A Question of Genre

Today I came across a post over at Legends of Windemere where Charles Yallowitz asks a few questions about genre writing. Naturally, I had to answer these questions, hence this post.

1.What made you choose the genre that you write in?  If not working within a genre, why did you go that route?
Hmm, for a long time, I considered myself a writer of fantasy and nothing else. I’ve enjoyed reading just fantasy for many years so why wouldn’t I consider myself a writer of it?
But now, I’ve come to terms with the idea that I tend to stay within a little niche of similar genres that belong under the big umbrella known as speculative fiction, which means I’m jumping from Science Fantasy, to Fantasy, to Science Fiction, to Paranormal, and lastly, to Semi-Historical Fantasy.
Often I don’t settle on the genre until I’ve finished with plotting the story. I actually called my paranormal a fantasy for a very long time (otherwise known as denial). The only constant in my stories is the romance (of varying levels).

2.What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of working within a genre?
It all comes down to tropes, really.
Every genre has them, and there are lots when you get into the similar and different speculative fiction genres, and I see understanding the tropes as well as knowing what ones are bordering on cliché as being both a weakness and a strength.
Does that mean I’m out of the cliché woods? I doubt it. Creating an entirely cliché free story would be exhausting if not impossible given the amount of works out there. I just do my best to steer clear of the big, cheesy ones.

3.Do you think genres crossover a lot more often than we realize?
Yes, actually. Especially when it comes to the breadth of fantasy. In any given story, there can be a variety of other genres at play. Mostly, I find the best books (and some of my oldest ones) have around three intertwined with the main genre. Mystery is a big one, as is romance. Horror and thriller are close seconds.

4.Would you try another genre or are you locked into your area as a specialist?  Do you believe this hurts you as an author?
I don’t think I could branch out any further when it comes to genre. That’s okay, though.
What I do attempt to create are different rules for each world. Given that’s seven entirely different realms, I likely do get overlaps on some details.
And I seem to have developed a fancy for silvery-blue light when it comes to representing magic. ^_^

5.Would you write within a genre that you don’t like, but is currently popular in order to get your foot in the door of the business?

No. Just … no. Even if I was ever that way inclined, I take too long to write anything that the current trend would be over before I’m published. I write because I want to tell that story whatever genre it may be in.

So there you have it. If you’d like to answer these questions yourself, I highly recommend popping over to Charles’ blog and grabbing the list of questions.

2 thoughts on “A Question of Genre

  1. Those are great questions. I've actually thought a lot about #3 while writing the Cera Chronicles, wondering “how do I classify these?” I may have to sit and think about answering those questions myself.


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