Genre series kick-off — March 18, 2010

Genre series kick-off

You know how yesterday I announced that I’d officially shelved Oracles Promise and would be moving on?  I mentioned that there were a lot of lessons to be learned from this experience.  I’m here today to start the journey of sharing one of them.

Genre.  I’ve been questioning lately what genre is really “my” genre.  I’ve read fantasy all my life.  For the most part.  I did read Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the wee age of 11.  (Yes, I waited a whole 6-7 years after reading my first book to read this classic masterpiece.) (Note, I’m being facetious about the years, not the status of Ms. Austen’s book.)  Anyways.

This got me thinking.  What really goes into a genre?  Is there a better genre out there for me?  The first novel I wrote would likely be considered a romance.  Or metafiction.  Or both.  I don’t know.  Which is why I am researching genres and will be sharing the information I glean from the internet with you all in a very nifty thing I am calling my genre series.  (Clever title, eh?)

So, I thought I’d set off my genre series with some general definitions and such things.  I’ll get into specific genres over the coming weeks.  Just give me time to do the research.  (I’m thinking maybe only on Tuesdays so that I still have Thursdays to write about more timely things.)

This wikipedia article lists several criteria for defining genres.  I’ll summarize here, but you can click through the link if you wish.

Truth of the main story or general setting; character’s occupation; worldview of POV character; interest focus (character-based, plot-based, setting-based, etc.); setting; age range; author’s age; realism vs. idealism.

Wikipedia, of course, says that the list is incomplete.  We all know this.  But how do we determine what else to add to the list?

Thanks to the internet, a vast amount of information is readily available.  (I won’t attest to the accuracy of such information.)  Wikipedia also has a list of literary genres.

Absurdist, Adventure, Children’s, Comic, Education fiction, Experimental, Historical, LGBT, Memoir, Metafiction, Nonfiction, Occupational, Philosophical, Political, Pulp, Religious, Saga, Speculative, Horror, Fantasy, Suspense, Western, Women’s, Tragedy, Urban, Thriller.

Pretty much every one of these has a list of sub-genres.  Then there are the cross-genres.

I’ll not be touching all of these in the coming weeks.  (There are just some I won’t touch with a ten-foot pole.)  But I’ll hit on some of the major ones.  We’ll start next week, on Tuesday.  At this point I do hope to accompany each genre post with a list of examples (hopefully that I’ve read and can recommend.)

We’ll see how that goes.  Hope you all enjoy this series that’s coming up.  (Frankly, I’m hoping the same for myself.)

Ages and Dilemmas — October 8, 2009

Ages and Dilemmas

*we will be channeling the rejectionist today, to a certain degree*

Dear people, we are in a dilemma.  A dilemma of ages.  We wish to write this paranormal idea that we came up with a month ago.  We wish to finish it so it can be sold and that it can be the fulfillment of a dream.  We came to realize however that this hope is a false one.  We face a dilemma.  We face a book without a genre.  It is a book without a home in a bookstore.  It is not YA.  It is not adult.  It will get lost in the depths of the fantasy section of the bookstore.  Or it will get lost in the slush pile never to emerge from the deep shadows of 100 buildings.  You see, our characters are all adults.  They are not teenagers.  They are adults who do not engage in the sorts of activities which would make the book saleable to an adult audience.  Our characters are also not saleable in a YA market because they are over the magic age of 20.  But we cannot make it work to transform our characters into teenagers.  We fear our work is doomed to failure before it even gets fully realized.

You see, our research shows a general consensus on the internet that YA books must have characters between the ages of 12 and 18.  There may not be adults, or if there are their presence must be limited.  Conversations must be kept to a minimum.

It has been suggested to us that we stretch boundaries and create secret societies within NASA to enable our characters to be younger than they currently are.  But we fear this will cause our book to stray too far into the realm of a certain movie which we have only seen snippets of and wish to stay away from.  Besides which, our research also shows that you must be able to strip away the paranormal to return to everyday earth in order for it to be considered a paranormal.

Sigh, double sigh, and le sigh.

Works Referenced

YA Lit
Wikipedia: Children’s Literature
Fiction Genre Definitions
List of Fiction Genres
Defining Genres: Where Does Your Book Fit? from Query Tracker
Wikipedia: Young Adult Fiction
From Picture books to YA: Information to Get You Started from Query Tracker
Michelle McClean on Genre Definitions from The Literary Lab
Tess Hilmo on Middle Grade Books from the Literary Lab

Now we see our dilemma and it is disheartening us.

That is all.

So Many Books, So Little Time — September 15, 2009

So Many Books, So Little Time

We all know that as aspiring authors, novice writers, etc. we should read extensively. This reading should be done both inside and outside our preferred genre. Easier said than done, though, on so many many levels. this year I’ve tried once to break out of my comfortable reading zone of YA fantasy. It hasn’t worked. At all. Example: I tried reading Damsels in Distress by Joan Hess. It’s a murder mystery. I bought it as a publisher’s remainder at B&N for like $5 with money I got for graduation with my master’s degree. I lasted 60 pages or so before I retreated for my comfort genre. This is just one of several books I started this year but didn’t finish. But it is the only one outside my genre. The next book I read will be in that genre.

