10 September 2010

On Genres

Yesterday I read on a blog a very excited comment to the effect that there was now a new genre, YYA (young-young adult, meaning middle school). Rather than get into a rant on the proliferation of "genres" and writers chasing after the latest fad, I just want to say a couple of words on genres and marketing categories.

Originally, the term genre meant novel, short story, poetry, theater, etc. All these genres were influenced by literary movements (classical, romantic, modernist, etc.) which in turn responded to the world at large and its problems and issues. Of course, words change in meaning with use. That's a feature of language. But at some point, overuse of a word for many different things robs it of any meaning.

In current fiction, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, adult, young adult, and so on, are marketing categories, that is, demographic groups the book selling business targets. The best literature appeals across these categories (Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, JK Rowling, etc.) Even marketers seem to understand that the over-proliferation of brands in a company begins to cannibalize their own products. If we let marketing drive what we write, we will mostly write trite books aimed at ever shrinking readerships. It is to everyone's benefit to cast a wider net. Write a novel, story, poem, or play (no labels on it) for your ideal reader or readers. At least, that's what I aim for.

Please visit my book's website at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html


  1. Young young adult? Hmmm. I always just thought that was called middle grade fiction. I do know that young adult is often too mature for my middle school students (grades 6-8), but this is the first I've heard about YYA.

  2. Me too. I was just as surprised as you are. It's an example of our terminology getting away from us. Thanks for commenting!

  3. You commented on my blog a while ago, it was regarding Christian fiction turning to the dark side. I was going to stop by here to say I've written a review of a book that is a Christian-based vampire tale and you may be interested.
    After reading you last two posts, I think I may need to stop by more often.
    First, I have children in the YYA niche and have a hard time finding the right books that interest them. Second, I really enjoy your viewpoint about reaching broader markets. What age group is Angela written for?

  4. I left a comment on your blog, but I'll also repeat the essence here. Angela 1 should be easily understandable to middle schoolers who are used to reading and it is certainly appropriate for them. I have readers from middle school all the way through adults of all ages. Even the adults really like it. Thanks for your interest!

  5. Hi David. Thanks for commenting on my blog. Love the idea of your book, think it is definitely a story that will resonate with teens - unfortunately it's an issue that's all too common these days. Luckily, I also work in education and a lot of my students turn up as twisted fictional versions of themselves in my stories, so I am never really stuck for character or story ideas. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on your work! Debbie. :)

  6. Same here! I especially like to use people I run across who seem interesting, but whom I don't really know. Then I can invent a personality and life story for them. As you say, never at a loss. Thanks for commenting!