Categorizing Genres and Authors

To create you must be organized. Our minds are both analytical and creative. The trick is finding the proper balance. Most never find it.

In the library world we focus on categorizing and compartmentalizing everything, especially in the Cataloging Department. It makes sense. In order to have order, items must be classified, rules to house information in a database must be followed, and then materials must be lettered and shelved in a locatable fashion. This is the editing side of the brain. It is an important and necessary function, but it is secondary, even tertiary; it must be silenced long enough to let the creative side originate new thoughts, ideas, and ultimately creations.

When writing there is a cognitive approach to organizing your work. Perhaps the toughest balance of them all is knowing how much credence to give to knowing your audience and outlining your work. The writer in you wants to be free flowing and allow the creativity to have a life of its own. The editor is constantly trying to chime in and make sure you don’t get too off track. Every writer must find their own balance in their schedule and in their heads. Writing is neither an exact science nor a complete art. I imagine most writers realize they and their work are easier to relate to if they are more readily quantifiable. In other words, most writers stick with one genre and find a basic formula for their story lines that work, in order for their readers to keep better track of them. If readers know what to expect and readers like that genre then they are more prone to keep reading from that author. J.K. Rowling found out how hard it is to switch genres on your adoring audience.

But what if creativity is more dynamic than can be classified? What if in all of us is the complexity to desire flavors, experiences, and customs beyond what we have tasted before?

For me I have a wide array of interests in life. It is not easy to fit me in a box. I suspect this is true for most people. If you are a wood worker who has made a great chair in the past, you don’t see yourself making that chair over and over again the rest of your life. And yet, if you want to make the most money you find the product your customer likes best and you recreate it again and again. I suppose I am going against all conventional wisdom.

I wrote a book that is historical fiction. “Sterling Bridge” has elements of popular fiction. It has every bit the same appeal and all of the drama. It is a story of courage and inspiration in the face of all odds. At the center of the story is central theme in all stories, with the struggle of good and evil. It is the epitome of a coming of age story where the characters learn and grow and the reader learns with them. The difference is that “Sterling Bridge” is a story based on lives that actually happened. Thus, it is in the history category, but it is written in a way that highlights all of the important moments that characterize a town and tell their story in a logical condensed form. It might not be what you get out of Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Popular writing that you are used to reading. It’s not of the picture book mold to be read in 5-10 minutes, though it also isn’t of the lengthy Charles Dickens prose or “Lord of the Rings” series meant to be digested by course over several days. No, what it is is a great story. Place it in a genre as you will, but at the end of the day there is something for everyone in the pages of “Sterling Bridge” because we are all living our own stories with very similar challenges and natural themes that arise.

When someone asks me what genre “Sterling Bridge” is in and who the intended audience is naturally I am thinking that the story is for everyone, but not just because I want readership. Its main characters are teenage boys so it would appeal to them. Boys need more books to read when you think of how most books know boys don’t read as much and therefore most books are not written with them in mind. The story itself will draw in the most avid reader of fiction with its pacing, rise of conflict, and intrigue in resolution. But you will find it on the adult fiction shelves for its richness in historical value and for the adult’s typically more developed palette. Although I’m hoping to break the mold a little bit and make history interesting for everyone, make our daily lives as important in time as our lives truly are. If you like stories of triumph in life you will like “Sterling Bridge.”

It is a story for everyone even though I didn’t make it into the form that is most read. No, I stayed true to the story. I let the story decide what genre it fits in. For now the field of study will decide where I fit as an author, but I am determined to stay true to my works. The next book won’t be historical, but it will be true to life and fictionalized enough to make it interesting for the reader to escape from their own life for a while and take in a different set of circumstances. Hopefully I can break you out of your mold of your editing brain and organizing each day the same as the last. Have you ever read a film novel, for example? Let “Sterling Bridge” be your first offshoot genre experience with reading a book meant to become a film.

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