Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Where do I belong?

Is there a genre or sub-genre for "men's romance?"

Basically a story of a young man solving a business problem while making a few "conquests" along the way- until he finds true love.

Story doesn't seem to fit any of the standard categories.

That's cause it's not a category in a genre; it's general fiction.
There is a category of romance novels that have men as the main characters. Those are called (I think, but if I get this wrong let me know) hero-driven romance.

My most beloved former client Kari Dell wrote two of them. The most recent is Tangled in Texas. Notice the cover is just the cowboy, and while his shirt is unbuttoned, he's not shirtless, nor is he grasping a delightfully disheveled woman to his manly man chest.

If you're having a hard time figuring out category, there's nothing wrong with "commercial fiction."


Colin Smith said...

If you're having a hard time figuring out category, there's nothing wrong with "commercial fiction."

I love this... except there are some agents, especially those using Query Manager, who rely upon the writer correctly categorizing their work. It seems within Query Manager you can restrict the options provided for "Category" or "Genre," and writers who select incorrectly might find themselves on the wrong end of a form rejection without much due consideration.

So, what's a writer to do if the agent, either by means of Query Manager, or some other stated policy, insists on a more specific category than "Commercial Fiction"?

Susan said...

I've always had a hard time figuring out where I belong. Adult or YA? Historical fiction or contemporary fiction? Finally I settled on coming-of-age nostalgia fiction for myself (which doesn't exist, but I wish it would because I'd firmly plant myself there) and YA/MG when telling others about my books. It's the best of both worlds: they get an idea of what I write, and I feel better knowing there's a place for me--even if it's a place I create for myself.

Although maybe I should stick with this:

"What do you write?"

Mora Green said...

Somewhat off topic but marginally related via hero-driven sort-of-but-not-really-romance, Julie Weathers, thank you for posting a quote from Gabaldon here the other week. It snagged my attention. Outlander never sounded like my cup of noodles (still doesn't), but I gave John Grey a shot, and goddamn, who needs silly extravagances like sleep, food or exercise anyway? I'm so not ready for it to be over. Thank you for the delightful rec.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I have always had a hard time figuring out where I belong. Oh wait, we were talking about writing...huh.

AJ Blythe said...

Mora Green, you've reminded me I need to thank Julie Weathers for mentioning Gabaldon enough that I borrowed a friend's DVDs and binge watched the first season of Outlander. Wasn't sure if it would be my cup of tea but I loved it. Thanks, Julie :-)

As for Opie, I'm not much help because I haven't read any hero-driven books that I can recall. The only title I can suggest is The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. His book is a romance and I only know of it because Graeme's an Aussie author and he spoke at conference 2 years ago (very good speaker).

Lennon Faris said...

I still don't know what to call my mss, which is something like BEASTLY by Alex Flinn. Fantasy? Contemporary fiction? ROMANCE? (I don't think so). Anyway, OP, I feel for you. The struggle is real.

2N's - lol

Donnaeve said...
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Donnaeve said...

Do over.

Boy oh boy, OP. Totally get this. Of course, QOTKU has likely eased many minds this morning because hey, hello, Commercial Fiction. Yay!

However, once you put out a certain type of work, you begin to build your brand. This resonates with me b/c I have a completed ms which I hope will one day see the light of day. I love that story. It meets what I'm writing halfway. First half, Southern Fiction. It most definitely fits taht, but, it's from a male POV, but aside from that, it's not a coming of age story.

I wrote it in 2012. I hope, maybe if my books do well...one day it will get a peek outside of my desk drawer.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Romance tends to be considered "women's fiction", because the heroine's tale is as important as the hero's.

Or perhaps I should say, the hero's tale is as important as the heroine's? Romance is very feminist.

Good Romance is about both the hero and the heroine being satisfied with what they get in the end. Balance is required.

Could it not be considered "men's romance" as well? What would make a Romance stand out as "men's Romance"? Told from purely his POV? (If so, that would make my last book "The White Feather" men's Romance, as it's told completely from Our Hero's POV.)

What about M/M Romance? Both romantic leads are male. Can that be considered men's Romance, or can men's Romance only be hetero monogamous?

Romance is categorised as "Romance" because finding love and a Happily Ever After (or even just a Happily For Now) is the main plotline. That is the drive for the story.

If the story's about a man finding love, I guess that could be considered "men's Romance", though I would simply have seen it as...


As for your story, Opie, is the main plot about him solving business problems, or finding true love? That is, ultimately, what will determine what category this story fits.

Amy Johnson said...

