Author Topic: Genre crisis  (Read 668 times)

Offline grover4232

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Genre crisis
« on: March 17, 2019, 02:38:17 AM »
Hello!

I've been reading agents #MSWL tweets, and haven't found many yet that describe my book, and this has sent me on a genre crisis. My novel is about a neuroscientist who is working on a machine that records dreams. That may make it sound sci-fi or fantasy, but I don't think it is. I saw somewhere online that speculative fiction can encompass a world that is just a tiny bit in the future, so I suppose I could call it speculative fiction. It has been a 10 year project and I've re written it somewhere between 20 and 40 times. I paid special attention to the writing/word choice (but really, don't we all?) so sometimes I think that means it's literary fiction. My MC is a woman, but I wouldn't call it feminist literature unless having a strong career driven woman as your MC makes something feminist. At one point one of her research subjects starts to stalk her, but I wouldn't call it a suspense novel, as that is a sub plot. Stuff does go awry with the technology, but that isn't the focus of the book. There's tension between the main character who wants to use the device for scientific gain and the company she works for who wants to sell it for financial gain. My main character has trouble connecting to people and one reader said that it sounds like she's on the spectrum, which she very well may be, but it feels weird at this point to use that as a way to categorize this book.

I talked to my husband about it, and he said "Isn't making it salable the agent or publisher's job" but I think I have to sell it to them first, and I'm wondering who would read this book? Someone looking for their sci-fi fix? Maybe, but it might not be sci-fi-y enough. Women? Sure, but it's not about your standard women's fiction issues. It feels like Megan Abbott's Give me your hand (a pretty science-y book with female main characters ) but without any murdering, or maybe like the podcast "Homecoming"--darkly suspenseful at times but also with a romance. Maybe I just need to add a murder and call it a mystery.

Thank you for reading.
Annie

Offline Tabris

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Re: Genre crisis
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2019, 09:39:15 AM »
I would pitch it as speculative fiction or SF. Let your pitch convey that there's a female protagonist who's on the spectrum and the agent can check the appropriate boxes in her mind without you having to say, "See, female?!?!?" yanno?

Don't call it literary, whatever you do. No one knows how to sell literary. ;-) It does sound as if it's too heavy on plot to be literary anyhow.

As for finding nothing on #MSWL, don't worry about that. So many agents don't really know what they're looking for until they see it anyhow. I'd say just query it as SF (or spec fic if the agent reps spec fic but not SF) and see what happens. Good luck!

Offline grover4232

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Re: Genre crisis
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2019, 01:28:57 PM »
Thanks so much for your response! I took a few online "are you on the spectrum?" quizzes as my main character, and the results pointed to her having asperger's or being on the autism spectrum. I guess I should incorporate that into my query then. I never explicitly refer to aspergers or autism in the book, but the MC does try to self-diagnose herself with anxiety disorder, and knows there's something different about her. Thank you so much for your feedback! So helpful! Good point on the literary thing. I will keep at it. Thank you!

Offline sparrow

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Re: Genre crisis
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2019, 04:31:18 PM »
I'd categorise this as SF. But I would hesitate about pitching your MC as autistic if it's not #ownvoices. If you didn't write her as such, and you're only going by the opinion of a reader and some online quizzes, and have had no sensitivity readers who are autistic, then you are 100% likely to be wrong in your portrayal of autism. It certainly wouldn't be a selling point. Just let your MC be herself. :-)


Offline koji

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Re: Genre crisis
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2019, 05:45:10 AM »
It sounds spec fic, specifically sci fi, to me. You can query under either.

Offline Monty Burr

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Re: Genre crisis
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2019, 12:33:07 AM »
Hello Grover4232,

I’m new here as well. I’ve browsed some messages and being in a bit of a genre quandary myself, I noted your post. I know it’s a bit dated but I’ll risk my first public post here.

When I read your description, I recalled the 1983 movie “Brainstorm”. The scientists were recording real time experiences instead of dreams. I remember a few scenes from the movie. In one, a group of businessmen in virtual reality goggles were taking a ride on a roller-coaster. Another recorded memory was a bit risqué. At the end, a scientist recorded her own death. The ending unsettled my date. It wasn’t a very good movie but if I can recall it, it must have burned a synapse or two. (I just checked IMDB. Natalie Wood drowned before finishing the movie and they had to edit around it.)

Would an agent make a similar connection with your manuscript and a 36 year old movie? Would it be a problem or an advantage? I’d vote for advantage.

To your point, I’d call it Science Fiction. Brainwaves – Recording…That’s enough for me. Of course, if Google keeps along the path, your work will be a journalistic expose by the time it hits the shelves.

The University of Washington has a great sleep science program and their data is out there. I was a study participant in 2004 and they cured me of my need to wander the moors in search for fresh blood and blintzes.

OK, I was kidding in the previous paragraph. I’m not cured.

I think I’d give your book a read should it cross my path. May you sell many.

Monty