I am sure other writers struggle with this as much as I do. Where do you put yourself? What box do you choose? WHY AM I EVEN IN A BOX?
But really...genres are exactly that. If you go to the book store, you will find books with a heavy romantic plot...in the romance section...sci-fi in sci-fi...etc. Genres are labels so the reader has an idea what they are buying and investing time reading. I totally get it. Genres set a general expectation of the story contained in that book.
But what do you do when your book has aspects of several genres? Where do you put it?
Recently there was discussion of this about Mistaken between myself and my editor. Mistaken has suspenseful elements, but it also has romantic elements.
Sooo... Suspenseful Romance?
Here is the thing, romance is not necessarily the main plot. It is by-product of my characters' situation and even with that there is a lot of conflict. Also, there are certain connotations that come with putting yourself in the romance category. Mind you, I don't think they are bad things...but there are certain things expected from Romance novels.
While Mistaken have some of those expected elements, it doesn't have them all. My other issue with labeling myself this way is that the other books I plan to write don't all have romantic aspects like this one does. If I plan to build a name for myself, bouncing around different genres probably won't do that. I think it's better to look at what I have written and what I plan to write and find a category that best encapsulates them all.
I suppose I will have to play it by ear. I am still researching genres before I officially say exactly what Mistaken is. Currently I feel that its not fully in either the Suspense/Thriller genre, or the Suspenseful Romance genre.
I think the best description of it is mainstream fiction with suspenseful and romantic elements. Honestly the more I read about mainstream fiction, the more I feel that is where my stories lie.
Either way you cut it though, this is why a good description is even more important than the genre. That way those readers that expect certain things from your novel know whether or not they might find that in your book.
Here are some good resources I found while researching genres myself.
- Genre Map
- What Is Mainstream Fiction?
- Identify Your Novel's Genre
- Genre Fiction Rules
- Genre Descriptions