(from genre expectations, that is!)
Last weekend I co-presented a workshop with YA fantasy author Grayson Towler at this year’s Colorado Gold Conference. #RMFW2015
Our topic was “Know Your Genres.” We covered a wide range of genres, and our general conclusion was–in a nutshell–that readers of genre are savvy. They already know what they expect to find in genre fiction. It’s probably not a good idea to make them throw the book against the wall in disappointment! The author needs to know those expectations in order to deliver the story that the readers want.
Here are some interesting points that came up during the mystery portion of our discussion:
- Publishers Weekly: The list of the top 25 mass market paperbacks in a recent issue showed 11 titles that fall into the mystery/suspense/thriller category. It’s pretty impressive that there are so many mystery readers, right?
The primary subcategories that further defined those 11 included:
- Suspense (2 titles)
- P.I. (2 titles)
- Police procedural (3 titles)
- Thrillers (3 titles)
- Humorous mystery (1 title)
2. “What’s the difference between suspense and mystery?” This question came up several times, not only in my workshop, but also throughout the conference. Here are some of the answers:
- Mystery is “whodunnit” and suspense is “howdunnit”
- Traditional mystery is about solving a puzzle
- Suspense is about pursuit and escape
- Jeffery Deaver, our kenote speaker, explained it best, imo: Mystery is all about the question “what happened?” and suspense is “what will happen?”
3. We discussed 10 different subgenres of mystery and expectations for each one (hard-boiled, police procedural, cozy, thrillers/espionage, suspense, amateur sleuth, private eye, historical, noir, and caper). Regardless of their differences, there is one expectation that all mystery subgenres hold in common: the ending must make order out of chaos.
Do you agree? How important do you think it is to meet those genre expectations?