How do you pick a genre for life?

Last week I began pondering a cumbersome idea. And frankly, it’s been consuming me. How do you pick a genre for life?

I have a love-hate relationship with categorization.

The annoying, fastidious side of my personality appreciates the tidy attempt, providing a simpler way to choose entertainment in the form of books, music, or films—all things I can’t live without.

Lately categories have become a thorn in my side. For me, one of the hardest choices I had to make when I recently self-published Beneath the Satin Gloves all came down to that bloody categorization.

I stared at the screen for a good while and had to partake in some monumental soul-searching. What about history, romance, adventure, comedy, drama, and don’t forget…science fiction?

After biting all of my fingernails until they became unrecognizable, I made some big girl decisions. After all, the right reader may never find my book if it’s in a category that doesn’t fit. No pressure.

So, I threw my baby book into the thriller pile. When applicable I tossed my baby into the espionage heap for good measure.

I just finished the first draft of my second novel. But, the marketing elves reared their ugly heads, stifling my excitement with their shrill, no-nonsense voices of reason saying: “How are you going to define this kooky one, Britt?”

In a lot of ways, my latest work is an inspiring story about self-discovery and surrendering to love. On the other hand, there is a dark past which haunts the main character, creating suspense throughout.

I eventually realized why picking a genre for my books was so damn difficult. It’s like picking one for life.

Stories are fantastic glimpses into the lives of others. Concepts and characters don’t simply appear out of thin air; they’re based on real experiences and real people.

Life is impossible to categorize.

If it were simple to define, it would be dull as all get-out. We would walk around aimlessly, because everything would be ordinary, regulated, and colorless.

What about my life? I see romance, comedy, and adventure. Sometimes drama makes an appearance—and that’s OK, too. Perhaps my life story would be considered an indie dramedy.

When it comes to packaging up entertainment, categories bestow essential borders of interest for us to reference. Yet, there are times when I watch a comedy and I don’t laugh—in fact, sometimes it’s a downright tear-jerker.

Will readers think my books are all about hopeless criminals and serial killers, because of the thriller label? Possibly. Because we all categorize the category, don’t we?

All I know is, I rolled the dice and took a chance. Hopefully readers out there will do the same when they stumble upon my books, mere needles drowning in a haystack of millions.

So, now I have to challenge all of you. If your life story became a book or a movie, which genre would it fit into?

19 thoughts on “How do you pick a genre for life?

  1. letizia says:

    How frustrating to have to pick a category for your book (but what an interesting challenge too…). I know in the publishing world they sometimes ask you “who is your intended audience?” and I always think, “well, hopefully, the piece will transcend one specific audience!” But I know they mean whether it will be for academic biologists etc.

    So. To address your challenge. My life would be in the adventure, travel, comedy-romance with spikes of drama genre (goodness that makes my life sound much more exciting than it actually is!).

  2. Rana says:

    True that 😀
    As for your challenge, I’d leave my readers to pick its genre themselves if I could (not because it’s much much easier) but it’s just that we all see things differently and thus categorize them accordingly. I’d like to think of Life as a category on its own! As a matter of fact, I do keep a category called “life” for my blog posts 😀 Pretty useful when even a bunch of genres aren’t just good enough!

    Loved your post 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Absolutely agree with you, Rana!

      We all do see things differently, so categories are such loose anomalies in the grand scheme of things. I keep that “life” category for my blogs as well…gotta love it! If something is all over the place, throw it into “life”. ; )

  3. amandaroederwrites says:

    So true. On a similar theme – last week someone asked me a really great question: “What would be the name of your memoir?” I puzzled over it all night and couldn’t come up with an answer that I really liked. It’s so hard to boil down a life into a few short words.

  4. Browsing the Atlas says:

    I can’t pick a genre for my life nor my writing. Luckily I haven’t had to. I’ve been privileged to write for magazines and newspapers across all genres. I’ve written fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s, reviews, travel articles, and advertorials. I can’t stick to one thing. It makes it hard sometimes to explain who I am, but if I had to limit myself to one thing, I think it would feel like slow death.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Lucky you for spanning genres! That’s one of the things I love about blogging…I get to scribble all over the place.

      And, I hear ya loud and clear on the slow death point, loud and clear.

  5. L-Jay Health says:

    Great topic! Im not sure what genre my life would be. Sometimes I find myself all over the place at times. If I had to pick it would Adventure, Documentary, Sports, and Action. Great post again!

  6. Waywardspirit says:

    Thanks for working this essential question. You gave my question a face, so I can face it. : ) Learned that metaphor form a girl I follow on Twitter. Love metaphor. Love your insight. : ) Snatching your perspective up. perspective to sp

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