How to Categorize Your Novel by Pamela S Thibodeaux (c) 2015
My novel, The Visionary which released on November 16, 2011 in hardcover, E-book on January 8th 2013, & softcover on April 1, 2014, is categorized as Inspirational Women’s Fiction. This is how the publisher and I see the novel, but not necessarily how others see it.
Reviewers have termed this novel romance, paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi and Christian -- all of which are OK but not exactly 100% accurate.
This led me to thinking How DOES one categorize a novel?
One of the major parts of a proposal is category and the advice of many is to go into a book store and find out where your book would fit on the shelves. Among the thousands of titles out there, this can be quite a challenge.
Since publishers feel it’s a bit arrogant to say “My book belongs on the shelf with the other Best Sellers,” let’s look at the different categories and see how I determined mine as Women’s Fiction.
#1: Is it Inspirational or Christian? Although undeniably “Christian” I do not write within the conservative guidelines required by many CBA publishers - therefore, Inspirational better fits what I write. In fact, my writing has been tagged as “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ since my debut novel, Tempered Heartsin 2000.
#2: Is it General Fiction, Women’s Fiction or Romance?Romance is defined by certain criteria - 1 couple; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, couple lives happily-ever-after. The Visionary has a set of m/f twins as the main characters, which immediately threw it into a genre other than romance.
General Fiction covers anything that can't be narrowed down into other sub-genres (ie; suspense, thriller, etc)
Women’s Fiction is normally defined as a contemporary novel that deals with women’s issues...ie: divorce, domestic violence, empty nest syndrome, etc. and a WF novel usually has a strong romantic thread in it. Since The Visionary deals with the twins’ journey through childhood abuse into wholeness, and into new life and love, Women’s Fiction seemed appropriate.
So why then has the book been termed paranormal, fantasy & sci-fi? What's the difference?
According to the definitions I found, Science Fiction is based on "imagined future scientific or technological advances."(IE: Time Travel).
Paranormal is defined as, “Beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation: such paranormal phenomena as telepathy; a medium's paranormal powers.
Considering the gift of visions my heroine has, I guess paranormal does apply to this novel.
According to Wikipedia.orgFantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element, theme, or setting.
Supernatural elements, are, "manifestations or events considered to be of supernatural origin, attributed to some force beyondscientific understanding or the laws of nature."
Supernatural are events like those listed in the Bible ... Parting of the Red Sea, burning bushes that are not consumed, God speaking through a donkey, fire from heaven burning up sacrificial offerings that have been so heavily doused with water there is no natural way fire is possible, feeding thousands with five fish and five loaves of bread, walking on water, etc.
These elements are present in The Visionary and are based on the book of Joel (2:28), where the Lord says, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions."
Am I upset that the terms “paranormal,” "science fiction" or "fantasy" are used in conjunction with this novel?
Of course not!
If those terms will encourage someone who wouldn't normally read "Inspirational, Romantic Women's Fiction" to pick up the book and have their own personal experience with a supernatural God, then I'm all for it!
Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She has over twenty years experience in bookkeeping, insurance and tax preparation. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”
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