How to Create Your Own Genre
This isn’t meant to be a tribute to a recently deceased author. Other writers are way better than I am at doing that kind of thing. In fact, when Tom Clancy passed last week, I wasn’t going to write anything about him. I don’t mean any disrespect, but I don’t usually mention stuff like that on Dysfunctional Literacy because (attempted) humor is my thing, and I don’t want to be seen as trying to find humor in the passing of famous people.
However, a couple tributes that I read mentioned something that I hadn’t thought of before, that Tom Clancy mainstreamed a new subgenre, the techno-military thriller. He might not have invented the subgenre, but he was the first to get a bunch of them on bestsellers lists.
Tom Clancy may have had some flaws in his writing. Some of his novels were way too long. His dialogue was often brutal. It was tough (for me) to follow so many characters from book-to-book. But he created his own subgenre, and I respect that. Not only did he create it, he wrote the heck out of it too.
Now there are a bunch of authors who write techno-military thrillers, like Vince Flynn (who also has recently passed, and W.E.B. Griffin). And without Tom Clancy, these authors might not have ever gotten their books on bestsellers lists (or maybe not even have gotten published), but that’s speculation.
Now that I think about it, I’d like to create my own genre (or even a subgenre), but it’s probably not that easy. You’d think it would be easy. All you have to do is think of a genre nobody has tried before and write about it. See? That’s all you need to do!
Creating a new genre might not be enough though. I would have to mainstream it too. If I created a new genre but nobody bought my books in that new genre, then creating the new genre wouldn’t have done me any good. Even worse, if I created a new genre and somebody else mainstreamed it and then made tons of money off my new genre, I’d kind of be ticked off. That would be worse than being one of the publishers who rejected JK Rowling.
Creating a new genre (or subgenre) doesn’t happen often, but you could make the case that it’s happened several times recently (depending on how you define “recently”).
Anne Rice mainstreamed the romantic vampire genre with Interview with the Vampire. That eventually led to the Twilight series and a bunch of other vampire knockoffs that I really don’t want to mention.
Suzanne Collins mainstreamed the teen dystopian subgenre with The Hunger Games. Now we have series like Divergent and a bunch of other teen dystopian books.
JK Rowling mainstreamed the teen fantasy novel with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Now we have Percy Jackson and a bunch of other teen fantasy heroes (and heroines).
Maybe EL James has mainstreamed the poorly-written erotic genre, but we’ll have to see if a bunch of other authors can write similar bestsellers.
If I were to create a subgenre, right now it would be called literacy fiction (NOT literary fiction). My ebook The Writing Prompt is about a story that I wrote in high school that ALMOST made me popular (so I guess it’s literacy nonfiction). My current serial “The Literary Girlfriend” (which will eventually be an ebook as well) is about a hot chick who pretends to read literary fiction to make herself look smarter. The next serial that I have planned will also be reading/writing related. So maybe, just maybe, I can write a bunch of stories related to reading/writing and call it “literacy fiction.”
Yeah, that might be a really bad idea, but sometimes bad ideas are all I have.
What other subgenres have been created recently? What kind of subgenre would you like to create? And if you could be any kind of tree, what kind…? Uh… never mind; that was for a different blog.