A Quick Update of Good News Type Things

Without winning a penny of prize money or publication, I received perhaps my biggest achievement in publishing thus far. My store “Little Me, Big Me” didn’t win, but earned an Honorable Mention in Glimmertrain’s New Authors competition. Glimmertrain is the big time, bigger than anything I’ve submitted to before, and to make it in the top 5% of over 1000 entries is incredible. It means someone noticed me!

“Little Me, Big Me” is perhaps my strongest story I’ve written, one that suprised me when I saw how powerful it was when it came out. That’s a great feeling, being scared/pleased with your own work. The story is thinly science fiction, and it’s part of my recent struggle with genre. I’ve found labeling things by genre to be limiting and pedantic. My last story that was critiqued on critters.org received a number of replies that it was marked “fantasy” but didn’t feel like a fantasy story. My thought was “Who cares? What did you think of the story?” But genre also sets up reader expectations. If I wrote a story called “Feast of the Dragon” and wrote a touching character-driven piece about a young man trying to learn how to feed his pet iguana and listed it as fantasy, I would probably irritate readers. Recently, I’ve been wondering whether I “belong” as a fantasy writer, if I should write more fantastic and science fiction stories to be more “that,” or just write and let other people call the stories what they want to call them.

So my question is this– how important is genre?

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2 thoughts on “A Quick Update of Good News Type Things

  1. Hey Adam! My impression is It’s very important for sales- where you’re supposed to be placed so that the readers who want “your type of story” find you. General fiction I think is laudable and when I try to write I guess that’s what I “write in,” or whatever. But in terms of where you’re placed, yeah, being in “one” or “the other” is going to be easier for agents, lit reps at magazines, etc. to understand. That been said, genre-bending is often what “genre” magazines want because they’ve read the same ol’ iterations on the genre forever and often want something new, or at least something that refreshes the familiar.

    I’d say write what you want to write; bending to fit genre really depends on whether you feel the story works better that way anyway, and how much it hurts your pride to do it if you don’t. I got no preaching on that score; you do what you want to do. Have you been able to write since the baby?

    Congrats on the Glimmertrain Hon. Mention! That honestly is a big deal. This is me, totally for real putting up a high five. Did you feel that, bro? No? Let me do it again! There we go. 🙂
    -Matt

    • Thanks, man! I’ll of course let you know if the story “sticks” somewhere and is published.

      Thanks for your thoughts on genre. I agree that attention to genre is important for marketing purposes, but when it’s used as a marker for quality in and of itself, genre becomes distraction. The last story I had critiqued had several readers offer only one substantial feedback item: that the story didn’t feel like fantasy. Not a word about whether the story worked or not, just didn’t feel it fit in its category. I’ve been wondering for a while if I should “leave” fantasy, branch out, or just chuck the question all together.

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