Genre fiction is a big problem when you’re trying to write new stuff that doesn’t quite fit.
I like but won’t use Kurt Vonnegut’s concept of “I write fiction. Your genre labels are annoying.” (Not a real Vonnegut quote) In today’s book world it helps you sort through a huge pile of books to say “Give me the scifi cowboy love story.”
Nobilis Reed mentioned in a twitter post today how he was having trouble branding his writing since he doesn’t write in an existing genre.
I’ve a similar problem since a) my stories tend to be very multi-genre and b) they’re all basically the same genre regardless of whether they’re talking about magic or strange super-science.
I would posit the best way to brand yourself in these complicated genre messes is to focus on tone, instead of plot content.
Noir and detective stories now seem to be more easily recognized by the “feel” of the story instead of any specific trope. Sure trench coats and whiskey flasks help that feel but you can get noir without them.
Asimov science fiction and Bradbury science fiction sometimes to me to live in separate universes. The feel of the great Asimov fiction to me is so very different that I might not recommend The Martian Chronicles to a lover of Foundation. They both are awesome.
So in focusing on tone, my as yet unreleased Podcast novel seems to focus primarily on the numerous mysteries and the impact of their actions on innocent bystanders (and the main character’s sanity).
I’m not sure what genre it is but that seems more central to enjoyment of the story than the fact that Darklings are basically vampires or that the natives of Farrakan can’t tell Bridan’s genetic manipulation from magic.
I’m still working my way through my first book by Nobilis, however so far the story’s tone focuses quite majorly on the emotional life of its narrator as well as the impact the scifi world has on the relationship between the two leads.
Maybe he’s a scifi romance that just happens to be particularly adult flavored, like how Judy Blume’s Forever is still at heart a realistic Young Adult fiction story despite having a number of explicit scenes that upset parent watch groups.
Nobilis’s lengthier fiction seems to have enough plot to differentiate it from straightforward attempts at titillation, so I guess the key question is: What is at the heart of his stories.