the MC is a murderer. Being not of this world sits fine under that umbrella as well.
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  13. #13
    Girl Detective AW Moderator Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    I was thinking horror as well. But you could call it Mystery, or even paranormal mystery, perhaps. William Hjortsberg's FALLING ANGEL (which became the movie ANGEL HEART) has a sort-of similar type of premise, and it appears to be classed as Mystery:

    http://www.amazon.com/Falling-Angel-.../dp/0312957955
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  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW victoriakmartin's Avatar
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    This is definitely a tricky one. I'm also inclined to go Horror, based on your description.

    Are there any books out there that you think are similar to your idea? Especially something new? Because that might help give you some clues, since genre is more marketing than anything else so it could help show you where the market for your book is.
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  15. #15
    Rebuilding My Brain Sheila Muirenn's Avatar
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    Paranormal horror?
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  16. #16
    Knight Templar richcapo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacia Kane View Post
    William Hjortsberg's FALLING ANGEL (which became the movie ANGEL HEART)
    Would you like an egg, Ms. Kane?

    Awesome film. Is the book any good?
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  17. #17
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. AW Moderator Torgo's Avatar
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    I don't think you really need to decide this, especially if the fantastic element is something of a twist. I'd just describe it as a novel and send it out with an appropriate query and synopsis, to the appropriate people.

  18. #18
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Horror sounds right to me, considering quite a large amount of horror (including almost anything by Stephen King) has a significant supernatural/fantasy element.
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  19. #19
    figuring it all out Karen Landis's Avatar
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    Would psychological horror fit?
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