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Author Topic: Identifying Genre
Member # 8501

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In a recent Dean Smith post, he talks about the ways how self-pubbers can shoot themselves in the foot by mis-identifying the genre.


I've got a series that I just finished writing (260,000 word trilogy) that I cannot figure out the genre. I'm tempted to say YA Historical Fantasy, but other than YA, the story line doesn't align. I wondered if I might get a little help here. Don't know where else to put this question.

Main Character: Sixteen year old girl. POV is hers exclusively. She's the daughter of a country Squire. Her mother was the daughter of a duke.

Setting: Fictional setting equivalent to 1800's England. There is a nobility, but there are property laws and no feudalism. I hate to say fictional world, but it isn't Earth, but earthlike. Seven day weeks, twenty-four hour days, four seasons summer, fall, winter, spring.

Speculation: None. No dwarves, elves, dragons, magic etc. There are inventions that are being made that are the equivalent of gunpowder, etc. but the society has good pre-industrial technology. (clockmaking, glassmaking, water-closets, etc.) but not steampunk.

Romance: She has an ongoing relationship that runs through the book, but never quite blossoms, until the end. Happy romantic ending. Just a bit of kissing.

Action: There is political intrigue and the MC has to deal with a lot of external and internal conflict. She learns to fight with a sword (this is not a swashbuckler, however) It's a bit like Jane Austen meets Joan of Arc.

Where would a reader expect a book like this to classified?

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Member # 8019

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I couldn't suggest without a description of the main dramatic complication, the problem wanting satisfaction that arcs through each installment and overall. The description so far feels kind of travelogue/documentary/slice of life vignette in another world.
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Member # 8501

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Volume One: Major arc is dealing with mother's death and father's remarriage while being exiled to a Women's School. While this happens she gets embroiled with a secret weapon (equiv of gunpowder) and rebels.

Volume Two: Father disinherits her. She goes to capital to help start Women's College. Finds she had a different father, high minister brother to king. The district where she lives secedes from kingdom. She raises a little army and retakes the northern part of her district and rescues her real father from rebels.

Volume Three: Real Father sends her on a mission to rival country (exchange student)to find that the Emperor wants her for a concubine. She escapes. Confronts real father who helped Emperor capture her so she could be an implanted spy. King gives her title (Duchess) in her home district, She confronts stepfather, who's hanged, ending the overall story arc with him. Finds that real father is king, (whew!). Reconciles with boyfriend **Hugs & Kisses** End.

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Member # 8019

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Coming of age under and enduring an unstable family life during the independent identity formative years is certainly young adult. The very one central figurative dramatic complication of the Potter saga. I'm still unsure of another category division, like whether science fiction or fantasy genre, save other world milieu.

Possibilities I see are the other world (exotic secondary setting re: Tolkien) is an escapism premise in a vein of other world science fiction's appeal: fulfilling a desire to figuratively escape from the natal nest, the homeworld (Earth), and establish identity through new frontiers' challenges; a dystopian representation of present-day human conditions, social commentary, so to speak; and alternate history anachrony: temporally displaced technology, culture, and society features; however, through a figuratively temporal, spatial displacement to another world instead of, per se, literally time. "In a galaxy far, far away . . ."

In other words, setting is on point as an intrinsic, unifying, theme-related feature of the narrative saga. In what way does the other world setting pose complications that are unique to the time, place, and situation that insist upon satisfaction for a coming of age saga? Identity formation is a core convention for coming of age young adult initiation. How does the setting shape the protagonist's identity and become intrinsic to the plot?

If one of the above three possibilities: escapism, dystopia, anachrony; then science fiction with fantastical features, hard science fiction if fantastical physical science and technology features, soft science fiction if fantastical social science and technology features, crossover if some of both. Closer to mainstream-science fiction crossover if the sole or predominant fantastical premise is an other world setting, with or without a connection to the real world.

I don't see fantasy on point, though, though alternate fantastical milieu is a common convention of fantasy.

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Member # 8368

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Well, I've read the first book.

The closest I could come would be to call it cross-genre.

It's not really historical, because it doesn't take place in an historical setting. It's maybe closest to fantasy, but there's no magic.

You don't really need much of a fantasy element to call it that, though. I've found OUTLANDER shelved as fantasy and nearly all of it is more of an historical romance than anything else. It just has this one fantasy element that gets the story started. (All right, two, if you count a brief encounter with the Loch Ness monster. [Smile] ) The difference is, of course, that the historical part is real--Scotland at the time of the second Jacobite uprising.

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Member # 8631

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I would classify this as fantasy, very low fantasy, but a made up world is a fantasy element to me even if there is no magic.

It definitely isn't historical fantasy. I expect historical fantasy to be basically a historical novel with some fantasy elements. In other words, it would have to be set in our real earth at some other time in history.

That's my take. [Smile] Good luck.

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Member # 6044

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Given that the world has not discovered gunpowder before renaissance, and gunpowder is a key point that the first book revolves around, I'd probably consider it alternative history. There are (at least) two types of alternate history - ones that focus on the change in the timeline, and ones that focus on the consequences some time after the change. This falls into the second.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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How about "alternate world YA"?
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