OT kind of: This post about genre and category has me thinking again that recent posts and comments here reflect something that's been on my mind: Different people see things different ways. Of course, we know that. I'm reminded that it's important to consider that in our writing. We've shown recently that we have different definitions for words, different opinions of what should be considered rude, etc.

On April 20th, Janet provided some much appreciated clarification: "Genres are: crime, science fiction/fantasy, and romance. Historical is NOT a genre. . . . Historical is a category . . . YA is a category, because any genre can have books that appeal to young adult readers." I know Janet knows what she's talking about. Which means I've seen many, many people apparently using "genre" incorrectly.

Sunday's discussion (and lots of stuff in the news) suggests different people have different definitions for the word "feminist." Am I one? Well, tell me your definition first.

Also on Sunday, many of us had different ideas about the use of the word "ladies."

The word "gaze" came up recently too. If enough people are using it incorrectly (according to the dictionary), but in the same way, that suggests the dictionary definition may change or at least be expanded. (I'm reminded that definitions can change over time, and that first plenty of people use a word, and use it with the same meaning, then< the word gets into the dictionary. Not the other way around.)

Sunday also has us talking about what we consider rude. And even different ways of raising children came up. When a wonderful regular here (with whom I almost always agree) asked, "Right?" (perhaps as if the point she made were a given), my answer (which I kept to myself) was, "No, I didn't do that." If one of my children wanted to talk with me while I was talking with another adult, I taught them to say, "Excuse me." Then I'd excuse myself from the conversation and see what my child wanted. That's what I consider the polite thing to do, not the rude thing. If I'm in a conversation with another adult, and her child wants her attention, I'd want her to tend to her child, not keep talking to me. If the child were in the room, I'd include him, welcome him into the conversation (and keep the conversation appropriate given that person's inclusion). Same thing I'd do if the other adult's spouse or parent or sibling or friend were in the room. I wouldn't expect the adult I'm talking with to not include the other person and to tell them she's speaking (so don't interrupt). I'd consider myself rude if I didn't include someone in the room (child or otherwise) in the conversation. The other person here and I apparently handled that kind of situation differently. Doesn't make either of us a bad parent. We just apparently thought and did differently when it came to that particular thing.

There's so much more to consider on this, but I'll bring it back to our writing. I suppose when we're writing, we should try to be cognizant that readers might think differently than us, and differently from each other. If a character addresses a group of women as "ladies," is he being respectful, or is he being a-- I won't say it. I prefer to be ladylike. ;)

nightsmusic said...

Diana Gabaldon insists that her books are not romance, they're historical fiction however, I find them almost exclusively shelved in the romance section because no matter how you look at it, the majority of her readers are there for Claire and Jamie, the history is secondary. 50 Shades of Whatever is a sub-genre of Romance. What the OP has described reminds me of some of the Harlequin groups. Ultimately, your readers are going to decide if your book is women's fiction, romance or something else. I realize this may not help you, but I do know, in Romance, there are several leading men rather than women.

Then you have Lord Peter Wimsey, an amazing detective who ends up with a romance as the stories go on...

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Make your best guess and then proclaim it is a fiction novel. All of Carkoon will descend upon you.

I can see how this can be tricky. Outlander is a great example. Query anyone who seeks in close categories and genres.

The Sleepy One said...

Norah Robert's SEA SWEPT might be a good comp choice for the OP. Man dealing with the death of his adoptive father, and a lot of life changes that include his promise to take care of his youngest brother, recently taken in from a bad situation. At the beginning of the book he's a womanizer and by the end he's both found love and is able and desires to settle down instead of following his previous jet setting life style.

Donnaeve said...

Amy most likely everyone knows who you mean, so, here I go.

My points about children interrupting wasn't intended as black/white as you laid it out.

The child could have something important to share. (I just threw up) Yep, I'd want that parent to attend to their child.

The child could have wanted something not so important to share. (Can I have a popsicle?)

As parents we can usually tell. I think this is a generational thing too. In the "old" days, that "Be seen not heard," was the thing. I'm not THAT old, and that wasn't the way I was taught, or my kids, I'm simply pointing out how much our world has changed because nowadays kids pretty much get the same level of participation in adult conversations as adults.

But, at some point, I have to think, all parents, at least the ones I know, teach their children there are times when they shouldn't interrupt.

Or am I plain crazy?

Donnaeve said...

Oh, and I meant to add, you teach your kids to say "excuse me," and yes, acceptable and polite (!), but somebody we know who was the main point of this whole bugaboo didn't even do that.

Amy Johnson said...

