Real Mistakes, Real Laughs:

Air bases were built on captured islands of Tinian, Saipan, and Guam but they were barley within the range of the long-range bombers.

(hope the bombadiers weren't on gluten-free diets)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Navigating Genres

Each year, hundreds of thousands of book manuscripts are submitted to agents and publishers every year, with about 100,000 books making it into print. Consequently, the skill of categorizing these books has gone from no-brainer to brain-buster, especially for fiction. Is it mystery, romance, or drama? Literary or commercial? Middle-grade, young adult, or VERY adult? The types of genres and sub-genres are ever-widening.

Take "chick lit," for example. This genre, whose name is taken from the cinematic "chick flick," (i.e., the mushy story women love)has been so popular in the recent years that it's spawned sub-genres like "mommy lit," "lady lit," and "lad lit." If it seems hard for writers to pigeon-hole their markets, imagine what the poor readers must experience.

The tenacious fiction trend right now is the paranormal novel, what used to be called "ghost stories." Over the past decade, writers of this genre watched it try on different names: metaphysical fiction, New Age fiction, visionary fiction...until the "paranormal novel" took root and spread. Not to be outdone by chick-lit, the paranormal has its own sub-genres such as vampire, life after death, and fairy. There's even a sub-sub-genre called "vampire romance," which must be Fabio biting your neck.

So the next time you ask someone what she likes to read, don't expect a simple "fiction." More likely it will be something like "literary historical speculative roman-a-clef novels." But don't worry; no doubt someone is already penning "Fiction Genres for Dummies."

Novelist Cynthia Polansky's newest book is paranormal "thinking chick's lit" REMOTE CONTROL (Echelon Press 2007). To find out what that means, visit www.cynthiapolansky.com.

1 comment:

One Man and his Dogs said...

Another "paranormal" sub-genre which seems to be on the increase is what I call the "enigmatic paranormal", in which events may or may not have a paranormal explanation. A successful example is UK author Phil Rickman, whose books, featuring female priest Merrily Watkins, are set on the Welsh Border. And being set in locations which I know, in my part of the UK, and also dealing with the issues of contemporary rural life, I find very enjoyable.

I must admit that the ever-spiralling numbers of fiction genres makes me rather glad that I'm no longer a librarian, faced with the task of deciding which section to shelve them in :-)


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