Friday, May 17, 2013

Genres (and other news...)

I guess I'll start with the other news.  If you don't want to read the other news, skip down to the picture of the poodle and begin reading there.

Once Upon a Time season 2 has ended (WAHH!!!) so expect my depressed fangirling highly intuitive thoughts on it soon.  Don't worry, I'll tell when spoilers are coming.

I've just spent a few days in Georgia with my grandparents.  It was awesome and relaxing, but very infuriating.  Awesome cuz my relatives are awesome.  Relaxing cuz it's way out in the country and very beautiful.  Infuriating because I planned on spending hours and hours editing Ember Flame.  Instead, I ended up getting addicted to the Mistborn trilogy and read the entire first book and half of the second one!  Grr...

School is closing out.  Already finished chemistry, English, logic, and Latin.  All I've got left is history, literature, and math!  (I'll be doing math all summer though...hehe...)

While in Georgia, I was griping and complaining incessantly brainstorming ideas for the next Leverage book with my very patient little sister.  ("But I don't want to do that, but I'll have to for the story to flow, but I think it's cliche, and I can't fix it!"  "I see."  "Yeah!  It's awful!  Maybe I should trash the whole thing!"  "Maybe."  "But I can't do that!  I've got to tell this guy's backstory but I don't know what the heck his problem is!  I don't know his backstory!  What kind've author doesn't know their characters backstory???" "Your kind of author.")  AHEM.  Anyway, during all that, I did manage to come up with this crazy awesome idea for the next Leverage book.  I'm finally getting excited about writing it.

Why wasn't I excited?  Well I've been slightly distracted by this new story idea which I will tell about later....

Okay!  Enough news!  Onto the actual post!  (The poodle has nothing to do with this post.  I just like him.  Don't you like him?  I like him.)

On the National Novel Writing Month Young Writers forums, there was a forum called "Genre Junction."  The purpose of it was for young writers to help other young writers find out what genre their story fit in.  The person needing help would write about paragraph describing their story, and then other peeps would ask questions and reply what genre they think the story belongs in.  I would go on occasionally to help other young writers.  I never actually used it because I always knew what genre my story fit in.  It was strange to me that others didn't.

Anyway, I was on there once and some trolling kid just randomly said, "Genres are stupid!  They try to put you in a box!  You can do all the genres at once if you want!  Who are publishing houses to try and wash down your possibilites?"

I didn't reply, but it did make me chuckle.  (Uhh...they're the publishers?  They can do whatever the heck they want. Cuz they're the publishers.)  It also made me think though.  I understand the purpose of genres. They are to help readers find books in the type of form they like them.  But are they good for something more?  I mean, after all, you can combine genres...sort of.  You can have romance in a fantasy novel.  You can have sea monsters and fantastical elements in a historical novel.  The actual genre is just based on what there is most of, right?

That is true.  But I personally use genres to help me stay true to my story and writing.  By remembering that my novel is a fantasy novel, I remind myself not to put too many angsty teen problem scenes.  I remind myself not to rely too heavily on explaining the magic...cuz it's magic.

So that's why I believe genre is neccessary.  It helps you pin down what you need to stick with in your story.  But the aforementioned troll went on (during the obligatory heated debate that  to say that narrowing down your age group for your book was mean and hateful by those awful publishing companies.

It was a funny debate, I assure you.

Anyway, I really disagree with this.  Not only do age groups help kids and adults find appropriate books, but they also help me, the author, keep in mind what I should or shouldn't do, and how far I should describe something. 

For example, while I was writing 'Hail Frost,' I had a movie in my head of what it should look like.  I let my fingers just type what I saw in my mind.  However, some of what I saw ended up being too gory for a book for 11-14 year olds. You know, being a Christian really does have many, many perks.  Every time I would write something too violent, I could sense the Holy Spirit gently telling me that that was too much.  Yeah, it was obnoxious sometimes.  But I listened every time, and every time I went back and changed or softened the scene, I always ended up with an idea a lot better than the one I originally had.

What I had written before wouldn't have been bad or sinful.  I've read stories with a lot worse violence than anything I wrote.  However, it was wrong for the age group I was writing for. 

So yeah.  After this very rambly post, I guess my point is that genres are helpful, not hindering, tools for authors to use.  :)

1 comment:

  1. I agree that genres and target-audiences are good tools for an author. I don't see those as restrictive boxes, but, like you said, very freeing boxes.

    I also don't subscribe to the idea that the publishing houses' categories/age-ranges are the end-all be-all... I think there are target audiences they ignore and genres they don't think would sell well. This is part of the reason for the explosion of independent authors these days (that, and the rise of POD companies that will let you put your stuff out there at very low costs) :)