Monday, 17 September 2012

Is there anything like an original genre anymore?

#21 on the list is to write in an entirely new genre.

I have to question though, in an industry that completely compartmentalizes literature are there any original genres left? especially amidst so many sub genre definitions. I look at the themes and characters that typify popular fiction and think well, people are repeating that which they think is new and fresh when in reality there are only so many story lines and so many character profiles out there. I know this is nothing new, borrowing themes and stories from older texts has been accepted even in Shakespeare's day. I wouldn't establish it as out and out plagiarism, more a nod to what has gone before, but it makes me despair that there is little to no originality in literature anymore just story repetition and trendy genres.

I read widely but currently write in the horror and fantasy genre and I see this in proliferation. releases follow patterns,  I took a look in Waterstones at these sections and out of all the books typical themes/character the rise of the Paranormal Romance section has been one that I have watched with interest. Books like the "Twilight series" (makes me feel dirty just typing that without swearing), Charlaine Harris' "Sookie Stackhouse" books and the raft of other authors who have jumped onto the bandwagon for lucrative sales. They have followed authors like Kelley Armstrong whose Otherworld books got me back into horror books and at the time had inspired me that there was something other than the prolific writers like Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Fantasy follows similar thematic repetitions. There was a trend of Pauper turned powerful Mage books particularly in the past few years probably started originally by David and Leigh Eddings.

 I got bored of adult fantasy/horror books for some time and got into Young Adult fiction because there was at least some originality with the ideas coming through,. Eoin Colfer's "Artemis Fowl" books, Darren Shan, Percy Jackson, have given me some hope for literature but there is a lot out there that doesn't pique my interest because it all reads the same. In Young Adult fiction though there is an underlying current of what the next "Harry Potter" of their subset will be, although no formal contender to the crown has come to the same level of sales and renown. I would peg books like "The Hunger Games" in this category but although they have a lucrative film deal, Panem and the deprivations of the Hunger Games world don't necessarily outweigh the imagination that is inspired by Hogwarts.But I digress,

Trendy themes also outweigh quality writing. Look at the current phenomenon of "50 Shades of Grey," which originated (allegedly) from Twilight fanfiction and reads like a shopping list of adjectives with some naughty words interspersed. Its main selling point is the frisson of an illicit dom/sub relationship. It has achieved through word of mouth from bored housewives/horny students/bandwagon jumpers what Mills and Boon have been quietly publishing in mass numbers for decades. It is acceptable smut which would have been unheard of in the decades where "Fanny Hill" and "Lady Chatterley's Lover" were banned. It has also refreshed the market for sex toys and bondage gear by its readership longing to try out what they'd just read about. It engenders though all that is wrong about modern literature and the disposable gratification of modern readership especially when if statistics are to be believed literacy is at an all time low.

So what can I surmise from all of this, I have to avoid the current trends, so vampires, werewolves, robots, "mummy porn", trauma stories and most of the fantasy stereotype themes are out. I am considering Young Adult or some type of researched fiction piece.  Any other suggestions - post in the comments,.

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