Monday, April 11, 2011

Genre:Does Cold Cereal belong in the Candy Phylum?

Lately deciding on how to label the genre of my novel has been taking up an unnatural amount of my brain's hard drive free space. I think I need to defrag or something now. Does it fall in mainstream fiction or commercial fiction? Ha ha I wish I could say it fell into literary fiction but it's too cottony and candy-y.

So since my protagonist is 24, it won't fit into YA (young adult) fiction, even though it is a kind of a coming of age story. I got that much. Parameters as far as I can gather from combing the Internet and agents' sites and know-it-all-experts' advice books require the main character of a YA novel to be no older than 17, and preferably 16.

So it's definitely not middle grade even though when I read the prologue to the 5th graders a few months ago they ate it up. Middle grade novels star kids age 11. Or else!

Then there's women's fiction. Even though this could be termed a love story (the main character gets the girl at the end) and I would like to believe women will really find the hero of the story appealing, in spite of his flaws. But it's not technically a romance, even though the protagonist's main need is to overcome his loneliness. It doesn't fit the template of what's required for a romance. For one, the main character is male, not female. And since it doesn't star a 28+ single woman with a careeeeeer and eschewing marriage but secretly pining for love, it sure ain't chick lit.

So, do I try to market it as sports fiction? The whole story is about a fish-out-of-water, an unexpected foray into a new sport. It doesn't cover one of the big favorite sports of basketball or football, or even NASCAR, so maybe that won't work. Did you know there's a NASCAR sub-genre in Harlequin romance? I heard that last summer and I think my head is still trying to wrap itself around that fact.

Sometimes I think I should rework my story to fit neatly and squarely into one of these categories. But I wanted to tell the story of this particular character at this particular point of his life. To do that, I need to tell THIS story. I realize that the only reason I would need to alter it is if I decide to try to market it, which I guess I will, just to force myself to DO HARD THINGS. However, I am not going to weep failure tears if no publisher picks it up. I realize the story idea is a stretch. I know it doesn't fit neatly into a genre. I'm okay with that. I like the story, and I'm sticking to it.

For now.

And I WISH with all my HEART that I had a door on my hall closet. That it didn't gape open, with all those cereal boxes calling to me every single time I pass them, begging me to reach in, to get just a little handful of strawberry frosted mini-wheats or a few of those Raisin Bran Crunch flakes. Man, those are good. So good in fact, I kind of find myself thinking they (like the NASCAR Harlequin) should be a subgenre of candy. The mini-wheats and raisin brans could be the health-nut cousins of candy. Lucky Charms and Froot Loops could be more closely related. Apple Jacks have sugar listed as their first ingredient. Mmm. I love when those loopy rings have an obscured center, caked over with delicious dried, appley frosting.

Kingdom, phylum, class, family, whatever. All that sugar tastes really good when combined with wheat or oats or rice or corn flour. I'll take a big handful again when I pass by.

I think I might have blogged this opinion in an earlier post. Oh, well. My kids tell me all the time I'm repeating myself. So why not in cyberspace, too?

Now, pass the Berry Kix.


  1. you do NOT need a woman MC for women's fic. In fact, there are a lot of agents looking for women's fic that is a male POV. Also, women's fic covers a HUGE range of stuff from contemporary, literature and commercial fic.
    If you didn't want to use women's fic, you could go with commercial?
    Good luck.
    I like to write 18 and 19 year olds, it's also a hard category. There's a new category coming out that's known as New Adult, but I don't know how widely that's spread or if it's really caught on yet, or ever will.
    Wow. That was a long-winded comment.
    Found you through ANWA.

  2. Thanks, Jolene! Good point. I was generalizing (as many genres do.) I, too, read about New Adult, just last week, in fact. I can't see that it's going anywhere just now. From what I can tell it was just a blip at St. Martin's Press in late 2009 and now it's not. Bummer. Thanks for the "commercial" suggestion. That's probably where it will end up! That's probably a good thing. ??? Glad you found me thru ANWA. We might even already be Goodreads friends. Are we?

  3. Eating Frosted Flakes while reading your blog. Seriously. Not even planned. Great minds think alike. :) And I love that your hero isn't a marriage eschewing woman focused on her career. :) Looking forward to reading it—I don't care what genre. :)

  4. It can definitely make one's head spin...the sweet cereals and the genre question.

  5. I go for Life cereal and Lilacs. And by the way, I think you're over-thinking the whole pigeonhole thing. I think you should publish it!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.