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Genre Niches

Dreamed 2008/4/17 by Wayan

A friend tells me of a pattern she sees in literary genres. "The best-selling author in a genre usually writes either a simple pop version--schlock--or humor, parodying the schlock. Either way, it's broadly entertaining stuff anyone can get. Second best-selling: a creative eccentric who violates every rule of the genre and only gets crammed into it by marketers, for their convenience. Third: a master of the genre's tropes--doing on a highbrow level all that the #1 schlockmeister does lowbrow and #2 ignores. The exact order varies, but you'll normally find these three clustered near the top...

"They aren't personalities: they're NICHES."

I think about the genres I know. How about fantasy. JK Rowling would be the pop figure--the world's only billionaire author. Though she got more serious, the Harry Potter craze arose from the broad humor of the early books. #2 might be Neil Gaiman, using fantasy tropes for his own kooky purposes; and Terry Pratchett is a mix of 1 and 2--eccentric humor but with serious overtones. Then you get a cluster of serious people--Tolkien, Le Guin, Peter Beagle, Patricia McKillip, Diana Wynne Jones--masters who DO use fantasy tropes--thoughtfully. And make a living, even if they're not rich.

"So there's no wrong way!" I blurt. "Many approaches will work."

And I wake.


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