Chuck Wendig gives us a very smart piece about the limitations of genre and why we writers need to break out of these little boxes.
Genre is comfort, after all. You know what you’re writing. You know what you’re reading.
Comfort in codification. But fiction often works best when there exists some measure of discomfort.
Oh my goodness! Chuck Wendig is one of My People!
I basically, pretty much agree with Wendig. If you’ve been following my Sunday Storytimes, you may have noticed that I’m a genre-bending author. I pretty much just write whatever story comes to mind, and will eventually figure out how to categorize it. Charlinder’s Walk is literary fiction, post-apocalyptic setting, coming-of-age story. There are fantasy elements; in the spirit of Wendig’s call for “more granularity,” I will specify: skeptical fantasy. I assure you, the contradiction will resolve itself when you see the fantasy elements. User Assembly is Required is women’s fiction; I’m not quite sure where the line is between “women’s fiction” and “chick lit,” but I think the reader would experience it more on the “women’s fiction” side of the line. Fait Accompli is dystopian, but NOT post-apocalyptic, and one of the issues I have with our genre classification is that too many people use “dystopian” to include ALL post-apocalyptic fiction, and this is a mistake. Book 4 is urban fantasy for an adult audience.
I think that genre is useful to the extent that it helps readers know what to expect when they pick out a book. To the extent that authors are expected to write to the genre, rather than just tell the story that presents itself, genre is an inhibitor of creativity and we must rise above it.
I would like to say more about genre categories, and let there be no doubt, I have no shortage of opinions on this, but actually, I have WIPs that demand my attention. Time must be made for writing the books.