Today I’m going to talk to you about genre. Firstly, what the heck is genre? well it literally means a type or kind. In the literary sense it means type or kind of literary subject e.g mystery, romance, horror etc. These are all genres.
If you’re going to start writing you have to have a sense of specific generic conventions within the genre. So in the genre of mystery there has to be a….mystery! To be even more specific readers expect some sort of crime or crimes to be solved by a sleuth or amateur sleuth. They expect clues and red herrings to keep them guessing.Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep” is a great example of the hard-boiled detective genre.
Genre allows readers to interpret books. When you delve into a genre you also set up expectations with your reader. If you choose to violate the codes of your chosen genre the reader will become very uncomfortable. But this can be effective! You can also choose to do a parody of a genre. If you write a parody of a genre it is meant to be a critique of that genre.
The best way to find out about a genre is to read in that genre. Read until your eyes fall out! Reading is absolutely essential to a writer as training is essential to an athlete. It’s how you learn as a writer from other writers. Read as a writer. make notes about how the author tells their tale.
Some genres are considered low-brow others are considered high-brow.
Keep in mind that genre fiction (anything written within a genre) is considered to be popular low-brow writing. This is where the big money is in writing. Think of Dan Brown’s wildly succesful “The Da Vinci Code”.
Literary Fiction – high-brow fiction. It is free from conventions and is therefore a genre-less genre! what counts here is artistic quality, it is most usually realist fiction (based in reality, not fantasy)
If you’re really stuck for ideas for your next story have a look through your old high school history books, re-read your childhood fairy tales, breeze through the classics. Waiting in there are a stack of ideas and ready made stories waiting to be re-told. A.N. Roquelare (Anne Rice) re-tells the story of sleeping beauty wonderfully in “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” A re-writing of a story is mostly meant to make a point about that story and its interpretation in our society. The best re-tellings make a point about what traditional society meant. a good example is Angela Carter’s short story collection “The Bloody Chamber”