Overdone genres…a myth?

Vampire female and maleI saw this topic mentioned on someone else’s blog and wanted to clarify my own thoughts on the matter.  That person’s topic was more specific to vampire books and it is a good example of a genre that gets a bad rap as being overdone.  Let me just say something now.  A genre is only overdone when it stops selling and no one wants to read it anymore.  Until that time, there’s always room for new ideas within it.  Maybe, the new twists on an old theme will never stop.  Who knows?

The reason most authors (except those just trying to jump in on a hype) choose to write in any popular genre is because they are fans of it themselves.  An idea hits them after reading numerous books and they feel it hasn’t been done in quite “that way” so they take it upon themselves to put it out there for general consumption.  They are writing what they couldn’t find anywhere else.  There is nothing wrong with exploring further into vampires, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, aliens, or whatever else strikes their fancy if that’s what the author wants to do.  Most of the time the genre and subject matter are clearly stated in the book’s summary.

Why anyone who is sick of vampires would buy a novel that has them in it is beyond me!

I’ve had an intense dislike of literary fiction for several years now.  It bores me to death and makes me want to bash my head into a wall no matter how good the author is.  I need paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi elements or at least some hot romance to make it interesting.  To me, we’ve had more than enough literary fiction over the centuries and all the good stuff has already been done.

But you know what?  Not everyone feels that way.  Lots of people still love to read it and want more.  So why should writers stop writing literary fiction just because I don’t want to see it?  They shouldn’t.  They should keep on doing their thing because most likely there are fans who will pick up their work.  I simply don’t look for or buy it myself and I’m a happy camper.  See how simple that is?  I don’t run around buying literary novels and then bashing them for existing because that would be stupid.

So if you don’t like a specific genre and think it’s overdone, I suppose free speech says you can shout it out to your heart’s content, but I’m personally sick of hearing about it.  Just get over your hatred and move on.  I’m going to say it now-  I LOVE VAMPIRES AND THE SUPERNATURAL!   I hope the genre lasts until my dying breath and beyond so I can keep reading it while I’m haunting the earth (or more specifically, the vampire haters).  The market clearly shows they are selling and that I am not alone in my feelings.

Do some books feel like they copied other popular ones? 

Sure, I’ll admit that.  Yet something worked for that first popular book and if people buy the next one that is similar to it, it is because they aren’t tired of it yet and want to see more.  Nothing wrong with that so long as they aren’t plagiarizing anyone.  God knows romance novels use the same plots over and over again, but they work for many readers so authors keep using them.  Does it hurt anything?  Not really.  So let’s get past the hating and just buy books that appeal to us.  You only sound like an idiot when you buy a novel just to trash the genre it was written in afterward.

Does anyone else get frustrated with seeing their favorite genres bashed?  Feel free to comment.  I know I feel better after this rant.

~ by Suzie on March 28, 2013.

41 Responses to “Overdone genres…a myth?”

  1. “A genre is only overdone when it stops selling and no one wants to read it anymore.” I agree with you, and even if the market decides it’s overdone, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing for a writer’s own pleasure or for a smaller fan base. Who knows, maybe that writer just does it better than it’s ever been done before. Besides, the creative process is based on a certain amount of borrowing/retelling, whether there are zombies in it or not. Should we stop writing altogether just because Shakespeare already did a version of it?

    (I use zombies because “zombie apocalypse” made it onto Time’s poll of words to banish in 2012 because of overuse; I wrote about it on my blog on Dec. 28, 2012).

    • Thanks for commenting, A.M.B. I do remember The Time’s saying zombies were overused and it probably was from your blog. I don’t comment much on there, but I have been reading your posts since last fall 🙂

      You make a valid point that even if there isn’t much of a market it shouldn’t mean an author can’t write in that genre. So long as it makes them happy, who cares? It’s not like its hurting anyone.

      • A perfect example of redoing something well is The Walking Dead. ‘Nuff said. That TV show has used a trope/genre everyone said is overused (zombies) and turned it around. Have you seen that show?

