Why I Write in Different Genres

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

Many authors specialize in one genre: they’re romance, mystery, crime, science fiction, or literary novelists. In other words, these authors only write novels that fit into their chosen genre. This practise often makes sense because the author can build an audience by marketing his or her books to fans of romance or mystery or science fiction novels.

I have chosen not to do this.

My first novel, which is expected to be released in the spring of 2018, is a romance. And I really enjoyed writing it. But I never set out to pen a romance novel. My intention was to write the story in my head, and that story just happened to fit into the romance genre.

I’m now working on my second novel, and there’s nothing vaguely romantic about it. In fact, I’m not quite sure of which genre it could fit into. But, once again, I haven’t set out to write a novel in a specific genre; I merely have a compelling story to tell, and I want to share it.

For me, the most important thing is the story, a story that just needs to be told, a story that opens your eyes, makes you see reality in a new light, touches your heart deeply. If I limit myself to writing novels in one particular genre, I might end up limiting my imagination, and I won’t be able to tell the stories I really want to tell. I simply can’t function that way.

I have nothing against novelists who choose to write in one genre. Many of them are great storytellers and masters of their genre. But I prefer the freedom to write whatever I feel strongly about. I may or may not write another romance novel, but I have plenty of interesting stories to tell.




Photo credit: jaci XIII Window of the universe via photopin (license)</a>


Kathleen Jones’ first novel, Love Is the Punch Line, a midlife comic romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published in April 2018 by Moonshine Cove Publishing. Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas and sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

Genre or Literary Novel? Or Both?

When I sat down to write a novel, my goal was to tell a great story with great characters. Now that my novel is almost finished, I’m faced with a new dilemma: should I market it as a genre novel or as a literary novel?

Honestly, I’m not sure. “Genre” novels—that is, novels that fit into a genre, such as mystery, romance, or science fiction—tend to follow a specific formula. They’re driven by plot, follow a straightforward narrative that remains in the present, and are written to entertain. “Literary” novels don’t fit into a formula, are driven by character rather than by plot, follow a less straightforward narrative (flashbacks are common), and are written to convey meaning.

My own novel doesn’t quite fit into either of these categories. Like a genre novel, it has a strong plot, but a lot of the story is driven by the two main characters. It follows a non-linear narrative with flashbacks, and it deals with darker truths about the characters’ lives, two of the hallmarks of a literary novel. At the same time, my novel, like many genre books, is (I hope!) an entertaining, fun read.

What about characters? The characters in genre novels tend to be conventional, and the focus is on their outer lives, that is, their words and actions. Characters in literary novels tend to be more complex, and the focus is on their inner lives, their thoughts and feelings. Once again, the characters in my novel don’t fit neatly into these categories: they’re unconventional, and their exterior and interior lives are equally important.

Well, then, what about the other elements? My novel has the big climax (romantic) often found in a genre novel, along with the type of smaller climax (a series of insights) more characteristic of a literary novel. The ending? It’s a toss-up: it’s (sort of) happy like a genre novel’s, but some of the characters’ problems remain unresolved, similar to the endings of many literary novels.

Based on the above criteria, my novel doesn’t really fit into the genre or literary categories. But maybe it’s time to rethink this narrow system for classifying novels. There’s no reason why a novel can’t be both serious AND entertaining and contain both exciting plots AND complex characters. Or cross more than one genre, or appeal to a wide audience.

Want to Read More?

Novelist Elizabeth Edmondson tackles this subject in her post “The genre debate: ‘Literary fiction’ is just clever marketing.” See https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/apr/21/literary-fiction-clever-marketing-genre-debate

Do you think the system of classifying novels as “genre” or “literary” works? Feel free to post your comments.





photo credit: Jemimus Ivanhoe – Easton Press Edition via photopin (license)




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