Did your genre surprise you?

The book in my head, which is slowly making its way onto (virtual) paper, surprised me immensely.

I had always wanted to write teen fiction, that much I knew, but I did not know what I would be writing.

Then one day, a small paragraph of dialogue came into my mind. It had no context, no sense even, but it was there. Then the next morning, I awoke with a story.

It was a wonderful feeling, to have such inspiration, and I have been sitting on the story ever since, letting it simmer and boil under the surface while I get on with my life.

Now, roughly 4 years on, I have started writing. Slowly, very tentatively, but writing nonetheless. What continues to surprise me, however, is the genre. My story, which burst out of nothing and has held fast with me, would probably be classified as science fiction.

I have barely even read science fiction over the years. I think genres are funny though. Whilst my book will be science fiction in its premise, the story and the theme are more coming of age / reconciling family as a part of your sense of self / inheriting problems / sacrifice. None of these things are strictly ‘genres’ and absolutely none of them are indicated by the genre I know my book will fall into. But these themes are critical to whether a reader will like the story or not.

I have decided, at this early stage, not to worry about whether future readers will be lured in by a science fiction premise, and then disappointed that it is merely a vehicle for the more usual themes of teen fiction. But at some point I am going to have to think about it. Not only am I completely surprised by the genre I have fallen into, but I also will eventually have to delicately tread around the expectations of that genre…yet not so delicately as to compromise the story I want to tell. It’s exhausting to think about really and will have to stay in the back of my mind for now.

Where you surprised by your genre?

In what ways does your genre either free or restrict you?


7 thoughts on “Did your genre surprise you?

  1. My genre (though I rather hate the ideas of genres in general) chose me from an early age. I’ll use the term “speculative fiction” for something that encompasses sci-fi, fantasy, and the like. Speculative fiction opens up so many possibilities that writers sometimes lose their way in the vastness. One has to make one’s own framework and stick to it.
    While the writing of speculative fiction offers a lot of freedom, it seems to restrict the audience. That is becoming less so, but a lot of people still seem turned off by the “lack of reality.” Personally, I think speculative fiction lends itself as much to reality, in terms of human experience, as any other form.
    That’s my jumble of thoughts. Thank you for getting my brain working this morning, and good luck in your writing!

    • In my limited experience with speculative fiction, I have enjoyed it. In fact my own ‘genre’ may sit on the grey line between science fiction and speculative fiction. But I think, like you said, you have to make your own framework and stick with it. If it restricts your audience a bit, so what? It’s better to write what works for you, than to bend your style or story drastically to broaden your audience. Thanks so much for responding!

  2. Great topic! I’ve always wanted to write a YA fantasy novel filled with adventure and wonder but whenever I sit down to write, it’s always romance :(.

    • Wow, I think I would be terrible at romance haha. Maybe you could take one of your already written romances, and tear it apart and rehash into a YA fantasy? With all the romance already written, you can tread uncharted waters without drifting back into romance….

  3. I knew I wanted to write for a YA audience, and I was pleasantly surprised at the category my first novel fell into. I originally set out to write a fantasy/spec-fic vampire/angel novel. I wanted to incorporate both these supernatural beings into one story, because at the time I hadn’t read many books that had done so. I ended up with a paranormal romance, and I love how it evolved on its own over time. I have a few WIPs as well that all fall into different genres within the YA category, and I love them all. I think when I sit down to write, it’s not about what category I think it will fit into, it’s about what I want the story to be, and what it becomes as I write.

    • Thanks for stopping by! I very much agree that it’s best to write the story you want to tell, and find out any genre or theme emerges as you go. Surprises may even happen! 🙂

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