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View Full Version : I don't know my WP genre



DrZoidberg
02-25-2010, 04:22 PM
My WP started out like some sort of romantic drama comedy. Then became some sort of science fiction story. Even though the setting is quite contemporary and there's no science or magic in it. The imaginary world of the MC's can be described as science-fictiony, which is where about half of the story is set. My goal with the book is to shift the readers perception in novel ways (what book isn't?) but I'm trying to think way out of the box. It's on the fringes of meta-physics. The setting is the most generic middle-class life imaginable. I mean that quite literally. This is an important feature of the story and I've gone to great lengths to check the statistics.

I haven't really had a genre in mind. When I started, I just had this whacky idea, wrote a first chapter, and then my proofreaders applauded and started salivating for more.... so I just kept going.... and going...and going. It swelled into, now 120 000 words. I'm reaching the end. But I have no idea what my genre is. So far I haven't really cared. I've gone for whatever works, works and then just done it.

Here's my question.

Is this approach stupid? Should I have had a genre in mind all along? When I try to find a publisher for this, what do I tell them? Should I try to make it fit into a genre? And I'm trying to make money from this. I'm not trying to win prizes for the cleverest unknown novel of the year. I'm quite comfortable with measuring success in money and/or sales.

alleycat
02-25-2010, 04:36 PM
Just a personal opinion . . .

When I look at the books being published today I something get the feeling the writers all attended the same writing class. The blurbs on the back sound remarkably alike. That's an overstatement, of course, and the same thing could probably be said of a lot of movies.

So, I like it when someone takes a fresh approach. Just going by your short synopsis, your story at least sounds intriguing to me; a little "off the beaten path" but not so much to be completely weird.

I do think you might have trouble with that 120,000 word count, but it's probably too early to worry about it. That's why they make blue pencils. ;-)

ETA: I'm not sure about the genre. It's really hard to tell on this type of thing without having read the manuscript. You might be able to pitch it as mainstream or contemporary fiction even though you do have some unusual elements (thinking of it as A Confederacy of Dunces type of thing).

Stijn Hommes
02-25-2010, 04:48 PM
With details I can't be sure, but if it's not set in the future and doesn't have science/technology in it, your story is unlikely to be science fiction. If the MC has an imaginary world, it tends more towards fantasy, but it really depends on the details.

Your genre is the core of the story. If despite all the subplots and different genre tastes, it's still a love story it's a romance. If you focus on saving the earth from destruction it's either a disaster movie or science fiction.

What is the core concept of the story -- if you had to write a one line summary - what would it say?

CaroGirl
02-25-2010, 05:08 PM
Dystopian fiction?

JamieFord
02-25-2010, 05:55 PM
I wouldn't worry about genre as much as I would worry about the contract you're making with the reader within those first few chapters. You don't want to suck the reader in with romance/comedy and then just drop them into another world (or another story) entirely.

The viability of your book isn't in its ability to be shelved in the correct section of the bookstore. You can write something farcical, or meta-fiction, or literary, or slipstream--you can be as experimental as you'd like, just make sure the reader knows that's what you're doing early on.

Otherwise your cleverness as an author will only annoy the reader.

Dawnny Baby
02-25-2010, 09:57 PM
Yeah, I agree with what everyone is saying here. Write good stuff and the rest will follow. Sometimes you just HAVE to write what's in you w/o worrying about genres. I'd recommend giving your completed ms to someone who knows something about the industry (an editor, a librarian, etc.), and letting them tell YOU what genre it is. (At least, that's what I did with an editor/friend when I wrote my first ms and didn't know what to do with it.) That way, at least you'll know how to begin your agent-search (or however you plan to go about this).

The sci-fi market does seem to accept books in the larger page-range. If you can keep "science fiction" in the description, maybe you can market it "as is" to those types of agents w/o having to chop your word count.

DrZoidberg
02-26-2010, 01:49 AM
What is the core concept of the story -- if you had to write a one line summary - what would it say?

My idea is that we all have an army of voices in our heads trying to agree on what to do. We accept this without question, but then we have this tendency to work backwards and create a linear narrative about our lives, as if all the choices led up to this. Also, we have a tendency to simplify other peoples choice mechanisms, when we all know that they're in the same boat as us.

My core concept lies on the messiness of human choices, and how we look for patterns in what is mostly random. We want to love our wives as if they are beautiful little flowers, we want to protect them from all evil, but also we want them to function on their own, and also we want to fuck their brains out until the cry for mercy.... all at the same time. Several mutually exclusive opinions about our loved ones battling it out in our schizofrenic heads. And then we get kids, as if that makes life simpler.

Showing and not telling this, has been a bitch, to put it mildly. But I have something that works.... kind of. Needs a hell of a lot of tweaking and rearranging. But I think I've got a solid core story. At least I don't cry myself to sleep wailing about my story being boring. I've done that before. I'm learning.

Dawnny Baby
02-26-2010, 05:00 AM
Kick ASS story idea. I'd love to read it (or see the movie). Sounds kind of Rembrandt-meets-Picasso-meets-Seurat (if it were a painting). Cool! :)

DrZoidberg
02-26-2010, 12:17 PM
Kick ASS story idea. I'd love to read it (or see the movie). Sounds kind of Rembrandt-meets-Picasso-meets-Seurat (if it were a painting). Cool! :)

I'm not getting my hopes up. I'd put my book down as unfilmable.

Emily Winslow
02-26-2010, 01:36 PM
If despite all the subplots and different genre tastes, it's still a love story it's a romance.

While I agree with the spirit of your comment, I want to respond to this one sentence and say: not all love stories fit into the genre of "romance." (And yes, I understand there is a wide variation in sub-genres of romance.) "Romance" is a loaded term with certain expectations about it from its readers. I would say: if it's at heart a love story, then it's a love story.

(Dear Author critiques first pages every Saturday, and there was one recently where the author classified their submission as "contemporary romance." There was a lot of (smart) criticism toward it, much of it based on how it failed to meet expectations as a "contemporary romance." The author was much miffed, but the fault was the misclassification. Think if someone offered you pie, and you got a surprise bite of quiche. Yuck! (And I *like* quiche!))

Back to the OP's question:
Your book sounds really interesting. I was going to encourage you to carry on as you are. But then you said:


And I'm trying to make money from this. I'm not trying to win prizes for the cleverest unknown novel of the year. I'm quite comfortable with measuring success in money and/or sales.

So, yeah, you probably should have thought of genre first.

(I would *love* to get a prize for cleverest unknown novel!)(Assuming I would then get known ;-)