Choosing a Genre and Sticking to It
by C.K. Thomas
I think some authors might agree that it’s hard to set limits when classifying our work. I’ve finally settled on Women’s Contemporary Fiction as the genre for The Arrowstar Series. However, the series’ book covers scream Western. Also, if someone asks if Arrowstar is a mystery, I tell them an element of mystery does exist, intertwined with tales about the adventurous contemporary women who people the pages.
Categories seem important in the world of publishing, but as authors do we need to limit ourselves to the narrow categories that guide our books onto bookshelves to be stocked with similar classifications? Maybe we’re asking ourselves the wrong question when trying to place our writing into a genre. Is the real question, “What genre are my books?” or is it “Who makes up the largest audience for my books?” In other words, “To whom am I addressing the prose I’m creating?”
For me, the answer to that question is undeniably, women. According to the website Find Me an Author, “Women’s fiction taps into the hopes, fears, dreams and even secret fantasies of women today.” Exactly! That’s precisely what I’m going for with my writing!
I’m fairly confident I’ve chosen the right genre, but I’m still sad about limiting my audience. After all, there are men out there who I’m sure would enjoy the books. Also, what about mystery lovers and fans of the Old West? Realistically, I know I’m not going to draw those audiences because they’re not in my head while I’m writing.
While I’m probably not going to create another Riders of the Purple Sage, the Western question still nags at me because the companion books in the series do reach back into the history of the West. However, the plot lines don’t remain in the past, but put a foot into the present with the introduction of themes that show how the past sometimes intrudes into the present day.
As I’ve been writing this blog post, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have chosen the right genre, and I’m planning on sticking to it. I hope this reflective journey through the classification conundrum has helped someone else temporarily lost on the road to finding the right genre.
C.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.