Boxing Your Genre

I’m not HUGE on labels in life. But I understand their importance in the consumer world. And in the commercial world of artistry, proper classification is essential. With writing, you need a clear-cut genre. It’s probably best if you go into a project with your genre in mind, but I’m sure many a passionate writer stumbles across it the way I did with Chaos (un)Controlled. I had no idea where I was going with it, how it would end, what revelations the characters would reveal. The story quite literally unfolded in front of me as I wrote it, so that even I was surprised at the final outcome. The open-ness of my mind had full and free reign. And then, with a finished product, I realized I needed a category.

UGH.

Most that I shared the story with immediately pegged it as Sci-Fi.

Sci-fi? Do I even LIKE Sci-fi? Well…I did love Inception, and Ready Player One remains on my Holy Grail list. But how could I have written one without intending to? I considered my story more of a Fantasy concept, but a little more research made me skeptical on that one too, because there’s no centaurs or orcs or unicorns. But, there are parallel dimensions blended with realism, and elemental power synonymous with magical elements. I discovered a blended genre called “Science-Fantasy” which seemed to be a closer fit. But only a couple of days ago I stumbled across a review on Amazon where someone was initially put off by a book because it was listed as BOTH Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I can only imagine this is because maybe Sci-Fi purists prefer their HARDCORE Sci-Fi. I had Amazon relist Chaos (un)Controlled under the Sci-Fi–>Fantasy–>Contemporary sub-category, because they’d stuck it in Urban/Paranormal, and I was wondering why Twitter promoters kept using the hashtag #PARANORMAL (why does Amazon classify those two together anyway?). Contemporary definitely defines much of the story, but maybe not enough for it to be the main standalone genre? And then there’s the YA aspect…

So what happens when you have a Black teenage girl crossing dimensions from New York City to library-worlds-in-the-sky and desert wastelands with prejudicial climates, questioning higher power and struggling to wield elemental magic?

For marketing purposes, I settled with YA Science Fantasy. Because ultimately, I consider it a mix of both, and you can’t please everyone.

But no trailblazer blazed a trail by adhering to current standards. So perhaps it was good that the boxing left me conflicted.

~Tael

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