We all have our favorite genres, the ones we live for when we read and write. We become experts in the genre, and cringe when someone disparages it based on unfounded beliefs. Most often these are based on lack of knowledge and believing what others say about it. I mean, how often have you heard that literary stories are slow and boring, and are meant for academic types? But according to Donald Maass in his book Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling (brilliant book, by the way), these are the powerful books that stay on the New York Times bestseller list long after the commercial novel’s typical two-week stint on the charts.
As you may have recently heard, New Adult (NA) books have taken the bestseller lists by storm. This has resulted in many readers and writers wondering what the “genre” is about. It has also led to a mountain of misconstrued beliefs as to what makes a NA story a NA story. Even editors and agents who once proclaimed that there is no market for the “genre” (Ha!) aren’t too sure what it is. They didn’t come up with the guidelines. It was the authors who went onto self publish their books who did that. And now the “genre” is fighting against beliefs that it’s nothing more than a YA story combined with erotica, and that the only people reading the books are middle-aged women who are too embarrassed to be caught reading a YA novel. Yes, I did see that comment on one blog. And of course, anyone who has made comments comparing NA to erotica obviously doesn’t understand what erotica is (most people don’t). It’s not about graphic sex. If you remove the sex from an erotic story, you have no story. If you can remove it and the story remains intact, you have a different genre with some steamy sex scenes.
To ensure you aren’t writing a genre while relying on your own misconstrued beliefs, read as many books in the genre as possible and be careful as to the source of information when understanding the requirements of the genre. You don’t want to be that writer who believes a NA story is really YA erotica. If you don’t truly understand the genre, you’ll miss out on what it’s really about and lose credibility with the readers who do know.
What are some of the misconstrued beliefs you’ve heard about the genre(s) you’re passionate about?