As people, we seem intent on categorising everything; the emails in our inbox, the type of film or TV channel we watch, the food we like to eat, and the books we like to read. We can't seem to help ourselves. Even the clothes in the high street shops fall under categories e.g. tall, petite, casual, smart, evening, occasion, work wear. The list is endless. Why do we feel the need to do this? Is it simply to be organised? Whatever the reason, the same applies to the creative writing industry.
Do you know what genre you like to read, or write? Few people could name it without hesitation. Ask a friend or two what types of books they like to read and they'll quote titles and probably authors by name. Some may say 'I like crime fiction' or 'I live for romance books or sagas'.
When you start to write a book for the first time, it is often the last thing you think about, the shelf it would fit onto in the shop. The industry will want to know which shelf your novel slides onto. I learnt this valuable lesson very early on. My publisher told me that I had written a romantic thriller, which meant a cross over between romance and crime. I thought I had written a mystery.
If we didn't have categories in the bookshop, would you read something you'd never normally find? I wonder how many books we would enjoy if we didn't stride with purpose to our usual badged shelf. There are plenty of cross over genre books, and most would be enjoyed by many, so next time you're in the bookshop take a stroll around and open your eyes. You may just find a hidden gem.
Amazon and Kindle in particular have debated this point already. It is said that ebooks offer readers a wider choice less restricted by categories. Do you agree?
It's worth thinking about early on if you're writing a book, believe me, and crafting your masterpiece with this knowledge in mind. However, it's not the end of the world. All that really matters is that you write the story that you want to tell.