f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 4 of a Taxonomy of Writing – Order

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Day 4 of a Taxonomy of Writing – Order

This is where I make a confession. Sometimes in my search for something to write about I charge into things without a 100% understanding of where I’ll end up. We’ve reached that point in our taxonomic discussion. Actually that’s not quite true. I know where we’re going…but the problem is that where we’re going is simple familiar road. I’m not headed anywhere new—and I thought I would.

The next logical step in the taxonomy for novels seems to be this:

Kingdom – Prose
Phylum – Fiction
Class – Novel
Order - *Specific Genre*

This is where I thought I’d have more issues. So often we argue about how inadequate genres are to categorize books. And yet what step would come next?

Would you want your books categorized by POV?
Would you want your books categorized by character gender?
Would you want your books categorized by time period or setting?

Those classifications would be ridiculous at this point. So instead we are left with genre. Which we’ve talked about before and which I seem unable to escape.

Here again for those who missed my post of July 26 are my recognized genres.

CBA Fiction
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual

The question before us is: Is there any different and/or better way of grouping novels? Or to put it in other words, Does genre serve as our best classifying principle or is there something else we can look at?

My gut still says genre forces us down a path we’re not ready to trod yet.

And the problem is that in this list, those categories are talking about different things.

Westerns are defined by a setting. Mystery by plot structure. Romance by character. GLB, Christian, and Erotica are all defined by specific adjectival content. And then there’s the whole debacle of general of non-genre fiction. Genre simply does us no good in this spot. Do you see that? Doesn’t this seem to be the place where paths divide? Where books start getting labels that so often need to be shed?

I still think there’s a better way. Not sure what it is though. And since this has gone long I want one more day to think this through. We’ll revisit this split tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, please, please, please read the GQ article mentioned below. A few folks have already offered their praise of it. It’s really worth your time.