Our brains are biochemically hard-wired to recognise familiar patterns almost instantaneously. A staggering amount of parallel processing goes into this, making the human brain extremely efficient at pattern recognition.

This skill is a survival instinct. Anything that is not like us is a possible threat. When you're in a book store, sneaking through the aisles, sniffing the air, hunting down that perfect new book to knock on the spine and drag back to your reading cave (complete with leather pitted chairs, banker's lamp and smoking jacket), there are a lot of possible kills to be made. Hundreds. Thousands. You need a method to quickly sort out the areas that most interest you. Book covers are one. Genre sections are another.

Genre classification as a subject for discussion heats up every so often around the net, and it's happening again. I think it's worth discussing, if only to remind us that the labels we attach to things are not the things themselves. And that snobbery is an attribute to be looked down upon.

If you're all not absolutely spent from the heated battles out there, please do chime in over here. But only if you think I'm actually making a point. I mean, I've barely slept.


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You should see what I can do with Cartesian thinking and a bunch of Vegas prostitutes. You know, putting Descarte before the whores.
putting Descarte before the whores.

I'm sorry, Stephen, but we have to kill you now.
Wait a sec. Which one's Romance, which one's Horror?
Yes, but that's not the end of it. Once the marketing tool is in place, it bends the writing toward itself.

So yeah, it's a marketing tool. But it's not just a marketing tool, because writers are aware of it, and write toward it to varying conscious and unconcsious degrees.

Yeah, we'd all love to think we're independent thinkers who aren't affected by petty things like marketing (at least, those of us who don't love to think that we're marketing wizards). However, marketing had an affect on the things that affected us. So maybe it's a little... not necessarily disingenuous, but too easy, to split this into good ol' intuition and inherent genius instinct vs. irrelevant marketing and critical ego tripping.

Marketing is designed to affect people's judgments, and it works. Haven't our own judgments been affected? All this effective marketing aimed at readers--and writers aren't somehow not readers. Don't we label our own books? Sometimes even before we sell them? Doesn't that occasionally affect what's written?

And if not consciously, and not in your own case, then what about subconsciously, and in the case of other writers you've read? What's the difference between a genre trope and a marketing angle?
Now he's getting all Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle on us. Observation affects the outcome, of course. But what else can we do? Write in a vacuum and repeat novels from the past by accident, like the Professor who reinvented the skateboard on Gilligan's Island?

Marketing is such a strange beast, though. An idea created by humans designed to control us.
Observation affects the outcome, and the outcome affects the next observation. So let's not pretend they're separate.

As for what else we can do, I don't know--maybe try to see clearly, and then go from there?

I, for one, am really fucking tired of the "It's a business" attitude that seems to have completely overwhelmed the online writer groupthink. Yeah, fine, it's a business. Great, whatever. Market market market. Blog blog blog. Tips tips tips. Drive that traffic! It's a good thing to learn about, and I've participated in it, but I can't wait for this pendulum to swing back to where "genre" can be discussed in its literary sense, simply because we're writers and we're INTERESTED IN IT.
Here, here. Marketing and promotion are just tools to get art out to everyone, and let the artist live. Me, I've already got a day job. I'm doing all this writing because I HAVE NO CHOICE. It's WHO I AM.

Umm, who are we yelling at? :)
We're yelling at THE MAN, GODDAMMIT!
Heisenberg and Gilligan in the same paragraph? Are you people trying to fry my brain?
Mmmm. Fried Toni-brains.
"Large breasted midget rodeo porn is a genre. At least, if it isn't my career's fucked."

Oh, that was you?
Once, in an interview, Stephen King was asked why he writes the types of stories he does. He said, "What makes you think I have any choice?"

That says it all, I think.

Write what you love. Write the book that only you can write. You can follow market trends, to a point, but if you don't love writing (for example) romance, then you're probably not going to sell romance. Same with any genre.

Personally, I dig hardboiled detective stories. That's what I write. Could I write a paranormal romance? A military adventure? Probably. But I would be faking it, and editors can spot a fake in a heartbeat.

Write what's in your heart. That's the best any of us can do, really. And we want to do our best, don't we?


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