So, what’s in a name?
One of the first things people ask me is: what genre is your book? The other is: what’s it about?
I don’t know about other authors, but I find both of these questions extremely difficult to answer. The genre under which my novel was published is “Fantasy,” but that’s really not descriptive enough. As in life, my novel contains romance, suspense, mystery, home improvement, history, friendship, love, death and the whole damn thing. (To borrow a phrase.)
Yes, books need to be classified as fiction or nonfiction and then broken down into sub-genre, but that’s just to make the life of a person working at a bookstore easier when they’re filing your book on a shelf.
Thomas Hardy said, “Compared to the dullest human being actually walking about on the face of the earth and casting his shadow there, the most brilliantly drawn character in a novel is nothing but a bag of bones.” What I take this to mean is that writers can only create characters with broad strokes of their pens. We can’t write every single detail, it would make for a very boring read.
For example: one of my characters has a birthmark on her left leg and her daughter has one on her right. She’s left-handed and her daughter is right-handed. As the creator of this piece of fiction, I know this fact, but I haven’t passed it on to my readers because it really isn’t relevant to the story. It’s small facts like these that make people and differentiate characters from people, but I’m diverting from my main topic.
I’m talking about genres.
Genres have four main types: poetry, drama, fiction and nonfiction.
Since I write fiction, I’ll restrict my comments to that area. There are at least 20 sub-genres of fiction that I borrowed and edited from Wikipedia. So, here goes . . .
- Historical Fiction
- Magical Realms
- Science Fiction
I’m quite certain that you, my dear reader, will be able to think of more, but 20 is a pretty good number with which to begin.
Of course, there are specializations to each of these and combinations thereof. For example: Zane Gray wrote Western-Romance-Thrillers; Lewis Carroll combined Poetry and Fantasy in his Alice novels; and J.R.R. Tolkien combined Fantasy, Magical Realms and Saga in his Middle Earth-related books. For a non-author-specific example: Steampunk is a sub-genre of Science Fiction. Those are just a few examples.
In my opinion, a good book needs to combine many different genres in order to make the story feel real. A romance novel needs to have more than steamy love scenes in it if the author wants the book to be something more than two-dimensional.
The mail goal of an author is to tell a story. In order to do the telling properly, an author needs to make the story relatable. The best way to do this is to give the story pieces of everyday life.
Now, I could be wrong and I welcome comments. However, I know stories that I’ve read that gift the characters with everyday quirks seem more interesting and are able to draw me into them more than stories without.
Tell me, what do you think?
P.S. Update on the companion novel to my current release, “The Heretic’s Child.” I’ve changed the title once more (hence, the reason we call them working titles.) The latest is “To Tell a Lie”.
Please check out my website for information on upcoming appearances and for links to venues where my novel is available for purchase.