Monday, December 4, 2017

Exploring Genre 2017

by Jeanette O'Hagan



This year, the cross posts between Christian Writers Downunder and Australasian Christian Writers are focusing on genre. I've found it an interesting series and some more in depth look at different sub-genres in more depth. So just to recap -

Why Genre?


Iola Goulton started off the year asking the question - why genre?  She reminded us that genre's are useful for managing reader expectations and in helping to target promotion and marketing.

Then over the next several months we've looked at specific subgenres - or some broader categories - in fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Fiction


Fiction has a number of broad categories such as romance, speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy), crime and detective fiction, historical dramas, thrillers, military, women's fiction and literary - among others.  Fiction can also be aimed at children (picture books, chapter books, middle-grade), young adult (teens), new adults (teen-early twenties) or adults.

Romance




While romance can often be a subplot or theme in a range of other genres, in category romance the focus is on the relationship and the obstacles to a romantic relationship between the hero and heroine or romantic couple.  Category romance is hugely popular and generally has some firm expectations. It can also range from sweet to steamy (or blend into erotica, which is really another category).

There are a wide range of sub-genres with romance.

Carolyn Miller introduced us to historical romance (romance set before the present day) and in particular regency romance - romance inspired by Jane Austen and set in or around the regency period - eg. early 19th century.  You can find her delightful post here.

Nicky Edwards took us on a tour of rural romance (set in the country) and medical romance (with nurses or doctors as protagonists and which includes medical drama), usually set in contemporary times. You can read more here.

Speculative Fiction




Speculative Fiction images a different reality - whether that be a variation of earth as we know it or different world altogether. It is generally divided into Science Fiction (where science or a imagined science explains the world) or Fantasy (in which a non-scientific - often super-natural - explanation is given), though these can cross-overs such as science fantasy and mixtures. There is easily over 100 sub-genres within this field - including crazy mash-ups like gaslamp fantasy or weird west.

Adam Collings  introduced us to Space Opera - epic Science Fiction set in space with a focus more on the story than a detailed or hard science - think Star Trek or Doctor Who.  And, also the Superhero sub-genre which can used a scientific (Superman) or a supernatural (eg Thor) explanation for the special powers.  Read more here.

Jeanette O'Hagan introduced Secondary World and Portal fantasy - both of which are set on an alternative (non-earth) world. In the first the world exists without reference to earth, whereas in the second, the protagonist travels through a door or portal to the other world. Read more here.

Ian Acheson introduced us to Supernatural Fiction - which focuses on supernatural beings such angels, demons and/or ghosts (and is related to paranormal and urban fantasy). It can have a faith or Christina focus or be more 'secular' in its approach. Read more here.

Shorts


We also looked at 'short fiction' from flash to novellas (though it could also be non-fiction). Read more here.

Poetry




Poetry can be non-fiction or fiction, it can be strongly narrative (ballads, for instance) or focus on a moment or a feeling or be metaphorical.

Valerie Volk gave a wonderful introduction to Poetry (here)  while the following week we explored Free Verse (poetry without a set rhyme) and Verse Novels (telling a narrative in verse)  (read more here).

Non-Fiction


And finally, Nola Passmore introduced us to creative non-fiction (and how that differs from reportage). Read more here.


It can be tempting to see genre as a straitjacket or a way of pigeon-holing our fiction.  It can be seen as restrictive or reducing writing to formula (the HEA, the red herrings and clues, etc).  Some genres have stricter guidelines  - the category romance, the cozy mystery - while others almost by their nature tend to push the boundaries  or like cross-overs with a meld of different genres (speculative fiction, Young Adult).

Writing within a genre still allows amazing variety and ingenuity, especially when there are so many.

ACW & CWD are thinking of extending this dip into genres and subgenres next year. With that in mind,

Have  your found the series helpful? How?
What did you learn (if anything)?
And are there any particular genres you'd love to find more about?

List of posts (chronological order)

Genre  
Creative Non-Fiction



Spaceship image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Cover Image Valerie Volk In Due Season
Other images copyright Jeanette O'Hagan

...............


Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users. She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children. Find her on Facebook or at her webpages Jeanette O'Hagan Writes or Jenny's Thread.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for that overview, Jenny. It's great to see them all in one list for easy reference. They were all interesting, and it was good to learn more about the sub-categories within those genres. Most of those sub-genres could probably have a post on their own. Thanks for putting it all together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Nola. Yes, it would be easy to write on each of the sub-genres in greater depth. And there sre so many, many more we haven't even touched on yet.

      Delete
  2. Thanks Jenny. That was beautifully wrapped up. Yes, I did find it helpful and it tempted me to try writing in some of the genres mentioned! :) Who knows but I might try something new in 2018! You've done a great job of presenting it all in the one piece so many thanks! It's pretty helpful. It will be worth re-reading some of the earlier blogs as well to get a fresh perspective on it all! Many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great, Anusha. Glad it has been helpful. And yes, do try something new. It's fun 😊👍 and can help with our other writing too.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for this wrap-up, Jenny, which also shows how fast the year has passed :) I've really enjoyed the genre series and do look forward to more, as there is so much more to delve into. But what a great selection to start off with. Thanks for all the different authors for sharing your expertise too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Paula :) And Yes, we've had a great line-up of writers in the different genre/category areas to share their knowledge and experience.

      Delete