Whenever I can get to that TBR list, that is.

That said, I’ll now post said list in hopes that it will get me motivated to read through them.

The List
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
Eldest by Christopher Paolini
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
The Naming by Alison Croggon
Fall of a Kingdom by Hilari Bell
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Sturgeon
Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need by Susan Thurman and Larry Shea
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

So many books, so little time should also read “so little means.” Here’s my wishlist:

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Curse my phobia of library books that won’t allow me to borrow books to read for pleasure. (Research materials are another thing entirely.) Sigh.

OK, I’ll stop rambling now. But you tell me: Did I miss a book I absolutely should have on my TBR or wishlist? Is there something there you’d absolutely recommend against? What are your strategies for breaking out of your comfort reading genre? Would you like to see a list of what I’ve read this year? If so, when? This week? In December?

I’ll stop with the 20 questions now.

Novellas- Real or Myth? — August 4, 2009

Novellas- Real or Myth?

The current issue of Poets and Writers has an article on novellas. I found it to be an interesting read. I’ve labeled my story that I wrote recently as a novella simply because it is not quite novel length at a whopping 60, 822 words; however, at that word count it is clearly not a short story.

But this article got me wondering if it really is a novella or if I should be working on this story to turn it into a full-fledged novel. I don’t think it would sell in the real world so I’d have to find a Christian niche market. My characters never have sex, never really do anything but go to fancy dinners or have dinner with friends at home. It’s very non-edgy and clean, but I enjoyed writing it immensely.

The author of the article, Josh Weil, talks about what makes a novella a novella, but struggles with the traditional length-based definition of “novella.” My favorite quote from his article is from George Featherling that says to compare novellas to shortened versions of novels is the same as “insisting that a pony is a baby horse.” Weil adds, “Describing it [novella] as a short story, just longer, is like insisting that a Clydesdale is a thoroughbred with bloat.” Ha! Have to love the humor of these two, eh? (OK, I may be a bit skewed there having been raised around horses.)

I’d quote more of the article, but it’s just more argument for recognizing the novella as its own independent form. One that is overlooked by publishers and by readers in favor of the clearly-defined short stories and novels.

Though this gloomy-gus post from Pimp My Novel will discourage anyone from writing anything but a novel-length work of any genre…sigh.

So, do novellas really exist if we can’t define them? (I’d answer yes [edited from a no answer], but I may be biased.)

MS Hospital — July 27, 2009

MS Hospital

Ever wish there was a (an?) MS hospital? Elana J’s post this morning got me thinking. And I wanted to do something similar to what she did in her post.

Watch this first:

Now, don’t you feel sometimes that you’re doing nothing but asking stupid questions of your MS or characters and getting nothing but inane, “I dunno” type responses in return?

Ever wish there was a hospital you could send them to where they can be dignosed, treated, and released back to you healthy and robust with all the answers?

Guess what? There is.

It’s your brain.

Working on my characterizations over the last week, and soon moving into plot, has gotten me thinking. I think that I must only use one side of my brain or something when I write because the other side likes to come out and play when I’m doing the most random things. And that side of my brain has all the diagnostic answers. I just have to learn how to tap into it.

The first step is to get the patient delivered over there. And sometimes you really do have to look for somewhere to park before you can get it in through the door. Often that parking spot is a crit group or just that space dividing the hemispheres of the brain. Then the stupid questions start. But you have to start somewhere in order to work yourself up to ceding the dignostic control to the diagnostician. (Cue the theme music for “House.”) It starts with the standard questions: What’s wrong? What have you done to treat it? They take the vitals: viewpoint, length, depth of character, complexity of plot, etc. Then the MS goes into the waiting room.

This is the period of time where we’re supposed to be letting the MS sit and percolate in our sub-conscious while we write the next idea we have swimming in the brain. The wait period seems endless. But we have to go through it.

Then the nurse calls our manuscript back and we wait outside so as not to disrupt the doctors. (You’ve all seen that scene in any medical drama: distraught family member prevents doctors from doing their job so beloved on gurney crashes and is miraculously revived only after said loved one is escorted out.)

Finally, the diagnostician comes in and begins experimenting a la House. Tweak this, try this medication. That made it worse? OK, stop, reverse, try this.

It’s a process. And the stay at the MS hospital can be quite lengthy. But the questions are always asked and you’re always gonna have to figure out the scale and all that so that the doctors can get an idea of what sort of medicine to dose your MS with.

Then you get to go home and start lauding the advice, and telling others what to do whether they want to hear it or not.

And it starts again with the next revision!

OK, so this post was mostly just to put that video up there, but what they hey!