Did You Choose Your Genre or Did It Choose You?

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That’s a good question.

Genre is a tricky thing. There are widely known and accepted genres like Westerns! and Romance. There are even widely known subgenres like Western Romance! And that’s all well and good for people that write in those genres.

I don’t. I write in some weird hybrid genre that I have never successfully been able to define. The closest I’ve ever come to describing it is “Humrous SciFi with a cat in it.” Even though the science is more pseudo-science and there’s little fantasy save for the fact that one of the main characters is a 32 pound (mostly) Main Coon cat named Toesy. But he delights me to no end so I’m sticking with him for meow now.

I highly doubt my consciousness had any executive control over genre when I sat down to write my first book. I remember choosing to set it in Seattle (because that’s where I know) and that’s about where all my thoughtful input ended. Everything else stemmed from conversations I had in my head. Because that’s where the writing process happens for me.

I talk to everything. That may or may not surprise you, depending on how much time you and I have spent in respective company but it’s true all the same. Bugs, trees, myself, the dog, I have a thousand conversations a day. So when I’m writing a scene and a cat wanders into it and starts talking about murdering stuff, I don’t think that’s abnormal. Why would it be? I talk to my real cat all the time. Granted, our conversations are mostly about canned food or ear scratches but, we do talk.

German Sherpard, GSD, #GSDlove, Frisbee

This guy is much less subtle. Although he enjoys talking about cat food as well.

Talking with my characters lets me get into their heads. I see their desires and prejudices. I discover their motivations. I could put all that together myself by writing everything down and meticulously tracking all their character traits but honestly, a simple conversation will reveal more and requires much less work. I take notes, for sure, but it’s more like dictation than character building.

So no, I can say with confidence that I am definitely not in the driver’s seat here. I write what entertains me and the genre in which I write is based in what I find entertaining. Who knows what I’ll find entertaining? If a giant purple gorilla were to walk into my next scene and start singing the National Anthem in sign language, I’ll listen to his story.

If it makes me laugh, I may even use it.

 

Wonder how the other people do it? Check out these posts by Michael G. Munz and Camela Thompson for their answers to the genre problem.

 

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