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View Full Version : Genre: Friend and Foe.



Gary Clarke
01-13-2010, 04:18 AM
I was talking about Genre on insideadog this week. How it helps to know what you are, but how you shouldn't let it cage or confine you during the creative process. Thought I'd share the cartoon that went with the article :0) I suspected it might resonate with those of us who are published.

http://www.celinekiernan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/dragon2.jpg

LOG
01-13-2010, 06:37 AM
I'm not published so maybe I'm missing something here...but I don't get it.

Gary Clarke
01-13-2010, 11:39 AM
I'm not published so maybe I'm missing something here...but I don't get it.

Heeheh. Maybe it's more of a contextual cartoon :0)

blacbird
01-13-2010, 12:07 PM
I suspected it might resonate with those of us who are published.

It resonates among those of us who are never to be published, too: It's like learning to color within the lines in kindergarten; you don't write inside the genre box, you're pretty much screwed.

caw

Gary Clarke
01-13-2010, 12:12 PM
Perhaps! I still believe you have to write from the heart, regardless, that's where the best work comes from.

blacbird
01-13-2010, 12:19 PM
Perhaps! I still believe you have to write from the heart, regardless, that's where the best work comes from.

I completely agree, with the caveat that "best work" is personally subjective. "Successful work" is less so, being dependent on the marketplace, which is more than ever a succession of discrete square holes your triangular peg won't fit very well.

caw

Albedo
01-13-2010, 12:19 PM
It resonates among those of us who are never to be published, too: It's like learning to color within the lines in kindergarten; you don't write inside the genre box, you're pretty much screwed.

caw

I tried to colour within the lines in kindergarten and stabbed myself in the eye with a crayon. How are my publishing chances?

Gary Clarke
01-13-2010, 12:22 PM
I tried to colour within the lines in kindergarten and stabbed myself in the eye with a crayon. How are my publishing chances?

If you write awesome shizz they're as good as any two eyed feller. Despite what bitter old blacbird says :grin:

Jamesaritchie
01-13-2010, 09:10 PM
Every book ever written, including literary novels, is either a genre novel, or a mish-mash mess that doesn't fit anywhere, not because it isn't genre, but because it isn't anything.

Gary Clarke
01-13-2010, 10:49 PM
Every book ever written, including literary novels, is either a genre novel, or a mish-mash mess that doesn't fit anywhere, not because it isn't genre, but because it isn't anything.

You've read them all? Every single book ever written?

Phaeal
01-13-2010, 10:58 PM
No, teacher, teacher, over here! I've read every book ever written! Twice! Uphill both ways!

Cool cartoon. I'm hoping for the time, nine books down the line, when they're screaming for number ten. ;)

Gary Clarke
01-13-2010, 11:03 PM
*gives Phaeal a gold star* You are the bestest reader evers.

Here's to being constricted by our own success! *raises glass of bubbly genre*

Libbie
01-13-2010, 11:57 PM
Heh heh...I like it.

You're so talented!

Dawnstorm
01-14-2010, 08:50 PM
You've read them all? Every single book ever written?

It's like this. If you like typology, you'll make up types. If you like a book, you focus on the elements that make it fit a type. If you don't like a book, you focus on the elements that don't make it fit a type. If it fits no type at all, but you like it, you make up a new type, look for others that fit, call the book in question a prototype, and the others are genealogy.

You then engage in vigorous arguments with people who think that books that fit a type are pre-constructed tripe.

The genre game is fun, but it's really not always about the stories.

***

ETA: I just love your cartoons. The writer's expression at the knight's posture is priceless!

Gary Clarke
01-14-2010, 09:21 PM
Say what now?

ETA: Thanks so much!

Seriously though - I think I understand what you mean. But I'm pretty sure I don't!

Dawnstorm
01-14-2010, 10:12 PM
Seriously though - I think I understand what you mean. But I'm pretty sure I don't!

JAR said:


Every book ever written, including literary novels, is either a genre novel, or a mish-mash mess that doesn't fit anywhere, not because it isn't genre, but because it isn't anything.

