Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Novel Approach

Agents and editors clearly specify we must state the "genre" of our submission.
One immediately wonders if face-down and prostrate at their feet will do - a baroque casket between our grubby little outstretched paws.
I can feel the point of the praetorian guard's sword on the back of my neck when I contemplate writing a query/cover letter. S'truth.
Now "genre" is one of those soft borrowed words that has not yet lost its self-conscious foreign intonation. So few say it without a touch of guilty affectation. Listen, and you will hear that slight pause before the word is dropped. It makes us nervous, for reason.
The basic classifications of genre seem simple and straighforward enough. Some publishers and agents will kindly list them.
However, like everything else in this deep, dark forest on the forbidding shore, it is not simple. Plants and trees one thinks one recognizes often turn out to be a different species. One finds that the terms are slithery as silly putty.
So what if your work of fiction is of mixed blood and contains more than one...um... genre - poor bastard child - and like a standard stool has three solid-as-oak legs of equal strength and length? Let's suggest a thriller leg, a paranormal leg and a romance leg. Dear me, that sounds vaguely...perhaps I should have used braid as a simile instead...
Cross-genre sounds correct, does it not?
However, the term "cross-genre", one discovers, is frequently used in the industry to describe an established writer, who, like a recalcitrant heifer, has leaped the confining fence of one genre and is tip-toeing through the greener grass of another pasture. One devoutely does not wish to imply that one is something one is not and thereby trigger another instance of agent/editorial heaves.
I'm leaving it out. I hope the brief description ( the compleat queary/paragraph two) will sufficiently appraise the agent/editor of the ...um...genre.

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