What Is Genre Fiction?

According to Jerome Stern, in Writing Shapely Fiction (Norton, 1991), “genre means specific categories like science fiction, fantasy, horror, espionage, detective, Western, romance, young adult. There are also subgenres like erotic romance, quiet horror, and police procedural. The principles and rules that govern each genre can be quite specific.”

At the recent WriteOnCon 2010, author Julie Karr discussed genre fiction and why you might want to write it:


If you are interested in thinking more deeply about this topic, the blog “Grasping for the Wind” has some intriguing articles about genre, including a three-part interview about “The Future of Genre Fiction” (part one, part two, part three), and an essay that asks, “Are We Post-Genre?

Try Something New!

Are you ready to try your hand at some genre fiction, just for fun or to expand your writing repertoire? Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Read Tyler Cowen’s recent blog post about an essay written in 1910 that predicted life one hundred years later, including a “wireless telegraph” that “Serves as a telephone, the whole world over” and “Either rings or vibrates in your pocket.” Use this inspiration to write a short story or piece of flash fiction that takes place in the year 2110, including details of the kinds of devices and activities found in everyday life.

2. Enter author D. M. Cunningham’s short story contest for “the best up to 750 word short story that celebrates trick or treating, apple bobbing, creeping out your sister or brother, and avoiding the spirits of the night.” The story should be appropriate for children (not YA), and the deadline is October 15, 2010 (at midnight, of course). Read full details on Cunningham’s Literary Asylum blog.

Update on My New Social Media Habits

Today was day twelve of my new writing habit, and the third day of writing longhand. The next step will be deciding on a new email habit, but I want to wait until I have the first habit established. What I do want to start now is some pre-habit work. I have (gulp) 3629 messages in my inbox. Within the next couple of weeks I want to whittle that down to a big fat zero, with the messages I need to save neatly stored in well-labeled folders. Wish me luck!