Genre, genre. Wherefore art though, genre?

DebE —  August 18, 2012 — 3 Comments


Yes, I know that “translates” to “Why are you, genre?”, but I still claim it makes sense …

O, Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?

O, Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou Romeo? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shut up (pouty look).

Seriously, though. How does one decide exactly what genre their story fits into? Do you just know? Do you know before you begin – making sure to include all the tropes of that genre? Do you do extensive market research, sharing your work with readers and asking their thoughts? Do you put it out there and see what label attracts the best reviews (on the notion that if you’re attracting the right readers, they’ll be more likely to like it)?

Yes, of course this come back to me … It’s all about me! (Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha … ah … ha!). Anyway.

Where was I? Right, yes, back to Healer’s Touch and the subsequent Weapons of War stories. I’ve been calling it a Steampunk story from the beginning. But I keep coming across people even more into the Steampunk genre (or sub-genre, if you like) than I, and I begin to feel like a bit of a fraud. Thing is, though, it is set in Victorian-like times (though on a Victorian New Zealand-like and Victorian US-like world). Wild West, if you like – I know I do (o: (But without guns … to start with anyway. They’re just so impersonal … How can you have a natter with your nemesis if you’re both aiming guns at each other? Really?)

My main man has a rather large tattoo, and I believe body-modification appears on the list of Steampunk thingies somewhere. A tattoo is pretty lame in that regard, but my antagonist wears a mechanical bracelet that allows him to perform magic … now we’re getting somewhere, huh? Yes. My antagonist is the key, really. He’s an inventor. He has a body modification – and I haven’t finished with him, either. And he’s an inventor, which I think is pretty key. I think that is where I need to put my Steampunk energies … I had intended for him to have a mechanical horse. Might get back to that idea.

I guess my “fear” of placing the label Steampunk on it, is that people will expect obvious Steampunk elements right from the start, where they don’t really get going until later in this first book. Subsequent books will be different. Is that OK, though?

This first book is also about getting the team together, including the central romance. So sometimes I feel that I need to put Romance as part of the description, but it is only a part of the story. A key part, because these characters will function better together than apart, and their journey to come together allows the politics of the world to be explored …

Well, thanks for letting me ramble.

If you’ve got a magic bullet for labeling your writing (or mine – yes please!), I’d love to discuss it!

I don’t have any blog give-aways to do. That would require having something you guys might want and the time/money to provide it. But I do like interaction. All I can promise is the automatic link back to your own blog that happens when you comment/like/whatever. So, feel free to do that.

Right, back to nutting out my upcoming plots.





Deb E was born in New Zealand’s North Island, but her parents corrected that within months, moving south to Dunedin and staying there. Childhood nights were spent falling asleep to cover versions of Cliff Richard and the Shadows and other Rock ’n Roll classics played by her father’s band, and days were spent dancing to 45 LPs. Many of her first writing experiences were copying down song lyrics. She graduated to scientific reports when she studied a nematophagus fungus in the Zoology department of the University of Otago, trading all traces of popularity for usefulness… then traded both for fiction. Mum of one human & four fur-babies.

3 responses to Genre, genre. Wherefore art though, genre?


    Why does your writing need a label? Isn’t “fiction” enough? 😉 Assigning labels actually limits your reach, because unless you label yourself “steampunk,” steampunk purists will then ignore you. For example, perhaps there are subgenre labels for the science fiction work of Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Larry Niven, but I don’t know what they are. I like Robert’s witty dialogue and his way of painting a picture with an elegant turn of phrase, even though most of his characters are clearly his own voice, which can get dull. I like Arthur’s big ideas and his sparse, black-and-white prose. I like Larry Niven’s continuity of an entire universe across many books and short stories, even though his “voice” is usually that of the much-traveled bartender who’s serving/working with aliens. I know why I like each of them. Knowing what their subgenre label is does not make me like them more, nor would it probably have helped me find them more quickly.

    I would worry more about your characters’ labels. Like Braph. To me, that’s a rude noise. Maybe it’s fitting, for him. But it’s not a name that would make me want to get to know him. Maybe… Sylvian. Or Lester. Or George. No, just kidding, George is just too much. ;->

    Clearly I am tired. Off to bed. Oh, wait, I can’t, or I will miss my plane. Hmmm.


      I guess when it comes to having real paperback books put on store shelves, they’re going to want to know where to put me. And fans of certain genres will want to know what I’m offering. I think “Fantasy” alone might be enough. But, I would like to attract a few Steampunk fans, too, I guess …

      In a perfect world (for me, anyway), all I need to do is get a few readers who are very vocal about what they love and who are very influential among their friends … and then I’ll sell millions of copies ah ha ha – and take over the literary world!

      Um … anyway …

      I’m all right with Braph being Braph … He’s the bad guy, anyway, so it can sound like a rude noise if it likes … I actually “borrowed” that from the actor Zac Braff (“Scrubs”).

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. A bit of fantasy, a bit of romance, a snippet of steampunk… | Persimmon Frost - August 25, 2012

    […] Genre, genre. Wherefore art though, genre? […]

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