I neither agree nor disagree. It depends on how you approach literature, and how you deal with classification difficulty.

You replied with a specific question:


You've read them all? Every single book ever written?

What would that change?

Classification difficulty can be overcome. You judge if it's worth the effort. If it's worth the effort, you amend your classification theme to account for the new book. A new genre, an expansion of the scope of existing generes...

Some people see genre expectations as restrictive. Genre is boring... These people will generally focus, not on how a novel expands what the genres mean, but on how a book "breaks genre expectations".

These two approaches can say much the same thing about texts, but still clash because of the fundamental difference in emphasis that expresses itself in language. It's not about the text, but about the world-views of the critics.

I was being flip about it, with a bit more sympathy for the "genre expectations are restrictive" approach, but without really favouring either. And I didn't successfully communicate.

And note that I've classified approaches to literature and genre into two types. Heh. What does that say about me?

SPMiller
01-14-2010, 10:13 PM
And the moral of this story is: standalone fantasy novels are plain better.

Jamesaritchie
01-14-2010, 11:37 PM
You've read them all? Every single book ever written?

Yes.

Gary Clarke
01-15-2010, 12:18 AM
Yeah, must confess, I've only a fuzzy idea what you're saying Dawnstorm, but that's because I'm ( genuinely) clueless and more then a little disinterested when it comes to the critical classification of literature. A lot of which seems to happen after the fact and with little heed to what the writer themselves may have thought on the matter. I'm all about the book by book reading experience me - and when it comes to writing I'm all about 'write what you need to write'.

Maybe the article will clarify where I'm coming from? insideadog: Genre: friend and foe. (http://www.insideadog.com.au/residence/index.php/celine-kiernan/genre-friend-and-foe/) It's nothing deep or erudite. Just me rambling on based personal experience/opinion rather then any kind of educated view of lit in general.

kuwisdelu
01-15-2010, 12:31 AM
Yeah, must confess, I've only a fuzzy idea what you're saying Dawnstorm, but that's because I'm ( genuinely) clueless and more then a little disinterested when it comes to the critical classification of literature. A lot of which seems to happen after the fact and with little heed to what the writer themselves may have thought on the matter. I'm all about the book by book reading experience me - and when it comes to writing I'm all about 'write what you need to write'.

I believe what she's saying is "I don't care what other people call it; I just read and write what I like."

Which I completely agree with.

I don't read or write genres. I read and write books. I read and write stories.

Gary Clarke
01-15-2010, 12:33 AM
I believe what she's saying is "I don't care what other people call it; I just read and write what I like."

Which I completely agree with.

I don't read or write genres. I read and write books. I read and write stories.

Really? ( God I am so THICK) If so, I am totally down with that. It's my attitude entirely.

Jamesaritchie
01-15-2010, 04:19 AM
If you don't have a sparkling clear idea of what genre you're writing in before you begin a book, odds are you'll write a completely unpublishable book. Rightfully so.

kuwisdelu
01-15-2010, 04:32 AM
If you don't have a sparkling clear idea of what genre you're writing in before you begin a book, odds are you'll write a completely unpublishable book.

Maybe.


Rightfully so.

Speaking as a reader... I can't think of anything more wrong.

Jamesaritchie
01-15-2010, 05:45 AM
Maybe.



Speaking as a reader... I can't think of anything more wrong.


Then you're a reader who's never read a slush pile.

And as a reader, how in the world can you possibly know whether all those published novels were written with or without a specific genre in mind? I guarantee that pretty much every published novel you've read and loved began with teh writer knowing exactly what genre he was writing in.


Either that, or he should have been playing the lottery isntead of writing because he was the world's luckist person.

virtue_summer
01-15-2010, 06:32 AM
If you don't have a sparkling clear idea of what genre you're writing in before you begin a book, odds are you'll write a completely unpublishable book. Rightfully so.

