So what’s your sign?
Labels… so many labels that attempt to define who we are and what we do!
It seems that everything is classified according to some standard, pigeon-holed along with countless other folks that may or may not agree on most things. Yet it’s the way we begin to evaluate a new idea or thing of which we have no immediate knowledge. We compare things in order to begin to understand them. We always ask the question, “What’s it like?”
Arbitrary categories mean different things to different people and require even more sub-definitions to clarify our concepts. For instance, if I told you I was a fiction writer, what would you think?
I have just placed myself in a general category that basically says I make up my stories, but it doesn’t convey any sense of the types of stories I write nor does it indicate anything about my style. As far as you know, my work could be anything from crime mysteries to fairy tales, mythology to science fiction.
So now I say my work is fantasy-adventure, which narrows it somewhat, but it still encompasses a wide range of possibilities… still pretty near infinite, I’d say.
I could suggest that my work touches on science fiction and involves crime mysteries. But that tends to widen the field again.
How about if I say my genre is sci-fi-fantasy-mystery novels with a touch of humor? Sitting astraddle of a handful of these categories somehow makes me uncomfortable and really clouds the issue. Perhaps I would feel better just going back to the general fiction classification, but it wouldn’t serve well.
So how should I go about defining the type of writing I do? I could say I was inspired by such writers as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, E.R. Burroughs, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, O. Henry and others. But does that do anything to clarify it? Not really.
Maybe I could find another writer that produced work similar to mine and compare myself to them. But that would tend to dilute my image as a writer with a unique style. Hey! I blaze my own trails! I’m not a copycat and I refuse to try to model myself after anyone else’s style. Like most writers, I feel my work is unique. It doesn’t really fit wholly into any one category or classification, and I’ll be damned if I will try to make it do so.
So maybe I should invent a new genre? How about MysSciFiHumFant? Say it real fast and it sounds… well, silly. But am I all alone? How many writers have difficulty classifying their work? What if you write several specific kinds of fiction?
I not only write novels, but I have tried my hand at poetry, songs and short stories, all with different styles and I’m not sure you could classify any of them. I prefer to think of my genre as undefined and without limits. I’m a free-thinker and I want my writing to reflect that.
Too often my attempt at genre classification will turn some people off. They will say “I’m normally not a fan of sci-fi (or fantasy or mystery… whatever), but your book was really a fun read.”
So it seems that the best strategy might be to give ’em a little taste without telling them what it is. My mother (and my wife) have both tried this technique in order to get me to broaden my horizons and try new things. I must say it has worked on some occasions and I have indeed expanded my experiences for the better.
I’m suggesting here that whether you are Scorpio, Pisces or Sagittarius, you could actually step outside your assigned preferences and check out some of the unclassified literature being produced by some very talented writers. Genres be damned!
I hope to be interviewing some rogue authors in the near future to find out how they see themselves and what they are doing to promote their work.
As always, I invite comments and suggestions about the business of indie publishing and ways to help fledgling authors be seen and heard. What’s your genre? How do you classify your work ?
About Time Publishing
I have three books available at present. Check out the links at the very top of this page.