        • My husband likes to watch that show, but I couldn’t get into it. Lots of people seem to rave about it, though, so you are certainly not alone in your feelings.

  2. Sometimes you just have to say it.

    I see modern literary fiction every day and I think: “Why; you pontificating bore?” Much of it is extremely stylistic with little plot, and unless you can produce something of the classics (ok, hand going up for quite a lot of those here), just – don’t.

    I want to say I’m not into vampire stories; which would be a lie, since as a multi-genre writer, I’ve written at least one short story. And if something is well written; regardless of genre, well I’m reading it… The only writing competition I’ve ever entered, I saw a vampire story that I was sure would be the winner. It didn’t win, but the writer was offered a contract. Excellent.

    I’ve written a fantasy novel, ‘Sowing the Seeds’, which is deeply psychological and archaic. Someone came back to suggest that it was jumping on the erotica bandwagon. Firstly I’ve not read any of those books about…several variations of paint… and my story was initially written back in 2009. I stopped worrying after I realised that the person hadn’t read the full story, which is essentially about deep abiding love and sacrifice. Others meanwhile have praised it to the skies, and they’re not into any particular genre.

    I love sci-fi. But I hardly see anyone complaining about Robbie the Robot taking over the world – yet again! – because we’re all too incompetent to run it ourselves. Or the abductees who return with special powers; the secretly gifted groups of human beings located around the planet. Or, if you prefer, all in the US 😉

    And you’re right. Why read a book you already know you’re not going to like, just to thrash it?

    • JJ, I think that’s what gets me the most is the lack of a defined plot in literary fiction. The last book I read and enjoyed within the umbrella of the literary genre was “The Kite Runner” (and its sequel). Main reason I even gave those a chance was because I was heavy into studying that region of the world and I was in the military so it was a great way to get insight into the culture and history. Otherwise, I might not have appreciated them as much.

      The “jumping on the bandwagon” accusation does get old. I see people say that about authors a lot, but just because one book got popular doesn’t mean no one else can ever write in that genre again. Good grief. I was reading erotica/bdsm stories long before Fifty Shades of Nothingness came along. To be honest, I still haven’t read that trilogy because its premise doesn’t suit me. There are plenty of other books in the genre that do and that’s where my money is going. It’s nothing against E.L., though.

      There are people who bash sci-fi too, it just isn’t as loud or prevalent as it is for paranormal. I often wonder if the people criticizing vampires and zombies aren’t writers of other genres who are ticked off because their non-paranormal book isn’t selling as well. Their deep hate and love of leaving nasty comments on books saying they are overdone just seems like they are taking it a little too personal to me.

  3. I think it’s important to remember that the reasons why we like a certain book or genre or writer are as mysterious as the reasons why we fall in love with someone. There is a instinctive, visceral response. This means that it doesn’t matter if it’s the tenth book in a genre or the ten thousandth: if I like it, I’m reading it. When I’m done with that one, I’m ready for the next one.

    The same holds true if you like golf, football, or NASCAR. Seriously? Cars going real fast in a circle? Again? Didn’t we just do that last week? Of course we did. But trying to quantify fandom, and having others decide that the thing we are loyal fans of is tired or overdone? Never gonna happen.

    The essence of happiness is knowing what you like and doing just that. Depriving yourself because of the opinions of others is ridiculous. Unless it’s something like your cardiologist’s ceaseless rant opposing bacon, city ordinances against public indecency, or just plain common sense as it applies to alligator wrestling or snake handling. Reading or writing your favorite genre of fiction? Perfectly ok. I mean, no one’s getting arrested or going to the hospital over it…

    • Great examples, Stacey. I don’t get the Nascar thing either, but I am happy that it entertains some people. Everyone has different things that spark their interest. There is nothing wrong with that so long as it is legal and not hurting anyone. Why should they be made to feel guilty about it?

