So, here I am, just a day into my new novel writing journey and one thought is preoccupying me. Which genre shall I write?
I’m sure a lot of people go into novel writing with an idea already formed, or at least some idea of the direction they intend to go in. As this is an entirely new project…I have no idea.
I’ve previously written romance novels and I’m aware that the vast majority of lesfic novels are romance. Controversially, I’m not a fan of this trend. I feel like a lot of lesfic novels, be they crime, fantasy or historical fiction, seem to have a romance story crowbarred into them. As if all lesfic novels must include two women’s journey to bed as an integral part of the narrative that sometimes just doesn’t fit.
There is a stigma attached to writing lesfic and I’m pretty sure that the sexualisation of every story is a prime reason for that stigma. As an out woman, I feel a sense of duty to show how “normal” my life is. Like many other people, I pay bills, begrudge the price of filling the car with fuel and love the smell of a BBQ on a summer evening. Who I choose to sleep with should not be the only thing that defines me. Nor should it be the only defining point of every book I write or read.
In an ideal world, where no one harbours hatred towards others and we all ride to work on unicorns, I see book selling as very different. In that ideal world, I see bookshops not separating LGBT and straight fiction. If you pick up a newly released general fiction book, I would expect that you would be able to find straight and/or LGBT characters within that book. To my mind, it should be fairly irrelevant what sexual preferences the main characters have in, say, a murder mystery. Unless the killer was motivated by homophobic hatred…but I’m getting away from my point.
Surely, the only section in a bookshop that needs to be split between LGBT and straight, is the romance section? Where that preference is a critical factor to the story being told?
But, we don’t live in an ideal world. And I’m a commercially-driven marketing consultant, and I know that sex sells.
And, because of that, I feel that I need to either write a romance or something where a romance story can easily stand alongside the main storyline without seeming out of place.
I’m also a believer in the fact that stories don’t fit neatly into genres. Whatever story you are telling it is often about people and a journey they are taking. Personal relationships and interesting characters with a sense of purpose trump fitting snugly into a genre.
So, I know there will be romance of some kind. But I don’t think it will be just romance.
Now I just need to wait for inspiration to fall out of the sky. Usually, I find that I choose a genre or feeling that I want my writing to stick to before I flesh out too much of the story. This is because I know that people like to be able to neatly explain what something is.
And I know that, if I don’t confine myself to a genre, my writing will ran between various genres and it will end up being a crime story with aliens set in Victorian London.
And the literary world just doesn’t need that.