Identifying My Genre

It’s my birthday today, so what better way to spend it then writing? After dropping the kids off at their schools, I went out and wrote. After I came home, I ate some lunch while watching a show and now I get to write some more! Nothing else I could have asked for. šŸ™‚

I haven’t talked a ton about my writing with others. At first, I didn’t say anything because I was nervous that by talking about it, the story wouldn’t come out. That’s happened to me before where I told my wife an idea I had and then almost immediately after the story died on the vine. For this book, I definitely didn’t want that to happen, so I didn’t even say anything until I had begun writing AND I even had a sense (vague as it might have been) of what was going to happen over the course of the book. But for a long time, aside from my wife I wasn’t saying much of anything to anyone else.

Now, however, I’m actually willing to talk more about it. I’m close to the 60k mark in terms of words and based on my general, mental outline of the plot, I’m probably about 60% done with the first draft. And because I get asked sometime, “What are you writing?” I feel like it’s time to come up with an answer.

I feel like when most people ask someone about a book they’re writing, they are really asking about the genre. Unfortunately, even though that’s the first question people ask, it’s also the question I have the hardest time with. Here’s what I’ve come down with for my book:

  • YA — Mine is most definitely a YA book. When I first came up with the idea last summer, I knew right away that it was targeting a YA audience. The main characters are all high schoolers (9th graders to be precise), and while other (much bigger) stuff is going on, adolescent emotions, concerns, and thought processes are definitely on display here.
  • Speculative Fiction — I hadn’t even heard of this until I was listening to an episode of the Reading Glasses Podcast (if you haven’t heard it before, I HIGHLY recommend it) and it was the topic of the episode. Speculative Fiction covers a whole bunch of other genres including sci-fi and fantasy, and generally answers a “What if?”-style question. This book is definitely doing that.
  • Low-fantasy? — This is where things go a little bit off the rails. There’s a bit “magical” elements in my book, but it definitely takes place in a world like ours (not our world because of the magic, but everything else is the same). Even though I know that low-fantasy is the typical classifier of this type of book, I’ve got to say that I don’t like that as a name for a genre. The “low” part just feels too pejorative. Especially when talking to non-writers.
  • Apocalyptic-ish — In my mind, this book is the first part of a series (I know, YA fantasy series? Never heard of such a thing…), and while this book is not “post-apocalyptic,” that’s where things are going. Can something be “pre-apocalyptic” or “peri-apocalyptic”?
  • Tangentially religious — It’s definitely not a religious book, but as a Comparative Religion major in College, I recognize certain elements that have some religious analogies, and I’m not shying away from it. 

In the end, I know I can say it’s a YA book and I can even say it’s speculative fiction. I think the other descriptors are too wishy-washy or vague, so those are out when I’m talking to the typical questioner. 

Do other writers have a hard time pinpointing their genre? Let me know what you think. Have a great day!

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