Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What the heck does genre have to do with it

by Jude Mason

When I first began writing seriously I was asked, what genre are your stories in? My first reaction was, huh? I wrote sex stories. I wrote about people in all walks of life finding different ways to hop into bed/backseat of car, pond, hammock or streetcar to do the nasty. What was this genre thing?

I still feel somewhat like this. I know there's sci-fi, horror, gblt, romance, BDSM, historical and a dozen others, but what did that have to do with me? You mean I'm supposed to put a title on these things and decide on a genre? One genre?

Are you all insane?!

To this day, I rarely stick to one genre. What's the fun in that? Mixing it up, that's what makes it fun. It also just seems to happen. LOL Yes, after years of practice, and working for specific fetish e-zine for three years, I have learned to keep a story in one-ish genre. Sigh. But, honestly, other genres did creep in. I mean you start out writing romance, right? Then, you have the space aliens invade the civilized galazy and ~BAM~ you have science fiction in there. Or, the space captain is gay and you've got gblt along with it. It's just so easy to slip into something else, no matter how you plan things.

I grew up on science fiction and it still has a place in my heart. Bradbury, Heinlein, Burroughs and many more, all recognizable by their last names alone. I loved them and still do. Some of the things I've written I'm sure have a taste of them in it. I hope so, they were amazing artists. But even they strayed into mutli-genre works. Tarzan did meet and fall in love with Jane after all.

Do I think readers want us to stick to one genre? Well, the big NY houses would have us believe so. And they do sell. Although of late, I've heard rumblings that they're not doing as well as they'd like to and seem to be blaming us internet authors and our e-publishing houses. Methinks readers want to spread their wings as well. From the posts I've seen here and elsewhere, it's become pretty evident that readers like to explore as much as we the authors do.

Who'd a thunk it?

True, there are some who read strictly historical romance, and I have no issue with them. What you read in your off time is entirely up to you, and there are writers who love to fill your needs. But, I really do think people are ready for mixed genre books. They crave the escapizm we can give them. E-publishers are always after, something a little different, and the authors are struggling to fill those needs.

Yes, labeling these books isn't always easy. But, what's wrong with having a label that says, 'M/M, Sci-fi, romance' ? That'd be those two space captains I spoke of a second ago. *G* The readers will havea label to help them decide if it's the book their looking for. The publishing house is given an amazing book and the author has been give free rein to explore his or her creativity. I think it's a win win situation here.

But, it's still a hard sell. Too difficult to pigeon hole. Too frustrating for the seller.

Variety truly is the spice of life and I'm afraid if left to my own devices the genres can get pretty scattered. I'll always love BDSM, it's a lovely genre to write in. Femdom is in there too, and I do love a strong man bowing to a strong woman. *G* I'm really fond of m/m and the last few books I've written, both alone and with my co-writer, Jamie Hill, have been in that genre. I could go on with the genres I love to write, but that really could take pages. Paranormal, shapeshifters, historicals, f/f...and so many more. Mix em up, add a dab of another genre and it's got me going. Hopefully, it's got the readers going too.

Anyone have a single genre they like? Is that really a single genre or did one of those naughty sub-genres sneak in? Think about it.


  1. Yeah, we're pretty much all insane. But then, you knew that. *G*

    I say write what you like or love to write, and it'll fit in somewhere. If you're writing to a specific call you might not be able to do that, but the rest of the time, your writing should make you happy above all else.

    (Makes me pretty darn happy, too.)



  2. Hey Jude!

    You read Edgar Rice Burroughs? Someone at ERA said those were romance novels for young men. I think that's true, but I didn;t know girls read them. Those cave women painted by Frank Frazetta on the Ace paperback series were the material of a young man's wet dreams.

    I also thought that was interesting what you were saying about the advent of epublishers. Because there is less overhead in making digital books it gives e-publishers more room to experiment with new writers who are hard to classify. I don't think my brave little book would have gotten anywhere with Scribner's. Maybe someday. But I think fiction is at its best and worst at this time, because there's just so much of it. Its hard to know when you have a new idea or not.

    Good post.

    C. Sanchez-Garcia

  3. Thank you!!!

    I know that in brick and mortar bookstores it can be difficult for readers and booksellers alike to figure out the physical placement with multi-genre works, but they are still the most enjoyable for me as a reader and a writer!

