I recently applied to a contest that asked, as part of the upload, what the genre of my novel is. I answered dutifully, Thriller.
Yes, I know that the judges have to have some way to classify submissions, and I have just read a bit about plot, timing of events, when backstory is best introduced, and so on.
Problem is, I am reading Redemption, a fine story of New Orleans by Frederick Turner. I have studied New Orleans music and give presentations about it. Turner creates 1913 New Orleans – Storyville in particular – with such skill that you swear you’re there in that so steam, seamy, funky place right along with his protagonist Fast-Mail Muldoon. When you read his descriptions, highly articulated, precise, and unafraid to use a full vocabulary, you think “Literary Fiction.” Turner doesn’t mind taking a healthy paragraph to describe the quality of the mud on the banks of the Mississippi or a chapter to let Fast-Mail Muldoon ponder lost love. But if Turner were to submit to my contest, Redemption’s genre would be Historical Fiction/Suspense.
Just a reminder for me that fiction writing is story-telling. Storytelling is about language; thus all fiction ought to be “literary,” and the whole point of telling a story is having a compelling plot.
Perhaps a banal observation, but I’m relatively new to the business side of writing. It’s easy to get lost in trade arcana.