March 11, 2010 | By: Tracy

Genre Roulette

Just when I thought I could take a deep sigh of relief that (thanks to even more research & great advice) the query letter has become less confusing to me, I run into another issue - what the heck is my genre?
I seriously thought I had it all figured out - otherwise I would never have sent out four queries already - but then (as if they plan it this way on purpose) several of the agent blogs I follow starting talking about how to properly classify your genre. This is where my trouble began.
As with a lot of current fiction, there is a blending of genre's that happens quite often. For example : urban fantasy was created, because so many fantasy writers decided they liked putting their creatures in the "real world". Erotica came along, because there were readers who wanted more of the gritty stuff and less of the will they - won't they of traditional romance, etc.
The problem for new writers (those of us still trying to land their first agent & publish their first novels), agents want you to be real clear on what genre you see your book fitting into. Many specialize in a couple particular ones and want to make sure they aren't wasting their time reading your work if it isn't what they represent - which is understandable. Only, what are you supposed to do if you aren't one hundred percent sure anymore?
This whole time, I thought I was pretty safe in labeling my story as a paranormal romance.
Yes, part of it does take place in Tudor England, but it's more about seeing how much time has passed since the characters were mortal (not vampires by the way, in case you were wondering), so there isn't enough focus on the time period to make it historical. There are some tense moments where everything the main character cherishes is on the line, but not hardly enough to label it as suspense. And while parts of the story do take place in a modern day setting, there really isn't enough to label it urban fantasy.
But here's what it does have. Two characters who start out human and become immortal, they are madly in love with one another, and outside factors keep trying to rip them apart from one another. So I thought ... paranormal romance it is. Except, just last night, I read that in order to be considered romance it must end with a "Happily Ever After" sort of closing.
Son of a *****! My story ends with the possibility for happiness, but there is also the chance for uncertainty. So now I don't really know what to do. I guess I could always change the end of the story and make it more "happily ever after", but that would make me feel kind of cheap (not terribly, only 'kind of') . . . but if I don't change it, then what would I call it?
Anyone run into this problem themselves or have any suggestions on what I should call it? (I thought about cheating and still calling it paranormal romance, but I'd hate to be rejected by an agent when they got to the end of the synopsis and didn't see the "Happily Ever After")

2 witty remarks:

Stephen Prosapio said...

I love "The Stand" and followed your answer from NBs blog and really like the entries I've read.

First, congrats at getting your novel done? It sounds like it. Second, kudos to you for even knowing how important genre plays a part...if your writing is really great, an agent will likely be more open than publishers are these days...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

My experienced but almost jaded advice is this:
you've got the best shot at getting agent/published with paranormal romance. It's smoking hot right now. Do you stay true to your story, or in one of your mental "deleted scene" endings could a really happy ending happen? If so....if at all so, go that route.

If not...then if you've got a female protag, go with urban fantasy. That's hot too and doesn't require the requisite happy ending.

Historical romance is out I wouldn't pursue that unless there was no paranormal element in it.

Once you've decided what way you're going....give your MS one last read and tweak it here and there to make it more of "that" and then go full force ahead. Do you know about "Evil Editor"? Google it. Great site for sharing your query and getting great feedback advice.


Tracy said...

Thanks for the advice, Stephen.

Truthfully, after I finished reading "Pride & Prejudice" it struck me, that if I were reading my story as a reader - not the creator - I'd want the happiest ending possible for these two characters. I have decided to tweak the ending. It already ended on a hopeful note, so there isn't too much changing to make it the decidedly happy ending that a paranormal romance would require. And I'm going to take the advice to go back again and tweak a couple more scenes and chapters, where they straddle the genres to steer them a little more in the direction I want the general feel of the book to go.

Thanks for the suggestion on the Evil Editor, I'll definitely have to check it out.

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