I'm calling bogus. Why? Because books can often be classified in multiple genres. Some urban fantasies are also called paranormal romances. A novel might be referred to as both a thriller and a horror novel. Some genres are very close. Also, I've run across authors who said they originally called their work one thing (such as horror) and it was published as another (fantasy). What about how author reputation affects our ideas of their book genres? Example: Stephen King's considered a horror writer so Firestarter and The Dead Zone get classed as horror. If he didn't have the rep, though, I'm guessing they might be called science fiction. Genre is not as simple as it seems.

kuwisdelu
01-15-2010, 08:11 AM
Then you're a reader who's never read a slush pile.

And as a reader, how in the world can you possibly know whether all those published novels were written with or without a specific genre in mind? I guarantee that pretty much every published novel you've read and loved began with teh writer knowing exactly what genre he was writing in.


Either that, or he should have been playing the lottery isntead of writing because he was the world's luckist person.

Good writing is good writing no matter what you call it.

scarletpeaches
01-15-2010, 08:18 AM
If you don't have a sparkling clear idea of what genre you're writing in before you begin a book, odds are you'll write a completely unpublishable book. Rightfully so.Oops. I guess that means no-one will ever ask to read a full of my manuscr-

Hey, now wait a minute!

scarletpeaches
01-15-2010, 08:20 AM
If the editor knocks it back I shall, of course, assert my right to deny I ever bragged about that.

Gary Clarke
01-15-2010, 01:51 PM
I have every finger and toe crossed for you, Scarlet!

Dawnstorm
01-15-2010, 10:49 PM
Yeah, must confess, I've only a fuzzy idea what you're saying Dawnstorm, but that's because I'm ( genuinely) clueless and more then a little disinterested when it comes to the critical classification of literature.

Nah, it's because I'm not the most straightforward thinker and often don't make myself clear (i.e. "Never mind me, I'm being Dawnstorm again.)


Maybe the article will clarify where I'm coming from? insideadog: Genre: friend and foe. (http://www.insideadog.com.au/residence/index.php/celine-kiernan/genre-friend-and-foe/) It's nothing deep or erudite. Just me rambling on based personal experience/opinion rather then any kind of educated view of lit in general.

Check. :)


I believe what she's saying is "I don't care what other people call it; I just read and write what I like."

That's the basic attitude behind it, yes. But I'm also saying: You tell me what genre this story is and I'll start guessing at your worldview. You know, like: "If it contains nudity, it must be porn."

For example:


If you don't have a sparkling clear idea of what genre you're writing in before you begin a book, odds are you'll write a completely unpublishable book. Rightfully so.

The world is an ordered place, and if you don't know this you get left behind.

From my perspective:

Refusal to face that the world's really a bloody big mess.

Gary Clarke
01-15-2010, 11:32 PM
The world is an ordered place, and if you don't know this you get left behind.

From my perspective:

Refusal to face that the world's really a bloody big mess.

Amen, sister. A big bloody mess and no one set way of getting through it.

Dawnstorm
01-16-2010, 09:27 PM
I believe what she's saying...


Amen, sister.

I didn't say anything the first post round, because I don't really care, but this could cause awkward confusion in future, so:

Hi, I'm Edward. Pleased to meet you. :D

Gary Clarke
01-16-2010, 09:43 PM
LOL *shakes hands across the confusing screen names divide*
Hi, I'm Celine.

( though, in truth, I do say 'amen sister girl friend' to everyone, regardless of what may or may not dangle between their legs.)

kuwisdelu
01-16-2010, 10:10 PM
I didn't say anything the first post round, because I don't really care, but this could cause awkward confusion in future, so:

Hi, I'm Edward. Pleased to meet you. :D

Oops!

Dawnstorm
01-16-2010, 10:52 PM
LOL *shakes hands across the confusing screen names divide*
Hi, I'm Celine.

( though, in truth, I do say 'amen sister girl friend' to everyone, regardless of what may or may not dangle between their legs.)

Take that, gender expectations! :D


Oops!

No problem. I just didn't want to cause an awkward moment when I said, say, how much I hate shaving.

I've had people, online, resisting the idea that I'm not female, would you believe it?