The World of Genre

Guest Writer, Avery Hearty

When people think of genre what do they think? Horror, thriller, romance, action and crime probably all come to mind, but after spending a day at my Mom’s work I realized there are so many more genres than just the five or six I thought there were. There are even sub-genres and sub-plots. In a bookstore, there are so many genres I can’t even name them all. There is your classic horror, thriller, romance, fantasy, science fiction and much more. Those are things readers think when they are picking out a book, but I learned that writers and sales people have different genres than readers.

For writers, science fiction isn’t even a genre. I know, crazy right? It’s a setting. If a book or movie is set in the future, for a writer that wouldn’t make it science fiction — they would have to think outside of the box. Like for a writer Star Wars is an action movie with a sub-plot of romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia.

To help me comprehend the whole genre subject my Mom brought me to see Blade Runner and told me to look for the genre, sub-genre, and sub-plot. I looked at the movie totally differently, I wasn’t watching this movie to enjoy it, I was working. And I finally got how my Mom thinks.

During the whole movie I was trying to wrap my head around what this movie was; was it a mystery with a sub-plot of love story? But what about the sub-genre? It had to be horror with all the blood. I thought really hard about this and when the movie ended my Mom asked me what I thought. My final answer was horror with a sub-genre of mystery and a sub-plot of love story thinking this had to be right. Little did I know the only thing I had gotten right was the sub-plot.

When we got home Mom and I sat down made some tea. She pulled out her big genre book and we had a long discussion about the genre of Blade Runner. After many debates and long thoughtful pauses we came to the conclusion that Blade Runner is a Cop Thriller, with a love story as a sub-plot. Watching that movie trying to map it all out was extremely hard, but also really fun.

So, I learned five things today:

  1. There are more than a handful of genres and they are different for writers, readers, and salespeople.
  2. Putting movies and books into genres is really hard (harder than I thought).
  3. The difference between horror and thriller is that horror has a monster in it and thriller doesn’t.
  4. My mom has a really hard job.
  5. My mom has a cool job.

Actually, I knew that last one all along.

Avery Hearty is a grade 9 student at MacDonald Drive Junior High. She spent the day with me as part of the “Take Your Kids to Work” program, designed to help teens learn about different careers.

About the author 

Valerie Francis

Valerie Francis is a bestselling author, literary editor, and podcaster with a passion for stories by, for and about women.

Each month, Valerie recommends books from literature’s best female authors. Selections come from every genre because women write, and read, in every genre. The Women’s Fiction category offers up some terrific novels, but these days there’s a strong female presence in thriller, horror, crime, and other genres traditionally dominated by male writers. No matter what the publishing companies may think, in the 21st Century, Women’s Fiction is whatever we want it to be.

stories for women, by women, and about women