I think of genre novels as those books with an interesting plot, interesting, not necessarily likable, characters, and a story. They are plot-driven, not character-driven. Genre novels have a discernible …. well ….. genre. The reader can easily pigeonhole them into a category: mystery, romance, period romance, fantasy, horror, sci fi, paranormal, apocalyptic, dystopian, Westerns, and the unkindest cut of all, YA.
Yes, of course you can probably come up with a bunch more categories, and then we can argue amicably about sub-categories, and spin-offs and what is the difference between a Young Adult work and a book for the older child, and what the heck is a New Adult and why is it different from an Adult work or a Young Adult work , and then we can hash out the subtle differences between fantasy, fabulism, and paranormal and what constitutes exactly a crossover work. Then we can move on to the -Punks: steampunk, dieselpunk, atompunk, and what I like to think of as quantumpunk.
Ok, so back up a few sentences where I said the reader can easily pigeonhole them into a category. I totally take that back. I’ve read detective stories where the P.I. was a zombie, where the P.I. was a ghost, where the P.I. was an undefined dead guy, where the P.I. was a female vampire.
I’ve read romances where the main love interest was a ghost; where the main love interest was a zombie; where the main love interest didn’t exactly exist.
I’ve read humorous horror, and gut-wrenching humor, sci-fi that is almost no longer fiction, dystopian that feels like today, and fantasy with ghosts, otherworldly creatures and space craft.
Genre-bending is more the norm these days than true genre works. And we haven’t even begun to talk about YA literature. For me, it seems that the only distinguishing characteristic that separates a YA work from an Adult work is that the protagonist(s) is(are) children or teenagers. And a child shall lead them.
I am waiting for the Senior Adult genre to come full flower. That’s where some Old Fart or Old Lady is the protagonist and beats the pants off the young whippersnappers. I’ve read a bunch of these, too, in case you think that genre doesn’t actually exist. The Geriatric Genre. So far, the only problem with it is that they are usually light, very humorous or gently humorous, and are never as serious or dark as YA fiction. Or maybe I just haven’t been reading the darker, more serious, works in that genre.
Something for everyone. There really is something for everyone in genre fiction. You know me: I’m All About That Story.