“To genre or not to genre? That is the question” by Kathryn Halton

I love crime fiction. It makes up about 90% of my reading material, and it’s what I write. Or at least, I thought it was. I had my crime novel all plotted out, with the culprit clearly identified, and plenty of red herrings and clues along the way. But when I sat down to write it, I felt stifled, trapped by my own meticulous planning. The meticulous planning that I had thought necessary in order to write a well crafted, plot hole-less crime novel.

Then I remembered an interview I’d read with Neil Gaiman, in which he’d addressed his writing process

“And when you’ve an idea – which is, after all, merely something to hold on to as you begin – what then?
Well, then you write. You put one word after another until it’s finished – whatever it is.
Sometimes it won’t work, or not in the way you first imagined. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Sometimes you throw it out and start again.”

So I scrapped my traditional, police procedural, plotted out crime novel, because I’d written a short story for my writers group, and the short story wouldn’t leave my head alone. As the novel began to take shape, and I just let the story tell itself, I began to wonder whether I was still writing a crime novel. And if not, what sort of novel was I writing? There was the disappearance of a young boy, the pimping out of rent boys, and the lynching of an old man. The police made brief appearances, but were by no means the stars. By the end of the novel, crimes would have been investigated, and hopefully, solved. But they weren’t the main focus of the novel. So when I’m ready to attempt to get it published, just exactly what am I pitching?

Then I read an article in The Observer, about the increase in women writing horror fiction, and came across a quote from Hammer publisher Selina Walker, who said that

The interesting fiction at the moment is playing with genres, slipping between them.”

So I’ve decided what genre my novel is – it’s no genre at all. It’s just a story. And I’ll leave it at that.