Donna, Yes, you were the "wonderful regular here (with whom I almost always agree)" I was referring to. :)

I think I would have excused myself from a conversation to say, "Sure, have a popsicle." And having one of my kids say "excuse me" and then asking me would have been fine by me. Polite even, in my view. I understand others might disagree with my view.

I didn't at all mean to lay things out as black/white. To the contrary, my point was that there's so much gray, and that as writers we should be cognizant of that in our writing (and in real life too, I suppose). :)

Unknown said...

A few days ago, I'm talking on the phone with my sister. My son, with whom I have had many (many!) conversations about interrupting, appears at my side.

"Mom, mom!"

Me, with angry face and tight tone, "You're interrupting, what do you want?"

"The toilet's overflowing. Thought you'd want to know."

As for genres and categories, I needed a good read late last night, so I searched historical fiction/mystery on my library's ebook site. The first three pages that came up were modern romance. Uncle!

Amy Johnson said...

Oooohhh, something just occurred to me that I should have mentioned, Donna. Thank you for getting me to think more about this. I did teach my kids differently when it came to "interrupting" people other than me. They knew not to simply say "excuse me" and expect other people to stop their conversation to respond to said kids, especially for something trivial. No, they would never do that. Polite kids, they are. My view on "interrupting" me, I'm sure, has a lot to do with my view on my role as a parent. To me, the kids come first, even to the point of when I'm having a conversation with another adult, and the matter the child brings is as trivial as a popsicle. This reminds me of a great point made Sunday (I think you may have been the one to make it :) )--our views on these kinds of things aren't isolated--they're related to our past experiences, views on related things, etc. For me, the issue of an "interrupting" child related to my parenting style. Which, I imagine, not everyone would agree with. Works well for us. :) Makes me think about how things the reader has experienced can color the way he reads what we write.

Kathy, Very funny story!

Three and I'm done. Have a great day, everyone!

Steve Stubbs said...

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale,

Yes, I agree with you. When I read OP's post, the first thing that came to mind wasm this was some sort of homosexual story. I don't know anything at all about that, but have noticed some movies are categorized as "gay interest." Is there a book category like that as well?

I was very confused by this statement:

"Romance tends to be considered "women's fiction", because the heroine's tale is as important as the hero's. Or perhaps I should say, the hero's tale is as important as the heroine's? Romance is very feminist."

Very interesting insight. I am thinking I must be behind the curve because this is not a comment Andrea Dworkin would have made, and certainly not Valerie Solanas or Gloria Steinem, or probably Catherine McKinnon. Those writers are all old, though, so is there a new crop of feminist writers who have broken with the Old Guard? If you are not familiar with Valerie Solanas, you can read THE S.C.U.M. MANIFESTO on line free of charge. It is a fun read. I think you might be able to find her feminist play UP YOUR ASS on line as well, but am not sure. She was quite a hit with feminists for a brief time for shooting Andy Warhol. She was a lousy shot, so missed all the other men she shot at. It is amusing that after calling for an armed uprising by feminists and - let me coin a neologism - mass androcide, she went into hiding when the mass uprising did not happen. I am as much of an UN-fan of Warhol as anyone could be, and believe she was doing the world a favor, or trying to, anyway.

Sitting here, it occurs to me people today may use the word to mean female-oriented instead of its original meaning, Solanas, et al, feminism. Language is constantly evolving. If that is the case, it explains a lot of confusing things.

I want to understand the romance genre better, so if you have a moment, please share your thoughts.

Unknown said...

Now, on topic: Yesterday, I read a definition of a thriller as, 'You know the perp and the story is about finding him.' A mystery is when 'You don't know the perp and the story is about discovering who did it.'

For me, this helps clarify better than describing differences in pacing, etc. And it makes my MS a mystery, not a thriller.

This concerns me, because in mysteries, people expect murder, and I don't have one, nor would it advance the story. (A beta reader passed the MS to her parents, big readers, who both liked the MS, but commented about the lack of bodies).

Is a mystery without a body still a mystery? Will readers wanting a mystery be disappointed if there's no death? If so, how does one categorize a mystery without a body?

The Sleepy One said...

Kathy, a mystery without a body is still a mystery. Just not a murder mystery. There are novels about disappearances and such without murders.

Look up THE SECOND GIRL by David Swinson for a recent example.

nightsmusic said...

Steve Stubbs

Romance is very empowering to women as far as that aspect of feminism goes. Romance heroines are not simpering women who fall apart at the drop of a hat and if by some chance, one gets published with a MC like that, the book is usually not well received. All of the women you mentioned are as far removed from the romance genre as one can get. They are radical feminists who have no use for men. The romance genre is the opposite. If you want to understand the genre better, read one.

