February 24th, 2005

What makes a good story? The answer is different for everyone. For the past couple of days a discussion about writing has bopped back and forth between Sylvia Day and Alison Kent. Alison doesn’t consider herself a storyteller. She says she’s a writer. While Sylvia considers herself a storyteller first, then a writer. Mind you, I’m a big fan of both these women.

I don’t believe when it comes to getting words on paper it matters which category you are in. Everyone has a different approach to the craft. The results are the only thing you should be concerned with.

I suppose the reason I’m bringing this up is because I’ve noticed lately that there seems to be an uprising of categorization. (Spicy writer vs Tame, Storyteller vs Writer, Paranormal vs Contemporary etc.)

I know that’s not what Sylvia or Alison meant to do with their blog entries. They were genuinely curious about the different approaches to novel development. I just can’t help but be concerned.

It’s been my experience that when someone (insert generic person or group here) tries to categorize something they are attempting to place whatever it is in a ‘safe’ box. Nine times out of ten that box’s status is lower than where they view themselves. I have no doubt it’s human nature or at the very least deeply entrenched learned behavior. It just makes me very nervous when a group (insert appropriate name here) that claims to stand together insists on separating its members by categories.

6 comments to “Categories”

  1. A good story to me means excellent characters. The workings and agendas of characters keeps the story moving forward, makes up the momentum; and if an author writes some really great characters, I’m hooked. And essentially, great characters are rarely without a great story.

    I agree with the catagorizing of things. It’s what’s hurting the genre(whether it be catagory, paranormal,etc) because everyone is trying to make things “safe” as you said because the marketing PTB have pushed it onto us through back cover blurbs, through editors saying “if you want to interest me, read the books I’ve edited(essentially telling someone to write like their roster)”, and so on.

    And for every J.K. Rowling or Laurell K. Hamilton or L.A. Banks, there are tons more other authors who stick to the safe catagories because it feels better to be in a safe or comfort zone instead of stretching yourself into unknown but wistfully looked at “catagories”.

  2. Great post, Jordan. I also agree with the view on the categorizing of things going on. But I also admit I am guily of it as well. I tend to think of myself as an erotica writer, and when someone says something remotely derogatory about erotica, or even erotic romance, Itend ot get defensive. I hate that in myself, and I think if people would just judge each STORY on it’s own instead of trying to fit it into some box with others, then it wouldn’t bother me.

  3. Jordan I agree …I think it’s human nature to categorize in an attept to understand. What frustrates me is I can’t categorize myself.

  4. Excellent post, Jordan. I think you hit it on the head.

  5. Evangeline, It’s definitely a catch-22.

    Sasha, I agree. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

    Cece, I’m not sure what to do in that case. LOL! 😉

    Thanks, Chey!

  6. Cece brings up an excellent point–that it is human nature to categorize things and try to make sense of them. However, I have noticed what you’re talking about. I think the danger comes when people categorize others. That’s the divisive thing. As an example, in high school and college, I heard from several people that I was categorized as aloof. Some people judged me based on that and thought I believed I was better than other people, for instance. The truth is that I’m SHY. When I realized that I was an introvert, that going out like many of my friends did drained me, I learned a lot about myself. Categorizing myself this way helped me. OK, now I’m just babbling. My point is that I think categorizing others is very detrimental. I never have figured out the whole tame/spicy debate. I wish people would simply live and let live.