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Thread: Genre... still not sure where my novel fits

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Troyen's Avatar
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    Genre... still not sure where my novel fits

    Reading the tread about what the difference is with mainstream, contemporary or literary was very helpful. But I am still not sure where my book fits in. I am hoping someone here can help me. My novel involves the issue of child abuse, but it is ultimately a story about the MC's process of healing from the scars of her past while helping a young girl to face hers. At the moment the best comparison I can think of is that it is a little like a Pat Conroy novel. I hope someone can help me.

  2. #2
    figuring it all out ryanswofford's Avatar
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    That would be a literary novel, moreso than a contemporary novel. It sounds like a few great titles I've read! Good luck.

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin tanyadavies's Avatar
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    I'm currently querying a book dealing with similar issues and class mine as literary but that is as much to do with the style /feel of my writing - I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by Troyen View Post
    Reading the tread about what the difference is with mainstream, contemporary or literary was very helpful.
    I'd be interested to get direction to this thread if you are able. Thanks and best of luck.
    Tanya Davies - Follow as I blog and generally try to figure out what on earth's going on.
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  4. #4
    Moon Safari owlish's Avatar
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    Going to third the "literary" genre.


  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW
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    I don't think anyone can just say it is literary without seeing your work. Well, I guess some people have here. But, really, does it matter?

  6. #6
    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    I matters when pitching to an agent or editor. And whether it is literary or "mainstream fiction" or possibly "women's fiction" depends on the tone of the writing. Ask yourself this...how much do you concentrate on making the writing "beautiful" and being philosophical and deep. If you do those things then it is probably literary. (If you've done them very well) If on the other hand you have concentrated more on plot and story telling and drama then it is more commercial. Since your characters are female you could pitch it as women's fiction and there are plenty of agents around looking for more women's fiction.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
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    I have to disagree. I don't think it matters when querying an agent or publisher. Let them make the call as to what they want to market it as. I never specified when I was sending out my novel and no one ever said is it mainstream or contemporary or literary? We must know.

  8. #8
    Tyrant King jeffo20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gettingby View Post
    I have to disagree. I don't think it matters when querying an agent or publisher. Let them make the call as to what they want to market it as. I never specified when I was sending out my novel and no one ever said is it mainstream or contemporary or literary? We must know.
    And just out of curiosity, what were the results of those queries? Not trying to pick a fight or anything, I'm honestly curious if you've gotten good response or not (for all I know, you're a mega-bestseller). Anyway, one of the biggest complaints I've seen agents gripe about in interviews is receiving queries for genres they don't represent. If you don't know your own genre, how are you going to pick the right agents to query?
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  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW
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    Most literary agents represent both literary and mainstream works. Genre really only comes into play if you are actually talking about genre works like science fiction. But that's not what we are talking about here in a literary-mainstream thread.

  10. #10
    Writers gon write. JimHeskett's Avatar
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    is the focus on plot, or on character? that's the main distinction
    "If it sounds like writing, rewrite it" - Elmore Leonard

  11. #11
    figuring it all out
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    "Is my novel literary?"

    Let someone else answer in regards to your writings literary merit. Certainly don't proclaim yourself the next John Fowles or Nicole Krauss or whatever your favorite writer's name is.

    For the sake of approaching agents, if the conflict in more internal then lean towards 'yes, it's literary,' but don't say it. If you've written The Godfather and plot machinations and intrigue are the crux of your story it may be more commercial, but that doesn't mean it can't approach 'literary.'

    To me, 'literary' is a word like 'postmodern:' it means something different to everyone and seemingly no one can write a consensus definition short of a dissertation.

  12. #12
    'Out of the Shadows' HarperCollins SentaHolland's Avatar
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    I had a similar problem with being 'literary' - which in my case meant that I didn't seem to fit into any genre. It made the journey longer and more difficult and I can see why - readers' opinions are divided, depending on what they think of 'literature'. I don't think that saying a book is 'literary' makes you arrogant, it's just a description of focus on form and language, I think.
    Senta Holland
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