The Random Writing Post

So, I’ve been “working” (yes, you can read that as having finger quotes) on a YA. Actually, if you ask me, it only qualifies as a YA because the characters are young–I’m not even sure I’m gearing it toward younger readers. After all, I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer for ages (and when I catch it on TV, I still watch it). Just because the characters are young doesn’t mean the audience has to be by necessity. After all, in movies we have Stand By Me, which I think we can safely say was not a movie geared toward a young audience.

Which brings me to my point (egads! I actually have one!): I find the labeling of genres to be quite arbitrary. And pointless. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “But I don’t read romance.”

My first thought generally is, “You don’t?”

It’s been ages since I’ve read a story  I really enjoyed that didn’t have romantic elements. Shoot, if we’re delving into just romantic elements, husband now has a legitimate argument for why Terminator is a romance (honestly, it really is his idea of a romance. And sometimes, when the mood hits me just right, I actually see his point).

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read a book of literary fiction and thought, “But this is a romance.” Or the number of times someone in my family has whined about how I need to “write in a genre people want to read,” while she is reading what I would label as a romance. But don’t call it a romance. Those are read by little old ladies with blue hair and lots of cats, right? Right?

So many books these days are cross genre. Only some genres seem to me to be more socially acceptable than others. To me, there is often little difference between a historical romance and historlcal fiction. Love and relationships often features prominently in both. And while I understand the differences in genres, and I understand the subtle differences between those two genres, the distinctions seem somewhat arbitrary to me. Especially once people start telling me they won’t read romances but they just love historical fiction. Quite frankly, I can’t remember the last time I read a book of historical fiction that didn’t contain romantic elements. In fact, I recently read a delightful Regency that blurs the lines between historical fiction and Regency romance–and you know what? Just because I couldn’t peg which one it was doesn’t mean I didn’t love it, and that fans of both genres wouldn’t, either.

So, I ask you: Do you read a book according the genre it falls in? Are there certain genres you avoid? If so, why?

Additionally, if you do, I dare you: Pick up a book in a genre you don’t normally read. Hey, maybe you’ll discover a new and exciting author!


13 thoughts on “The Random Writing Post”

  1. I read whatever floats my boat. I love romance too, so I’m always happy to read anything with some romance in it. I can’t wait to hear more about what you’re cooking!

    1. I love romances in general, and anything with romantic elements in it. I read sci-fi and fantasy, contemporary, literary fiction, and YA. I like mystery and suspense and horror (though not as much now as I used to). I like to read books in general, and I guess a part of me doesn’t understand why there necessarily has to be any differences beyond fiction and non-fiction.

      In any case, I’m writing a straight up paranormal in a modern setting (boarding school!). I meant to do the follow up steampunk, but these characters are bugging me, so I guess the steampunk will get finished sometime later this year.

      Bring on the witches! 😉

      1. Sounds awesome and fun! I can’t wait. And I agree on the fiction vs. non-fiction. There are many great non-fiction books that read like a great story – I love those!

  2. I totally agree with you. The labeling of the YA genre in general confuses me. Isn’t that more of an age group than a genre? And isn’t it quite a large range? 13 and 18 year olds often don’t have the same taste in books, and if they do, I would guess that it’s more focused on what the story was about rather than the age group it was intended for…

    Good post 🙂

    1. Thanks, Avery!

      I agree with you–I think of YA as an age group rather than a category. I think a good story about younger characters is just that: a good story. Not a good story in a separate category, but a good story. Period.

      In any case, we’ll see where my non YA YA takes me!

      Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Thanks, BJ!

      I have this big thing for witches right now. I was going to write a straight up paranormal, but the characters struck me as so…young.

      I tried to make them older, and the story didn’t work, so, uh, I guess I’m embracing YA!

  3. I read every genre from textbooks to fiction. It doesn’t matter what it’s labeled. I love to read. If the book blurb sounds interesting then I read it.

    Romance novels have been unfairly given a stigma. But as you pointed out almost every genre has some element of romance in it. Most men won’t even consider reading the book blurb on a romance novel, yet they might learn a thing or two if they did read them.

    Since so many novels blur the lines between genres, it seems unfair to classify them under only one genre. Maybe they should be classified under multiple genres that way they can be enjoyed by all readers.

    1. I agree. I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction, and while I think that the categories of fiction and nonfiction should exist, I don’t think the other categories need to exist. And, like you, I’ll read anything with an interesting blurb.

      But I think that a certain stigma lies in certain categories, and people who are buying into the stigma are missing out!

  4. Thank you. 😉

    You would think someone who edits novels would like to read a lot of novels, but I am happiest with non-fiction; not only because I generally don’t feel the need to edit it, but because it’s always giving me new ideas for my writing time. (And when I edit historical books, I’m more likely to pick out anachronisms or other errors).

    1. I can see it.

      I don’t read a lot of nonfiction–I think I can count on one hand the amount of nonfiction I’ve read in the last few years–but lately the pendulum has swung back toward nonfiction. Maybe it’s your influence, or maybe it’s Tiny Daughter’s–she LOVES nonfiction. Anyway, I’ve been reading books on physics (for a lay person, and sometimes even then I think, “Wow, I don’t get it.”) and a book on the rise and fall of empires. All good stuff.

  5. I couldn’t agree more, Meggan. I often think genre labels are quite arbitrary. And i must admit that I never considered even labeling my novel MERLYN’S RAVEN “romance” until someone told me it fit that genre. Good thing, or I may not have published it! But I read in so many different genres, and as a writer, I don’t want to get pigeon-holed. I’m glad you’re writing what speaks to your heart! 🙂

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