What’s in a Genre? Everything!

Genre: noun. Plural thereof is genres. Meaning? A class(es) or category(ies) of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like: the genre of epic poetry; the genre of symphonic music; the genre of figuring out where my book fits on the shelf…

We’ve asked before “What’s in a name?” And we know the right name for a protagonist or an antagonist conveys an instant image, a feeling, a connection (or lack of one), between the reader and the written words, or an idea of character (or lack thereof) and more.
For instance, if we name our hero “Faith” in our imaginary story, our minds go full throttle in one direction. Name our hero “Danger,” and those same minds likely tear off into another direction altogether.

We choose wisely our very own Happy, Dopey, Sneezy, Doc, Bashful, Sleepy, Grumpy, when we write.

And we have to choose wisely when we market out works to have them in the correct genre, making sure the right readers get to the right works.

But for you which comes first? Genre? Or the writing and the finding of a genre? For me, it’s the writing. And then the trying to fit the writing into a genre. I think I might work backward.

For the other members of our Florence S.C. Writers Workshop group, the genre sort of comes first. One is, predominately at this time (because you know us writers hate to be locked in boxes), a fantasy and urban fantasy novelist; two others are Christian fiction writers; and still another is a paranormal, sci-fi-ish writer, mastering the short form. One of the Christian fiction writers who just loves to be thrilled by Dean Koontz, has a genre designation for her works as “Christian speculative suspense.” (Insert plug here: Regina Smeltzer’s Retribution will be out June 1 and is being published by Pelican Book Group with the Harbourlight Imprint.)

As for other genres, there are romances and westerns, mysteries and supernatural. There are suspense and thriller and horror. Slice and dice our products and we can categorize them into scary, really scary and incredibly scary; true, not so true and really not true at all. And the list goes on and on.

Choose the identifying of your genre of writing well, because, well, what’s in a genre? Everything, if you want readers to find you. In an April 2015 post to Writer’s Digest Online, author Catherin Ryan Hyde, said after “five novels with a Young Adult publisher, it became clear that the books weren’t quite finding their audience. A segment of mature teens enjoyed them, but they seemed most popular with adults.”

Her conclusion? “Maybe I really was writing Coming of Age fiction after all.

“Those who write may think they know their target market. They may even feel they can shape the work to fit it. If this is true of you, you have more control over your creative process than I do. Even so, I humbly submit that you try letting your writing shape your target market instead and see what happens.”
dianne poston owens 1Dianne Poston Owens is a weekly newspaper editor, freelance writer and member of the Florence Chapter of SCWW. One day, she will finish writing a book and have it published. She lives along the Lynches River in the Hannah community of South Carolina. You can follow her on Twitter.

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