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So Many Genres So Little Time

April 21, 2010

Call me a genreholic, but I can’t help myself when it comes to experimenting with other genres. Heck, I read all of ‘em. Why can’t I write in all of ‘em?

I think the main reason I dabble across genres is because I read quite a bit of nonfiction, particularly historical and religious in nature. And, I am a geek at heart, so science is pretty high on my list of reading too. Considering most of what I write falls under horror, mixing it with just about any other genre is pretty easy.

Now I’d like to stray a little off topic or just twist it a bit. A couple weeks ago I decided to enter The Courier in this year’s Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Colorado Gold Writer’s Contest–that was a tongue twister. It’ll be my first year at the conference, and I’m pretty excited about attending. But when I got my latest newsletter with entry information, I noticed the genre categories are mainstream, mystery, romance, action/thriller, and speculative fiction (spec-fic). Uh oh, I thought. My novel is lumped into speculative fiction, that infamous catchall category for all kinds of stuff.

Speculative fiction is an umbrella fiction genre generally encompassing the more specific genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history.             –Wikipedia

On a side note, I’m going to plead ignorance for a moment and say, I thought spec-fic was more of a “what if” category, related to history. What if Germany won WWII? What if The Cold War ended in thermal nuclear war. What if a major volcanic eruption occurs in Iceland? Oops that one’s actually happening. Then again, I suppose “what if” is such a loose question, it could be asked in regards any one of the genres listed.

Now back to the contest. One of the members of my critique group mentioned that tagging the genre for The Courier will be tricky. That made me pause. He mentioned that the judges don’t exactly read and judge well outside their chosen genres. For example, I’ve been classifying The Courier as fantasy, but a judge for that genre would likely throw my entry to the side, favoring traditional Tolkien style stories. Hmmm…

According to the contest, the categories listed for spec-fic are science fiction, fantasy and horror. So, I’ll have to submit to horror and hope my synopsis gets the story to the right judge.

This leads me to ask you all a question about your reading habits. How often do you stray from reading your favorite genres? Do you find yourself reading critically or giving up on a story that’s outside your preference?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2010 5:32 pm


    Well I can tell you what happens when a volcano erupts in Iceland! It cuts attendance at the London International Book Fair by half! And there was I hoping some nice, kind US Agent would notice my book, resplendent on its shelf on the New Titles Exhibit stand… and want to buy the rights! Where were they all? OK… c’est la vie, mon braves!

    And so, to your question (and I do like a good question)…

    I don’t have a genre (for reading) – I read anything that might interest me. In recent weeks I have read a sci-fi romance, a vampire short, and a (near dreadful) non-fiction book on pick-up tips for guys. But I like to think I read critically and can sort out what is good to say about a title, even though I might not like it myself. But it can be a challenge at times! 🙂

    • April 21, 2010 5:54 pm

      Too bad about the attendance at the book fair 😦

      How bad is the ash by you? I have a friend over there I talk to all the time, but bad me keeps forgetting to ask her if she can breath.

      • April 21, 2010 6:22 pm

        You can’t actually see it… I think the car might be a little dirtier that normal. We even have blue skies (perhaps it’s the lack of vapour trails because no aircraft have been flying) But, having worked on aircraft before, and for the European Air traffic authorities, I can understand a degree of caution! But that doesn’t help my book 😦

  2. April 21, 2010 7:45 pm

    These days, all I can read is mystery and suspense. Occasionally, I try to get out of my genre (YA or fantasy) but my short attention span doesn’t allow much. And, I do read critically, I think. Red pen and all!

    David, so sorry to hear about the dismal turnout. Get cracking on that sequel for next year.

    • April 22, 2010 8:41 am

      Speaking of reading critically… One of the things I love about the eReaders is that you can mark and make notes on novels. It’s easier (well, kinda easier) to go back and find your notes.

  3. April 25, 2010 7:33 pm

    Good luck in the contest! Great question too.

    I’ve read pretty much every genre there is – except for the heavy literary and Oprah type books. I always feel stupid when those don’t appeal to me, like somehow I’m not “getting” them.

    Favorites have been anything in UF lately (duh, right?)

  4. April 28, 2010 2:08 pm

    I read all kinds of speculative fiction: historical, sci fi, steampunk, graphic novel as well as fantasy. I enjoy the “what if…?” aspect you’ve mentioned. To expand my reading list, I joined a book club where I’ve become open to different genres I would not have looked into myself.


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