The Trouble with Genre

covercollage2I found the article below by J.J. Azar to be the best explanation of The Trouble with Genre and why one size doesn’t fit all.

Whether we cook with food or cook with words, the product is as unique as the artist. It’s this uniqueness that not only makes our craft genuine but also interesting and captivating. Our work bears our signature. We–not the genre–define the work, and the work defines us (“Mother’s roast duck is the best”). By stuffing it into a mold (genre), we risk creating a false expectation in the reader, as J.J. Azar shows. But, as he also points out, we have to label our work with something.

That said, as readers we have to keep in mind that genre labels are just labels. A good strategy is to find out what a book or show is actually about, or better yet, do a taste test. Sample it.

J.J. Azar

To kick off today’s post, I would like you to envision something for a moment. Let’s pretend you’re baking a cake in your kitchen. We’re going to assume that it’s a Tiramisu cake because I want to be cheeky and reference a previous post, and we’re also going to assume you’re decked out in your chef’s hat. As you’re busting your ass working over flour-stained countertops, your youngest sibling saunters into the kitchen like a pointy-eared imp who has no business spectating.

So you’re whisking together flour and milk and eggs in a bowl with the wrist of Ares, beating the damn ingredients together like they owe you gambling debt, and there’s your little sibling waiting for the perfect opportunity to break your concentration. And finally the little thing asks, “What kind of cake are you making?”

You look at your sibling with eyes of death. “Tiramisu,” you hastily answer. You don’t have

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About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction, fantasy, and paranormal, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning disorders and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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4 Responses to The Trouble with Genre

  1. JJAzar says:

    Wow, thank you so much for reblogging this (It’s a first for me!). I like that you suggest that we “taste-test.” That’s absolutely it. For example, I’m generally not a fan of horror films, yet I really enjoy the Sixth Sense. If the label of “horror” had turned me off from the movie, I’d have never seen it (or had my mind blown). It’s horror, sure, but it’s its own thing. I’m glad you found something useful here, Eva.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dana Wayne says:

    As usual, great blog post!

    Liked by 2 people

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