Friday, May 11, 2012

Writing a Book - word association

What's the first thing you think of when I say Fantasy? I thought of dragons. I love them!

Now, say you've written an awesome book and it's a fun romantic story. You query an agent and call it a contemporary romance. The agent sees the genre and ... what?

DO YOU THINK SOME AGENTS AUTOMATICALLY SLUSH A QUERY BASED ON THE GENRE?

I'm not saying all, but I bet when I send my Sci Fi Thriller, some agents/readers might auto-slush it, thinking, "I'm not looking for sci fi." But my book doesn't fall in the traditional sci fi, it's more of an adventure. I say it's like a combination of "Romancing the Stone" and "I, Robot" - a romantic comedy/adventure set in the future with laser teleportation! How do I put a genre on that? I know there are mixed genres and sub genres, but in the bookstore/online categories I'm guessing mine would go in sci fi, so that's where I pigeon hole it in the query. The same is true when people buy books - some people have a preconceived notion about genres and won't look in those sections.

So let's play a game...
Here are a few genres. You say the first thing that comes to mind. I will too. It'll be fun!

Romance
Literary
Women's
Fantasy
YA
Sci Fi
Horror
Commercial
Thriller
Chick Lit

Here are my associations:
Romance - kissy kissy mush
Literary - high brow
Women's - serious (or plus size)
Fantasy - dragons!
YA - melodramatic
Sci Fi - Space! (and being a writer, space opera)
Horror - blood and guts
Commercial - couldn't think of a genre
Thriller - exciting
Chick Lit - meaningless fun

Looking forward to your associations! What do you think? Do agents (and their pre readers) get so many queries these days that they skim to find the genre and toss away the story? And are there sections of the bookstore you don't bother looking in?

Thanks for playing and have a wonderful MOTHER'S DAY WEEKEND! May you not have to lift a finger at least this one day of the year!

20 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think space opera for science fiction as well. I think readers often skip books based on genre. They hear science fiction and think Asimov or high tech, and we don't all write that kind of science fiction.

Dana said...

For Romance, I always think of Fabio! LOL

E. Arroyo said...

Romance--Vampires
Literary--boring
Women's--midlife crisis
Fantasy-swords
YA--hot boys
Sci Fi--space
Horror--Stephen King
Commercial--Huh?
Thriller--Dean Koontz
Chick lit --crying

Wow...what does that mean? LOL

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Sorry, I froze. As soon as I read "the first thing that comes to mind," I went blank. I don't even want to know what that means. :)

I wouldn't think an agent/editor would toss it based on genre, especially if they state somewhere in their guidelines that they're looking for that sort of thing.

(By the way, I love the idea of a "Romancing the Stone" and "I, Robot" combo.) :)

Angela Cothran said...

I actually think I would classify your book as a thriller and not Sci-fi. Mostly because it is more about the thriller and only lightly touches on the science bit. Maybe that will help.

I'm not on facebook yet, I haven't had any time. But when I do I'll let you know :)

Heather M. Gardner said...

Angela has a good point.

Just because your story takes place in the future and the technology is different doesn't make it science fiction.

Perhaps a new term needs to be coined.

Futuristic Romance
Near future/romantic suspense

Heather

Heather M. Gardner said...

Happy Mother's Day!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Romance - supermodels, bodice rippers, girls who faint, guys who act tough, too much mush
Literary - snotty
Women's - drama
Fanatsy - adventure, quests!
YA - Fun to read
SciFi-Space, new frontiers
Horror - icky, scary
Commercial - um, sales
Thriller - edge of seat
Chick Lit - gossip girls

Not sure these associations really fit, but those are the first things that pop into my mind

Cassie Mae said...

Oh! I wanna play!

Romance: boobies
Literary: lot of words I have to look up in order to understand.
Women's: bigger boobies
Fantasy: lots of glitter
YA: where were these super hot guys in my high school?
Sci Fi: Space Invaders
Horror: Skinny blonde dying in the first chapter.
Commercial: BUY ME!
Thriller: Law and Order theme song.
Chick Lit: lots of squees and giggles.

Christine Rains said...

I think everyone makes general assumptions based on genre. Yet, these days, so many thread together.

Romance - mushy
Literary - dry read
Women's - issues
Fantasy - adventure/quest
YA - whiny teens
Sci Fi - aliens
Horror - monsters
Commercial - overly done
Thriller - crime stuff
Chick Lit - shallow women

Have a great Mother's Day! :)

Angela Brown said...

Now remember, you said for us to put the FIRST thing that comes to our minds. I mention that as my disclaimer lol!!!

Romance - Love me!
Literary - Who, What,Now?
Women's - "You told Harpo to beat me!"
Fantasy - Imagination set free
YA - Yeah!
Sci Fi - beep, bop, boop, beep.
Horror - "It's alive!!!!"
Commercial - pass through them
Thriller - Michael Jackson
Chick Lit - Talli Roland

As for your novel, it sounds like genre bender. I wonder if you can put that in for your description?

M Pax said...

I'm having this same issue with trying to 'categorize' the Hetty Locklear series. I've heard the best way is to start with audience. Margaret Atwood doesn't sell under sci-fi. I'm targeting women more with the next one. I think we need a new category.

Carrie Butler said...

Oh man. I shouldn't have read the comments first. My associations have been tainted! LOL

Have a great weekend, Tara!

C.M.Brown said...

Some of these comments are just great! I am smiling from ear to ear!

Annalisa Crawford said...

I thought very hard before labelling my novella as romance, even though I'm still not sure it is!

Here's what I think of:
Romance - chick lit
Literary - using a lot of words to describe opening a door
Women's - motherhood and family (ie. after the Chick Lit heroine has grown up a bit)
Fantasy - dragons
YA - vampires
Sci Fi - silver foil (ie how Star Trek presented it's aliens)
Horror - scary
Commercial - not likely to win a Booker
Thriller - thrilling lol
Chick Lit - romance

Trisha said...

I definitely think if you call your work SF, and send it to an agent who hasn't said they're looking for SF, they're not going to accept it. No matter what type of SF you've got there. I actually find it really hard to categorise the genres of my novels, sometimes. But I am coming to suspect that's because I don't understand my own novels well enough. hehe

michelle said...

Romance - mushy, Mills & Boon...
Literary - for the "discerning" reader?
Womens - (very broad)
Fantasy - swords, fairies, elves, goblins, dragons, adventure...
YA - huh?
Sci Fi - space related
Horror - blood & missing limbs...
Cpommercial - ???
Thriller - edge of seat rollercoaster ride with death-defying highs and lows...
Chick Lit - not sure (senseless giggling & rolling of eyeballs?)

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Lynda R Young said...

We definitely have preconceived ideas about certain genres. I reckon if you put the expanded description in your query (it's like a combination of "Romancing the Stone" and "I, Robot") then that alone should pique their interest. It certainly has me intrigued.

Tara Tyler said...

These are the greatest! I love the associations that popped up! Many of you guys thought I meant tv commercial - commercial fiction is a generalizing genre, meaning one of the major genres

Angela & Heather - thanks for the encouragement!

Trisha - I definitely research the agents and when I call it sci fi, I send it only to those who say they accept it. Same for when I call it thriller. So either my query isn't great or they are looking for something else...either way I'm not for them and that's fine - I keep trying!

Happy Mother's Day to you all too! Hope it was a pleasant experience!

Tara Tyler said...

and Lynda - thanks for your advice too =)