noun | a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter. (via Google)
There are many levels of genre within writing. Fiction and non-fiction. Within fiction there’s romance, suspense, epic, tragedy, fantasy, etc. Within romance (for instance) there are subgenres such as Christian romance, erotica, historical, contemporary, paranormal, young adult, etc. The distinctions can go on and on to include some as distinctive as born-again Amish paranormal suspense.
As authors in a vast sea of genre “species” how are we to set ourselves apart? Enter the genre niche tag line, as I like to call it. McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it.” Disney’s “Where dreams come true.” Nike’s “Just do it.” Your author tagline sets your brand niche, tells readers where your writing falls within the genre your published. (I talked about this a little bit here.)
Choosing Your Genre Niche
How does one go about choosing a genre niche? What’s inspired you to write within that specific niche? Have you ever given that any thought?
My tagline is Charming Southern Romance, Inspired by Grace. Why? I recently took a much needed trip to visit my best friend in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. This area of the Blue Ridge Mountains is my happy place. I was first entranced by the place, almost magical to me, when I attending undergraduate school at Mars Hill College. Coming from metropolitan Orlando, it was a culture shock to say the least. But meeting my best friend, Jennifer, invited me deeper into the place I now call a second home. Visiting her in this place this past weekend reinvigorated my awe for this place and why I feel so compelled to write about it.
The Blue Ridge has a way of enlivening every sense. The sweetness of the damp earth and savoriness of tall pines. The blue haze of smooth mountain ridges, each a shade lighter than the one in front, and the brightness of westward sunsets. The harmonizing songs of morning birds through windows left open all night, and the lazy bubbling of meandering brooks. The gentle brush of cool breezes across your cheek as you rock on porch swings. And the pure, simple taste of home cooking in kitchens of homes and mom-and-pop restaurants alike.
It’s a place where prayers are said between clasped hands in school gyms at the end of clogging practices. Where the Rotary Club president announces bluegrass bands to the summer festival stage. Where drawls drip slow like honey, stop lights are few and far between, and high school football games draw the largest crowds. For me, it’s a place that calls me to breathe deeper, pay more attention, and enjoy the simpler things in life.
The North Carolina Blue Ridge epitomizes, for me, southern charm. The yes ma’am’s, pardon me’s, and don’t mind if I do’s make me smile. They come from folks I want to know. Folks I want you to know. So I use my experience in this place to inspire the settings for my stories. Laurel Cove, the fictional town in my first novel, is based heavily on Spruce Pine as well as neighboring Burnsville — where my friend Jennifer grew up. If you feel the same peacefulness and hope I do in my stories (not coincidentally things my characters long for), then I’ve chosen my genre niche well.
What’s Your Niche?
If you’re a writer, do you have a genre niche? What’s your tagline and why did you choose it? If you’re a reader, what subgenres do you most enjoy reading, and why?
I posed the question about genre niches to fellow authors on Facebook the other day. Here are a few of their tagline and responses.
Meghan Gorecki‘s tagline is Author of stories of how God makes beautiful things out of the dust of history, and hearts. She tells me, it’s “…is the overarching theme though of both my life, why I love American history–seeing God’s hand and provision–and how He also does the same with romances.”
Angela Jeffcott, one of my ACFW critique partners, shared this: “Mine is fairly simple: Grace. Hope. Everyday. As I write, and live, I find myself coming back to the things that keep me going, that help me write. In my stories my characters need grace and they need to hope in something greater than their problems.”
One of my favorite authors (and people) Jaime Jo Wright had this to say: “Spirited turn-of-the-century romance, stained with suspense … That’s my tag line. My genre is Historical Romantic Suspense because I love dead bodies and romance in petticoats. I mean, who wouldn’t??” Indeed, Jaime!
And, from Tina Pinson, “Fiction With Grace. Because I handle hard topics sometimes and after taking my characters (and readers) through the fires and pit falls of life, I want them to remember God’s grace is there.”
So, what about you? Share below in the comments and let’s keep the discussion going!
What’s In a Genre? Choosing Your Genre Niche — TWEET THIS!
Authors, what’s your #genre niche? Tell me why! — TWEET THIS!
3 thoughts on “What’s In a Genre? Choosing Your Genre Niche”
I love this! Mine is “faith. fun. forever.” I love it because first and foremost, faith is central to my life and my stories, whether that faith has been long-standing or is something that develops in my characters lives throughout the novel. Fun because I love a good laugh! Who doesn’t? And God enjoys our laughter (when it’s an edifying laughter, not at the expense of others). ❤ Since I write romance, there just *has* to be a HEA (happily ever after). I intend on including a wedding in each of my books–whether the main character's wedding or someone else's–but I also want to ensure the reader sees a glimpse of the forever *after* the wedding. It isn't always a bed of roses, but with Christ at the center, marriages can work!
Based on all that, I write inspirational romantic comedy. I think that encompasses my tag line. I hope. And pray. And if not, since you're one of my critique partners, you can call me out on it. 😉
Thanks for sharing, Mikal! I love your niche — especially the WEDDINGS! Who doesn’t love a good wedding with their HAE ending?! 🙂