Archives for genre

#FlashPIC 25 Orange Railings #writingprompt #amwriting

There are three basic reasons for storytelling; the things which we write about and others want to read. Entertainment, understanding the world we live in, and escape. Sometimes if I am stuck in my own writing, I like to push myself to write about subjects new to me and explore unknown areas. This may mean taking a genre with which I am unfamiliar, which for me is horror, sci-fi, fantasy and military. As part of the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series, here is a FlashPIC prompt to help you explore your own unknown areas. If you like writing short stories, write something longer; if write long, try a flash fiction story. Consider this picture of an ordinary scene. An empty train carriage. Write a list of the everyday, obvious things about it. As many single words as you can. Now, alongside each word, write another list of opposites. Then add a third column, with the most exaggerated version of the second list of words you can imagine. Be experimental, take a risk. Now use the train carriage as the setting for a short story. Write in an unknown genre and allow your mind to explore possibilities in your sub-conscious. Don’t be afraid to be
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

I agree with… Lisa Jewell

When asked about the snooty attitude towards commercial fiction, Lisa Jewell replied: “That if you read something in two days, it’s not as good as something which took you two weeks to read.” [in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, April 21, 2017]  I dislike labels which limit our exploration of the novels we choose to read. Genres are cosy, familiar, we know what we are going to get. But what about reading outside your comfort zone? Jewell talks in this interview with The Bookseller about how she was labelled as a ‘chick lit’ author when she published her first novel, Ralph’s Party. “I will never, ever know if it worked in my favour or not. Unless someone can give me some data and say, ‘If you hadn’t been perceived as chick lit, you’d have sold fewer books,’ then I think, ‘Fine, okay.’” The time for the chick lit label is over, she hopes. Essentially, genre labels like chick lit are a convenient way for the book trade [publishers and retailers] to categorize novels for management purposes. For example, I dislike the way crime fiction is separated from general fiction on the shelves in bookstores. I like to browse. And who
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… David Whitehouse

David Whitehouse is not a fan of genre distinctions beyond those that help people find books they will enjoy: “It becomes more than genre, [it] becomes a type of person and it excludes people. That’s not the point. Telling a man on the street that a book is ‘literary’ or ‘commercial’ isn’t helping them find what they want—he would say: ‘Well actually I want something that’s sold a lot of copies.’ [in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, October 28, 2014] Genre has developed from an easy way for publishers and booksellers to categorise a book for retail display and sales management, to a bit of a strait jacket. I’m sure I miss out on some really great books by not perusing the Horror or Science Fiction shelves. And I have never heard a customer saying in a bookshop ‘I’m looking for a great literary novel’. It’s the same when searching on Amazon. A quick search for Jessie Burton’s excellent debut The Miniaturist reveals the issues, it appears in three categories: historical, literary fiction and contemporary fiction. I don’t understand the last category as the novel is set in 1686. Perhaps the tale is wagging the dog now. To read
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Not such a bleak ending, says Kevin Brooks

Author Kevin Brooks, winner of the 2014 Carnegie Award for Children’s Fiction, appealed for publishers not to put too much emphasis on happy endings and in doing so stirred up huge controversy. According to The Times newspaper, Brooks said in his acceptance speech: “This school of thought – that no matter how dark or difficult a novel is, it should contain at least an element of hope – is still fairly widespread and ingrained in the world of ‘young adult’ books… I just don’t agree with it.” Teenagers, he added, “understand things” and should not be “cosseted with artificial hope”. Brooks, whose winning book The Bunker Diary is published by Puffin [part of Penguin] is said by The Times to have had countless discussions with his editor at Puffin as he fought to retain his dark ending. To me there are a number of issues. One is about modern society being over-protective of young adults. Second, it is about publishers not trusting authors. I haven’t read the book. Perhaps part of the issue is that the Carnegie Prize for Fiction is for children’s books and YA fiction is just that, for young adults. Perhaps YA is too grown-up for the
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

I agree with… Joel and Ethan Coen

Joel and Ethan Coen “Culturally people are used to watching certain kinds of movies, and a lot of movies have genre types as characters, and those are the people you see in movies. They are used to seeing Tom Cruise play Jaaaack Reeeeeacher,” he slurs the name sarcastically, “and the characters are all kind of the same.” [Joel Coen, interview in the Sunday Times Culture magazine, September 15, 2013] In this interview, Joel and Ethan Coen talk about characterization in their movies. They have been accused of creating odd characters, critics call these grotesques [below, Frances McDormand as Marge from Fargo]. Ethan: “The whole people-taking-it-as-grotesques thing is they don’t see it or they want to disavow parts of themselves by saying ‘Oh those people are weird’.” I worry that we have a tendency today – in film, in literature, in life – of needing to label and pigeon-hole people. Anyone different is odd. Labels and pigeon-holes do not tell a complete picture. Authors should be free to create their characters, free to let their stories develop without having to discount a story turn that may take it ‘out of genre’. More authors these days are self-publishing where they are free to
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.