Hello all! I know I’ve been quiet for a little longer than anticipated… I have to admit, work life got in the way. But now I’m back! Refreshed after a little jaunt away to Greece and we’re already in the Christmas season! How did that happen?
In this post, I wanted to look at genre. It’s quite important, really. Well, until you start looking at it as a marketing aid. You like horror? Everything that fits neatly into horror goes into a nice little section on the bookshelf and you know exactly where to find what you’re looking for.
But, see, things aren’t always that easy. Harry Potter isn’t just a fantasy book. It’s a coming-of-age series, it’s magic, it’s got other elements than just fantasy. Lord of the Rings has some horror elements in there (Uruk-Hai, anyone?). Genre mingles and interweaves so much – and so much more in contemporary fiction – that it’s hard to place books into just one category sometimes. So, what can be easier, is to identify by themes.
The Hunger Games is YA fiction, right? But it’s dystopic (which some would argue is a trope of the genre). But it’s coming-of-age (again, perhaps another common feature which comes with the territory). It’s so many other things – it’s a relationship drama, it’s a love triangle, it’s saving the world. It might be, even, a cautionary tale.
My point is that when you’re thinking about what to write, you have to look deeper than genre. You can’t just say “I will write a horror novel.” You have to think what tropes you’ll include, and what themes you want to have in there. I might pick up a book because it’s horror, but the horror element isn’t what keeps me reading. What maintains my interest throughout the novel are the characters, the themes, the messages I’ll find because of those themes. Of course genre is a good diving board to start from, but you have to swim through the pool and find the hidden treasure under the waves, expose it and polish it up in your novel.
Damn I’m good at metaphors.
In my next post I might get a little preachy, so I apologise in advance. Let me know what your favourite genres are and your favourite genre tropes – or even tropes from one genre than can cross into other!