I recently started to check out this blog called YA Highway, which is of particular interest to me because...I write YA. And I like hearing what other people have to say about it. Anyway, my goal is to answer the weekly Wednesday question-- this week is "How do you choose your genre?"
For me this is kind of a complicated question. When I was sixteen, my characters were over 20, which planted me firmly in the "Grown Up Books" category. The only problem with that is, I didn't know what 23 was like when I was 16, so it wasn't very convincing. I don't even know what 23 is like now, and I'm 21. Anyway, I never consciously decided to stop writing that age level until The Manuscript waddled along.
The Manuscript is my attempt to write about what I like to call "healthy love." The short definition is: love without The Death Grip. And it seemed obvious to me that said story had to be told with teenagers, because I felt like it would have been nice for me to read something like that when I was a teenager, rather than reading books and watching movies in which the girl always needs to be saved and she cannot LIVE without the guy and O. M. G. I must fan myself every time he calls me so that I do not FAINT. I was under the impression that the fainting heroine of many Victorian novels had disappeared with all mentions of corsets and men named Edmund, but apparently, I was misinformed. Seriously. Ever read East Lynne? That woman swoons every five minutes. A tiny sliver of shock and BAM! She's on the ground.
That's not to say that there are no books with strong heroines and healthy love stories out there, but I didn't bump into them until later, so there need to be MORE, people!
Back to my point: the story demanded characters of a certain age, and therefore I found myself writing a young adult novel. It then occurred to me that that was what I wanted to do: write young adult, because that was the age at which I loved reading the most, and it's the age at which I was trying to figure things out and wanted to read about other people figuring those things out, too. Hence, YA. There are some other reasons, but I'll stick with that one, for now.
As far as a more specific genre goes, I think that just depends on what I have when I'm done. I write about the people that pop into my head and if they're fantastical, the story turns into fantasy, and if they're not, it doesn't. I don't know. It's not an exact science, I suppose.
For school, I write literary fiction because that's what I'm supposed to write. I am glad that I have learned to write that way because it has given me a useful set of tools. I just don't seek it out when I'm in a bookstore. Maybe I'll change my tune when it's no longer The Assigned Reading, though. Because I do like a lot of it once I get into it. For awhile I had this distaste for literary fiction, but I think that was mostly the last bits of post-teenage rebellion that were floating around in my brain. Now they're gone and I appreciate it for what it is. Which is: good writing. Complex. Sometimes brain-numbingly boring.
So...genre. Let me summarize:
Unconvincing Grown-Up Characters --> TM + Northwestern = YA + Compulsory Literary.
See? I can do math.