While working on Sins of the Mother, certain scenes made me question the story’s genre.
I listed it as Thriller/Suspense for CampNaNo, but the mystery of the story is a common thread throughout the read.
Not wanting to settle for the all-encompassing Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense garbage-bag term, I consulted my wise Literary Wizard, an ex-pat Brit with a way with words and a fondness for chocolate.
After a few pertinent questions, she sent me a link defining the genres in question.
The link helped me decide, but it also opened up the whole confusing realm of writing genres.
After several searches, I found there is an accepted definition of genre but not so much what falls into those genres.
Merriam-Webster defines genre as
a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content
Key in that definition is “… particular style, form, or content”
Who gets to decide?
In the past, traditional publishers categorized books for maximum exposure and sales.
But with the advent of self-publishing and small presses, the decision now falls to authors themselves.
Are we doing it correctly?
Depends on whom you ask.
Wikipedia defines literary fiction as one or more of the following:
a concern with social commentary, political criticism, or reflection on the human condition.
a focus on “introspective, in-depth character studies” of “interesting, complex and developed” characters, whose “inner stories” drive the plot, with detailed motivations to elicit “emotional involvement” in the reader.
a character-centric work (here in a pejorative sense) and, even, portraiture at the expense of any substantive plot.
a slower pace than popular fiction. As Terrence Rafferty notes, “literary fiction, by its nature, allows itself to dawdle, to linger on stray beauties even at the risk of losing its way”.
a concern with the style and complexity of the writing… “elegantly written, lyrical, and … layered”.
Browse the literary fiction category of any online retailer. None of the criteria will apply to many of the books found there.
The same goes for the sub-genre, multicultural.
What makes a book multicultural? The author? Content?
Is multicultural the inclusion of more than one real-world ethnicity or culture, or does it also apply to alien, vampiric, and lycanthropic pairings?
Sounds bizarre, but you’ll find all the above and more in the genre.
Genre placement (or misplacement) begs the question, “are genres even relevant anymore?” And are they for passion—writers sharing their work with like-minded readers; or profit?
It’s an issue which will continue to be debated while the onus is on readers to sort it all out.
Day 17 word count – 30, 717