Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Blog Conversation About “Genre” Writing . . .

Our last conversation was about “serious writing”, on May 2nd, 7th, and 9th… Genre Writing

It ended because the last post had no comments…

So, here I go again, starting up a new conversation :-)

I’ll begin with the word history of “Genre”:

1770, “particular style of art,” a French word in English (nativized from c. 1840), from French genre “kind, sort, style” (see gender (n.)). Used especially in French for “independent style.” In painting, as an adjective, “depicting scenes of ordinary life” (a domestic interior or village scene, as compared to landscapehistorical, etc.) from 1849.

If you did a Google Search on “Genre”, you’d have a merry time trying to sort out all the opinions…

Sure, authors often stay within certain well-established genres; like Murder Mystery, Police Procedural, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Alternative History, etc., etc., etc….

Still, my favorite fiction writer, C. J. Cherryh, usually wrote in either Sci-fi or Fantasy (though, she ably warped them at will…); plus she has a series, the Morgaine Cycle, that is both Fantasy and Sci-Fi…

So what is this slippery “quality” of fiction that has well-walled-off communities of writers and readers, as well as many examples of strange and wonderful hybrids of all types; and, certainly, some works that can’t be corralled into any specific category…

Being the kind of writer I am, I can easily go out on a literary limb and say: One could consider each author’s unique style their own particular “Niche” in the book world…

Oh, my, now I have to show you the word history for Niche:

1610s, “shallow recess in a wall,” from French niche “recess (for a dog), kennel” (14c.), perhaps from Italian nicchia “niche, nook,” from nicchio “seashell,” said by Klein and Barnhart to be probably from Latin mitulus “mussel,” but the change of -m- to -n- is not explained. Watkins suggests that the word is from an Old French noun derived from nichier “to nestle, nest, build a nest,” via Gallo-Roman *nidicare from Latin nidus “nest” (see nidus), but that has difficulties, too. Figurative sense is first recorded 1725. Biological use dates from 1927.

So, following my maverick logic, we could consider:

…the author’s “nook” of “style” for their writing; or, the “nest” of their “kind” of writing; or, their particular “sort” of “recess” in which their writing happens…

Too strange to consider…? Or, fruitful of thought…?

What are your thoughts and feelings about “Genre”…?

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14 responses to “Blog Conversation About “Genre” Writing . . .

  1. Jane Watson May 15, 2018 at 8:05 am

    I think ‘genre’ is a term fostered in modern times by publishers who found it easier to market their books to readers by putting them into recognisable categories. This way the publishers can develop a marketing approach for a wide number of folks who are placed in one huge niche. But if an author has their own individual niche and if there are too many of these individual niches the publisher will have to promote each one of these separately in a more individual way…the publishers often imagine that readers want to be told which blanket ’niche’ a book fits into – not that the book is unique and different and exciting in a new and indescribable way, that sounds unmarketable, because they don’t know how to present it. But which book, as a reader, would you go for?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alexander M Zoltai May 15, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    So very true, Jane…

    I believe, and will say more in my next post in this conversation, how self-publishing is beginning to mend that fault of the traditional houses, as well as how the genre-trap sucks in some damn fine writers and smothers their authentic creativity…

    Thanks for keeping the conversation going! :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Adam May 15, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Genre is definitely a funny thing.
    I myself find that I prefer stories that, at first glance, feel very different from the world I live in.
    Whether it’s fantasy, scifi, suspense/horror, or comedy/romance, I prefer stories that take me to far away places.
    And yet, underneath those cosmetic differences, the characters struggle with the same issues, and often come to the same conclusions.
    I think there’s a way in which genre is often what initially draws us to and keeps us reading or watching a story, but whether we are satisfied afterwards speaks to the underlying patterns that are common to all stories.
    I’m of the opinion that any strong story could be adapted to any genre, if you understand that underlying pattern of character identities, primary conflicts, and universal meaning(s).
    The classic, to me, is how many of Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted to countless frames; ranging from high school to outer space.

    I think a lot of it is in response to how many stories are out there, and audience’s need to quickly and easily narrow down the range of possibilties.
    My unconscious wants to see two characters clash in a brilliant display of swordsmanship, while my conscious mind wants to find complex meaning in that simple sword fight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Adam May 15, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    I’ve definitely heard some authors discuss how they have to choose whether they want to thoroughly play to the horror genre or the “slice of life” “everyday relationship” genre. There’s that way in which artists first have to win the trust of the fans with conventional storytelling, and then, once they have a name, they can, if they feel comfortable taking a risk, step out of their prior patterns and try something new.


  5. Alexander M Zoltai May 15, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks, Adam, for your two comments—I’ll be including them both in my next post tomorrow :-)


  6. juliecroundblog May 16, 2018 at 3:54 am

    I always have to put ‘General’ for my novels as they contain romance, crime, elements of a thriller, humour, and read like mini-sagas. The nearest explanation I have had from reviewers is that they read like ‘soaps.’ What genre would you call that?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. courseofmirrors May 16, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Best expression I’ve found for my first novel is mythopoetic. The adventurous story unfolds as an odyssey, containing universal conflicts every reader can relate to, but mythopoetic is not a recognized genre. I had to use ‘fantasy’ as the nearest fitting genre, though the story evolved from deep roots of the imagination. Fantasy and imagination are not the same thing. Ib’n Arabi pointed this out centuries ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Alexander M Zoltai May 16, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Julie, if I had to call it a “Genre”, I’d call it YOU :-)


  9. Alexander M Zoltai May 16, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Thank you for your comment, Ashen—what if you just used N/A for the genre :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: More Conversation About “Genre” . . . | Notes from An Alien

  11. Barbara Blackcinder May 19, 2018 at 9:34 am

    The Rainbow

    Always impressive, the rainbow’s view
    Its shades spread across the spectrum
    Colors blending from one to the other
    Each band’s width wider to some

    But no one can say where one band begins
    And the next color has altered its hue
    For changes in the view of a spectrum
    Is altered how it’s perceived by you

    Barbara Blackcinder

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Alexander M Zoltai May 19, 2018 at 9:36 am

    How lovely, Barbara!

    Thank you for gracing the comments with your poem………


  13. Pingback: Yet More Conversation about Genre . . . | Notes from An Alien

  14. Pingback: A Blog Conversation about Book Promotion . . . | Notes from An Alien

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