Unknown said...


Joseph S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph S. said...

kathy joyce

Aren't there mysteries about thefts all the time - bank robberies, art thefts, secret documents etc

Maybe who is the blackmailer or who is threatening to cause death or mayhem (I think that will be my second E.J. Sniegorski book if i get that far)

Or Who's the mastermind behind the drug, prostitution, gambling syndicate ,etc?

I'm sure there are other examples

like the big mystery: Can a man who wears chaps find love in today's world?

Unknown said...

Honestly, I can't believe how today's change in perspective/understanding between mystery and thriller has changed everything for my MS. I had gotten myself so contorted over the thriller issues that I even became confused about who was the protagonist.

Now it's clear. Oh, the one who's missing is the protagonist. The one who took her is the antagonist. Everyone else is a suspect. How could that have been such a struggle to figure out?! I knew it when I started, but thought I was writing a thriller, which muddied it up.

Even the right words for the right query have popped into my mind now. Part of me feels like an idiot that it took so long. The other part feels like the muse opened my brain and poured in milk and honey.

*Shakes head.* Sometime in the middle of last night, I decided to put this MS aside and work on another one, because this just wouldn't come together. But today it did! (Take that, soul-crushing doubt!)

Thanks for letting me gush. And thanks to all for your help. Something about discussing changing perspective and genre/category back-to-back was what I needed! :)

Unknown said...

I always thought of these works as thrillers. For. Years.

BJ Muntain said...

I suppose OP's wouldn't really count as big-R Romance, except that it has a happy ending with the guy finding the right girl. As I understand it, Romance involves girl meets boy, they have tribulations getting together (internal, external, both) and then wind up living happily ever after (or at least, happily for now).

Your books sounds like a fellow trying to find happiness, then finally finding it. Which would fit more in Women's Fiction, I believe, if it were a female protagonist. But you wouldn't want to call it 'men's fiction', as that would kind of leave women out, and I think that women would want to read that kind of story, too.

Commercial fiction is a good category. Note: It's a category, not a genre. I'd think the genre here would be simply 'general fiction' or 'contemporary fiction'. Basically, genre-less fiction. :) But who knows? Perhaps OP and Ms. Dell might be able to get together and create a whole new subcategory for Romance, or maybe a whole new genre, like Women's Fiction became.

Colin: The only way to be more specific about the category of Commercial Fiction is to add a genre. Commercial contemporary fiction?

Regarding Diana Gabaldon: If you ever have a chance to hear her speak at a conference, do so. She's a wonderful speaker. Also - as Julie has said on many occasions - a very gracious woman.

Kathy of the best last name: I'm finding your sudden enthusiasm thrilling. Thank you for sharing!

RosannaM said...

Cheers to Kathy. It is the best feeling ever to have a break through that gives clarity. Can't wait to read it!

Casey Karp said...

I'll second/third/whatever number the cheers for Kathy's sudden special delivery from her muse.

But that said, Kathy, please do NOT shake your head! That's just gonna mix the milk and honey your muse poured in, and mixing those two ingredients is just disgusting.

Uh, unless you're also adding a bunch o' fruit for a smoothie.

Or lots of chocolate ice cream and calling it a milkshake.

In which case you had better shake your head hard to properly blend the ingredients...

Dena Pawling said...

I always thought an open mystery was when the reader knew the whodunnit and watched the detective figure it out (like columbo) and a closed mystery was when the reader figured out whodunnit along with the detective. A mystery (open or closed) was trying to figure out something in the past and a thriller was trying to prevent something in the future. And some books overlap with a past event and a future event. It's interesting that there are multiple definitions even of genres.

Lennon Faris said...

Kathy - that's awesome! I love those aha! moments when an aspect of life comes into complete clarity. Mine usually come at the most unexpected times, like cutting grass or scrubbing the toilet. Have fun now :)

Donnaeve said...

Amy Exactly! And well struck on clarifying that point! There are times when it's fine and others, meh, not so much.

Kathy, FUNNY story, that one! Nothing like an overflowing toilet to enhance the day, but mostly congrats on that breakthrough! It's the best feeling EVER.

I have another tidbit to share with y'all about the whole category/genre thing that might possibly cause cries of anguish and hair ripping, but I'll save that for another day.

John Davis Frain said...