  4. I love the blog and these posts!
    NASCAR cars going fast in a circle – LOL! No one is going to persuade me to stop eating bacon and wrestling alligators either. 🙂
    At school, I was once advised to read ‘promiscuously’. That may not have sounded quite as it was intended, but I’ve always tried to approach any book in any genre without pre-conceptions. But when there is style at the expense of plot, for example, the book is out of balance. It is damaged.
    I know I will not persuade some people of this.
    In a discussion about a British TV show, I was exasperated by being repeatedly told that it was so good because of the atmosphere and nostalgia it portrayed. The lack of story was immaterial (Brideshead Revisited, in case you’re wondering). I suggested that meant they could watch just one episode, over and over again.
    “We do” they replied.
    I gave up. 🙂

    • I don’t suppose you have any videos of your alligator wrestling, do you Mark? Inquiring minds want to know.

      Lol about the TV show. I need a good plot too…even for romance novels.

  5. “The reason most authors (except those just trying to jump in on a hype) choose to write in any popular genre is because they are fans of it themselves.”

    This is SO TRUE! As a fan of dragons, I chose to write and spruce up the dragon genre because I wanted to do something no other dragon author has done: SPACE DRAGONS~! (And android vampires for the vampire fans).

    “An idea hits them after reading numerous books and they feel it hasn’t been done in quite “that way” so they take it upon themselves to put it out there for general consumption.”

    I agree with that, but I don’t read novels (we don’t get along with each other) so I just try and think super hard about something new that nobody has done (space dragons with spaceships, an empire with fantastic species, abuse towards dragons, Italian dragons falling in love, tackling touchy subjects with these dragons)

    “They are writing what they couldn’t find anywhere else. There is nothing wrong with exploring further into vampires, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, aliens, or whatever else strikes their fancy if that’s what the author wants to do.”

    Yup. Totally agree. As long as I love dragons, I’ll never give up my android dragons, vampire-wolf dragons, dragon shifters, Italian dragons and pony dragons~!

    Thank Jesus for the DRAGONS!!! I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!! I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!! I’ve been waiting for someone to make a post like this! I hope I don’t sound too fangirly.

    • I have a vague suspicion that you might like dragons, Rocket Dog. Just call it a hunch. It’s also very wise of you to love my blog–no need to worry on that count 🙂

      Admittedly, I prefer novels because I like to get good and lost in a story for about 6-8 hours. It gives me time to really know the characters and enjoy a complex plot. The only short stories I read these days are for my contests, but then I get a lot of say in what those are about so that helps. Anyway, the point is we all have our preferences and that’s what makes this world such an interesting place.

  6. Yeah, I agree. Write what makes you happy. If you are trying to chase someone else’s genre, you will wind up unhappy anyway.

  7. Totally agree. Thanks for a great post!

  8. If we all liked the same thing the world would be a boring place.

    If it isn’t vampires they’ll find something else to hate. They feed on hate and negativity like Vampires feed on blood.

    Thank you for this post. Well said. You were more polite and elegant than I usually am when something gets under my skin. And I agree with the other comments! About 6 months ago I wrote a shorter blog post on the same subject. Reminding folks that we all need the freedom to read and write what we want can’t be overdone!

    I have had a few haters since I came out with my Vampire parenting blog a year ago. And I wonder what makes these guys hate the idea of this so much. What is it to them? Does it make a difference in their lives? Do they hate the fact that Vampires guys get more chicks than they do? But for every hater I have hundreds of fans! So bite that Mr. Negativity!

    I feel that ANY genre is good if it gets people to read. And reading is for entertainment (at least for me). Sometimes I just don’t want or need to read some deep literary book. Sometimes I just need to relax and escape with a good story.

    Please all of you Vampire, Romance, Western, Science Fiction, Werewolves, Zombies, Paranormal, Mystery HATERS – go read in another room and get a f____ing life.

    • Honestly, I can’t understand this hatred for vmpires either, Juliette. It’s ridiculous and I think you’re right that jealousy may have a lot to do with it. Some people just can’t stand the idea that something they dislike is popular and for idiotic reasons think if they complain enough about it, it will go away. Fat chance of that!

