Monday, November 5, 2012

What's the Genre?

What genre do you write?

I'm guessing you've heard that question more than a few times. Is there clear cut definition for the genre you prefer? If so, you're blessed. ; )

Of the three genres I write--one is very clear cut (devotional), one has several sub-categories (Science Fiction), and one is all over the place (women's fiction).

It's the definitions of Women's Fiction that give me a headache. Many start with, "written by women for women readers." Do you know of any genres that are defined as "written by men for men readers?" This definition frustrates a lot of women's fiction writers.

One of the best places to get a feel for this is at Amy Sue Nathan's Women's Fiction Writers. Juliette Fay has a great take on this problems in her interview at Women's Fiction Writers. Juliette's latest book, THE SHORTEST WAY HOME has a man as the main character and is still classified as women's fiction.
"But maybe there’s a different question you’re asking: how does the gender of the writer affect the way a book is labeled, regardless of the gender of the main character. If that’s what your wondering, and if I’m being completely honest … I think that if someone in possession of a set of testicles had written this book, it would be called general fiction. After all, it’s not just about a man—it’s about a single man with no children. But since it’s ultimately a family drama, and I have ovaries, it’s called women’s fiction."

Her definition of the genre is "I think of women’s fiction as family drama, and I wish they’d use that label instead. But the women’s fiction label doesn’t really bother me, because a rose is a rose. Happily, there are a lot of people who want to read family drama/women’s fiction—and, hey, I’m here to help."

One of the issues with a gender based definition of a genre is the assumptions that books in the genre won't seriously written or about deep topics. That's a shame. I've read a lot women's fiction that deal with abuse, family disruption, life-threatening illness, and relationships among family members, both male and female.

What's you opinion on genre definitions that take into account the gender of the writer? Is is fair?