  4. Jamie, thanks gf. I used to really wonder about myself. I mean some of the things I've written over the years would have shocked a well-seasoned sailor I'm sure. (although why a sailor would be seasoned I have no idea, but I digress) But, now I'm extremely pleased that those weird and wonderful stories are finding homes all over the place. *G*

    Yup, write what you love. That's the ticket.


  5. Hi Garce,

    Yes, I read Burroughs and loved the tales of Kartoom, the princess of Mars, John Carter and the Tarzan stories...sigh. Those women were extremely hot for sure. LOL Which for a budding bi-sexual made for some pretty wild imaginings. Sigh!

    I got my reading quirks mostly from my father, I read what he read. Mother read romance, and I found the romance of the time much too tame. Perhaps it was her tastes that kept the books tame, I honestly can't remember the titles of them. She did introduce me to some of the noirish detective stories, which were a great deal of fun.

    You're absolutely right about e-publishing having the chance to explore new genres and mixed genre books. Readers seem to like them, for the most part and I know I like writing that way. Yes, I'm sure I could fit myself into a pigeon hole somewhere, but I'd rather not. At least not as a steady diet. I do love squeezing into that for a little challenge though. That's one of the reasons I worked for a fetish site or two for awhile. Keep the stories fresh, meeting deadlines, it was a all great learning experience.

    Thanks so much for dropping by. Your comments always get my mind going.


  6. Luna,

    Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I do understand the difficulties brick and mortar face, but that's sales and if they want to please the public, they'll have to figure out some kind of system. *G* Yeah, I'm a great help... NOT. LOL

    I really do enjoy mixing it up. Peoples lives aren't a single genre, so how can most stories be?


  7. Okay, Jude, this was your topic, right? But so far, most of us Grippers as well as those who've left comments, agree that genres can be limiting and that we'd rather mix things up. So what did you have in mind when you originally proposed this subject? Did you expect it to turn out this way?


  8. I love a lot of genres. I rarely do any kind of selfhelp books and I rarely do non-fiction.

    Romance has always been the top of the list and I'll read most of the sub-genres.

  9. As long as there is romance in the story I don't care what genre it ends up being shelved.

    With the Internet I can find a book I like anywhere including print books no longer in print. When publishers figure out that in this tech savvy age acting like dinosaurs will just hurt their bottom line.

    Other than authors I knew before the Internet I usually read books by authors I've met on the Internet either through groups or sometimes even from one sentence in someone else's site that gives me cause to find the new author.


  10. Lisabet,

    Yes, this was my topic and I honestly had no idea it was going to swing in this direction. I was actually expecting a few authors to dive in and yack about the books they've written in the genres they love. Also, I was hoping to get a few readers to tell us what genres they liked to read, or hated to read, just opinions on that topic.

    What did happen was a real eye opener for me. I knew I loved to mixed it up, but I didn't realize readers were drawn so much to that style of writing too. It's really gratifying to know, what I've fallen into as my own style is what a good number of readers are looking for. Perhaps not in all the genres I write in, but in a large percentage. The happily ever after seems to be the real 'must have' and I can definitely handle that. *G*


  11. Connie,

    You're a sweetie, and I'm so glad you popped in to comment. Romance, and in all the sub-genres... yup, that covers a lot of ground. You're the reader we're all after.

    *Grabbing Connie and dragging her into my corner...hehehe!*

    Thank you so much for your comment.


  12. Ray,

    Yes, and you're one of those readers who will nibble at just about anything, but if the quality isn't there too, or you'll grumble. We've been friends for a long time and I value your input and experience.

    The internet has really shaken up the publishing world and I will always remember the day my husband and I went online. I can't remember the exact date, but we'd talked about it for a couple of months before to took the leap. I knew my world was going to change. I don't know if he felt the same, he seemed more worried about security than anything else. But, I know my writing was going to do something.

    If the brick and mortar stores don't wake up and take advantage of what the internet has to offer, I have a feeling there's going to be hell to pay. Too many people are finding e-books and e-publishing houses. The books are well written, they don't cost as much and they can get them NOW, which is huge. The next ten years is going to be amazing.

    Thanks so much for dropping in and sharing your thoughts with us.

    Cuffs and floggers


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