I'm glad someone brought up Sunday and Monday comments, because now I can pretend I'm not going OT. I was just outside (searching for dry land) and was struck that

1) Janet has created such a special neighborhood here because even when the residents disagree, there is plenty of civility.

2) No matter the color of your skin, the size of your checking account or who you love, we're all a lot more similar than we are different.

3) I don't have a three, but there's a "Rule of 3" in fiction, and I'm always practicing.

Kathy, Eureka!

JD Horn said...

Still hoping to be granted my own genre. Life, as well as finding comps, would be so much easier. :)

Julie Weathers said...

Categories are tough. I am swooping through hurriedly as I research falling bodies, or perhaps fallen bodies. The county medical examiner won't return my calls. I am sad.

To those enjoying Outlander and Lord John Grey, hooray. Ron Moore, thankfully, has kept to the spirit of the books if not the letter. It would be impossible to do so. So, the series has been pretty good, but the written words are to fall in love.

Outlander is a perfect example of a book that is hard to pigeonhole. Diana actually doesn't hold it out to be historical as she doesn't know what it is. She does know it is not formula romance. Not that she has anything agianst romance, but it just doesn't follow the rules.

She spoke about this awhile back. One distributer insisted on putting the Outlander books in romance. That's how the powers that be wanted them shelved. Another put them in fiction. Diana pushed for the books to be placed in fiction. Finally she got sales numbers and contacted the one who insisted it was romance. She showed them with numbers that people who were looking for her book were not going to romance to find it.

They agreed when they saw the disparity in sales numbers to start stocking it in fiction. Now, you will still find it in some bookstores in romance simply because that's how some managers view it.

I always thought historical was a genre, so I have no idea what Rain Crow and Cowgirls are. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Back to chunking bodies for me. Have a good one.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Steve, I am a First Wave Feminist (as is His Grace). The Feminists you're referring to are Second Wave Feminists. While both categories are feminists, our focii are different. The attitude and hatred against men was stronger in Second Wave Feminism. First Wave was more, "We need to bring women up. Give them the right to vote, to own property, to control their own money, to be educated," etc.

I don't hold much truck with Second Wave, because the general anti-men sentiment, I believe, actually goes against what feminists should be be standing for. Please don't assume that feminism must include misandry.

This is why I would cheerfully say Romance is definitely feminist. Romance stories are about a woman getting what she wants on her terms, and the focus of the plot is about her success. She gets a satisfactory love, she gets respect, she gets an orgasm (in the PG13+ ratings), she gets security, she doesn't have to sacrifice her career before she can have love, and so on. Also, the man in her life does not have to lose for her to win. By definition, in Romance, if she wins, he wins too.

For a story to be men's Romance, he can get everything listed above, and a woman doesn't have to lose before he can get it. That's what makes it feminist.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Carolynn... I spent some time on your blog today. I couldn't stop reading. I envision you as the published author of a comical, yet thought provoking and stirring, "The View From Here" sort of memoir. Or perhaps, The World According To Two Ns. Good stuff...

John... I agree with your comment regarding this community Janet has created - and how much we all appreciate, respect, and admire her. And rely on her. And how much we respect and enjoy each other. I've been pondering why the post about our friend Rudy from the conference has affected me so. (I figure he deserves a name, as he's created such a hub-bub, even though I still don't feel he was rude). But I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I wonder if it's because I see the worst of mankind?

Twenty-five years of rescue work (horses), working with law enforcement on abuse cases from all over the country. Dealing with horrible creeps who starve and/or neglect these sentient beings, while I somehow remain calm and non-confrontational. You can't lose your temper. That gets horses killed.(These creeps would rather shoot the horse than turn them over to a sanctuary).

Maybe Rudy's infraction at the conference pales as I've devoted the last two weeks to doing everything I can, day and night, so an emaciated filly survives a much bigger wrong. Give me Rudy's wrong any day compared to the evil creep who starved this filly. I dunno. Maybe Rudy reminded me of something my amazing, brilliant, hilarious, and incredibly kind father would have done... talk to strangers. Oftentimes in an awkward (yet gentle/funny) stumbling way.

John Davis Frain said...


Maybe it's as simple as this: When you hear a story, you frame it in your mind based on your history and perspective. If Rudy represented your father, then he wasn't rude. Not a chance. If Rudy had reminded you of one of the creeps who neglect their pet, then you'd have a different perspective.

Either way, I wouldn't think too much on it. Nothing we can do about it from where we stand, and there are likely more pressing matters.

I think you usher the sun into a cloudy day, and that's something to be proud of.

Leandra Wallace said...

Manly man chest made my morning. =D