      I agree that no matter the genre, if it gets people to read than that’s a wonderul thing. With so much technology to distract us, less and less people are taking the time to read a book. It’s sad. Heck, I’d rather they read Fifty Shades of you know what than nothing at all. It could be a gateway to them wanting more.

      As for your blog, it’s great and fun. Never let the haters discourage you. I certainly appreciate what you’re writing!

      • People are reading less? Really? Maybe short stories could keep people afloat on the reading train? I think people hate vampires a lot because they wish they had it first or maybe they are jealous.

        • For those with short attention spans I think short stories are definitely a way to get them reading. Good point!

          • Yup~! I am trying to move up to novels so I can red them like everyone else, but I always give up after the first few pages (page 7 in the Hunger Games, page 47 in The Passage). The only novel I ever finished was Ravens by George Dawes Green. I haven’t read one since then. I guess you have to find the right novel that connects with you. Ironically, I can’t read a novel but I wrote one near the end of NaNoWriMo last year after trying and trying tirelessly over the years. I have to remember to enter your contest.

          • Keep trying, Rocket. I have faith you’ll get there. In the meantime, you should write a story for my contest. We could use some more good stories and there’s only until tomorrow night to get them in!

          • Oyyyyy. I missed the contest (I lost track of time), but I’d like to show you my story anyway. Is there a place where I can post it for you and your judge friends to see it?

          • You can post it on the Monthly Writing Contest Page if you’d like. I’ll be sure to read it, but it will be up to the judges as to whether they want to look at it or not. I can only ask them to look at the ones that posted on the March contest post. Sorry you didn’t make it in time. We could have used another entry.

  9. A lot of what we consider classical literature was written to be popular in its day. Most of what Shakespeare wrote had already been overdone, but we remember him because he did it better than the many that had done it before him.

    Sure, the easier it is to publish the more dreck there will be out there. But that makes it harder to find the wheat among the chaff, it doesn’t invalidate your taste. Call me a snob, but it seems to me that reading, even dreck, beats watching dreck on television. It certainly beats amusing yourself by torturing small animals. Whatever the genre, amusing yourself reading is harmless to everyone else, so they have no reason to judge you. Whatever floats your boat!

  10. By the way … your taste may change over the years. I know that’s hard to imagine at your young age, but it’s funny what the years will do to your interests …

  11. I think what is overdone is ‘badly written anything in any genre’. As long as the work has an original take on any subject, it has a place and a space all its own. Readers want what interests them, not what publishers tell them is popular. Nice post!

    • That is the tricky part, though, Renee. Everyone’s definition of “badly written” is different. There have been multiple novels I found through Amazon with dozens of five star reviews where people raved about the book and I saw it was selling extremely well. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what they saw in it. Then I’ve found books I absolutely love and see them get some one and two star reviews. Usually my thinking is in line with the majority, but the point is reading is very subjective as to what is good or not good. Lots of people are still scratching their heads over the Fifty Shades phenomenon.

      I must agree with you that if the author gives their own take and does all they can to make it the best book possible, that is the most important thing. One can only hope the right readers will find it.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  12. Fantastic post, and I absolutely agree! I think unfortunately it’s human nature to bash things they don’t understand. I read very eclectic genres, and in the last 10 years I gravitated towards all thinks paranormal. Before that I read HR absolutely non-stop, and I have no desire to get back to literary fiction unless it’s a historical. I also read erotica, and it always amuses me how people cringe if you discuss you literary taste in front of them if they only ever read literary fiction and just don’t like the idea of anything else. It’s those pre-concieved notions that drive me up the wall… 😦

    • Yep, exactly, Karina. I have never understood bashing genres you don’t like. For years I read historical romance and it really made me want to learn more history because of it. Even with paranormal there are so many nuances to it that a lot of people don’t realize. You can learn lessons and get insights into life no matter the genre. It’s just that vampires, werewolves, etc make it more entertaining than when it’s just our plain old every day world.

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