The “new adult” genre and the approaching genre singularity

October 8, 2012 § 9 Comments

Yes, I understand that genres are useful because they help booksellers know where to shelve new books and readers find books similar to those they already like. That said, do we really need so many of them?

In case you’ve missed the news, the powers that be have decided to shoe-horn yet another genre in between children’s books and “adult” books (maybe I should call them “grown up books” as “adult books” sounds like 50 Shades of Gray). “New adult” is the new genre, and in case your powers of deduction are failing you today, it describes books between young adult and old adult books, (which I will henceforth just refer to as “boring books”) and as far as I can tell is basically defined by having a protagonist of late high school or early college age.

In principle there is nothing particularly wrong with this and it might actually help me eventually sell a book as this is the range I sometimes I write in. Like I said, there really are uses for genre distinctions. But I can’t help but feel that this “new adult” genre is either a) just a way to get adult readers to feel less embarrassed about reading books described as “young adult,” or b) write more salacious and “adult” scenes in YA books while still being able to maintain that they aren’t targeted to young adults. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Does psychology support the show-don’t-tell writing maxim?

December 8, 2011 § 4 Comments

When of the most common things an aspiring writer will hear about writing is “show don’t tell.” I come across it ad nauseum in blogs, books, and conversations. “Don’t tell me he was upset,” they say, “show me he was upset.” But there are a lot of other “rules” in the writing world that are founded on the current literary climate and personal styles, rather than laws of the writing universe.¬† It’s hardly worth mentioning that storytelling methods have evolved over time and people don’t write today the same way that Jane Austen wrote, who didn’t write the same way as the authors that came before her, and people breaking rules is how that evolution happens. For example, I think the fear and loathing that is often expressed towards adverbs is overstated and (at least for me) counterproductive. Despite their overuse, there is a time and a place to use it, like any other part of speech. This has left me to ponder the age-old struggle between showing and telling.

Enter the psychologists. Joan Peskin and Janet Astington, who have studied the effects of showing and telling on children. « Read the rest of this entry »

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