At one time or another, I've been asked the question of how a writer knows which genre they are writing in.

Some genres are going to be fairly obvious.

If we're writing about the typical boy-meets-girl-gets-girl-lives-happily-ever-after, it's generally going to be romance. Hold the phone, though, because if there are other factors that have come into play in the story, we could also we talking about historical romance.

The world of writing has so many genres these days, sometimes it might be difficult for an author to actually classify their work. But make no mistake about it - we must classify our work! Whether we are going to find an agent and publish "the traditional way" or whether we decide to walk the journey solo and self-publish - we MUST have a genre in which we classify our work.

Today I'll talk about four areas that seem very closely associated - Romance, Historical Romance, Women's Lit and Chick Lit.

I'll begin with the Romance category, simply because  it may be the easiest to recognize of the four.

When writing a novel in the romance category, we think of the romantic relationships between male and female, where the characters are thrust together rather quickly. I was told by a publishing house a few  years ago, when inquiring on this subject, that the reader of a romance novel would like to see development of the two love interests within the first half of the first chapter; in romance books, we may also think of the characters living a glamorous lifestyle or having the ability to provide for one. Of course, in the romance category, the ending is boy-gets-girl.  And they are also destined to live happy forever after. 

Just because I can, I'll also throw in a little twist with the Romance genre. There are sub-genres. Oh, yes.

A few of these include: paranormal romance, contemporary romance, future romance and western romance, just to name a few.

For more information on romance novels, I recommend Romance Writers of America, which you may find at rwa.org.


There is also the Historical Romance genre, which combines features of the romance genre with other factors such as timing, facts, and content.

Take a romance novel and firmly plant the story (to mention just a few acceptable setting) in a Civil War, Trail of Tears, Royalty, the 1800s or earlier setting. (I say "firmly plant" because a historical romance needs to have that time-stamp on it to qualify.)

By using  real names and mentioning  real dates, locations, facts, trivia and situations, you just may be writing a great historical romance novel if the two main characters are also love interests  early  into the story. 

For a simplified and easy to understand guide into not only the historical romance genre, but other sub-genres of the romance field, I suggest looking at fictionfactor.com.

Next on the list comes Women's Literature, or Women's Lit. This type of novel often includes emotional or very  powerful stories of women who have either survived situations such as abuse or severe poverty, perhaps the very collapse of their family units or prejudice they've had to overcome from their communities; overall, Women's Literature is for women. In these novels, there  may be steps outlined so the reader may learn how to overcome the same obstacles in their own lives or signs to alert the reader that they could be in danger of falling prey to the same situations that the author is writing about. You might  say that Women's Literature could be thought of as a women-helping-women genre.

I've found, on a side note, that this genre is also written primarily by women.

For a short list of Women's Literature Author Websites, please see provolibrary.com/womens-literature.

The last genre I'll discuss is Chick Lit, which is, as the genre self-describes, is aimed for a reading audience of women. Books in this genre deal largely with subjects such as family and relationship issues, which are topics that appeal to women of all ages and backgrounds. I found some great information on chick lit at chicklitbooks.com and I have to tell you that I learned a few things I didn't know about this genre after reading this blog. (For instance, this blog will explain the difference between American chick lit and UK chick lit.)

In short, although there are a great number of genres circulating in the media now, it is very important to pinpoint exactly what genre we are writing in; failure to know what we ourselves are writing could potentially result in a very small reading audience.

With the great variance in genres and sub-genres, have you found it difficult to either pinpoint your own work or find the work of another author? I’d enjoy hearing your comments on that question!

 

     Robyn