As soon as you tell someone (more than likely, a writer) you don’t write Literary Fiction, the conversation will go one of two ways: they’ll find it fascinating, or immediately dismiss any writing talent they thought you might’ve had.
Why does this happen? I’ve honestly no idea. It does seem to be most prevalent amongst fantasy and romance writers, though. You’re immediately dismissed as flippant and lacking in any real talent compared to if you write crime. I mean, there’s no real talent involved in crafting a rich fantasy world, or a heartfelt love story, right?
I’ve had to defend many friends that write fantasy against those that see it as a ‘lesser’ genre. Fantasy is hard to write, and that’s part of why I stopped—not only do you have to come up with the characters, the plot, and actually write it, but you also need to create a rich and consistent fantasy world that’s either a world in itself, or one that runs parallel with reality. Coming up with a plot for a crime novel is hard, but at least the basis is there. Creating a believable world from little to nothing to start you off is time-consuming and infuriating. Not only that, but you have to have a whole bunch of extra notes so that you remain consistent.
Some of my friends that write fantasy have their writing dismissed as ‘vampire fiction’ by those that decide they don’t like the genre before they’ve even read the piece. Because vampires, zombies, werewolves and witches are all interchangeable. And all vampire fiction is like Twilight.
Romance carries the most stigma of all. There are so many crappy romance novels out there that I try not to think about it. For every Marian Keyes there’s twenty poorly written novels with two-dimensional characters and a lack of plot covered up with lots of sex.
Romance is cheesy. Romance is cliche. Romance is boring.
These are all things that I’ve heard people say. And yes, it can be. But what’s really important is the characters and what the writer chooses to do with those characters. Sure, romance can be cheesy, but are you honestly telling me you’ve never said something cheesy to your partner? We’ve all done it at some point in our lives.
Unfortunately, fiction has to be more believable than real life. This is the difficulty that writers—especially genre writers—face.
So what do you do when you’re a genre writer being faced with prejudice?
Is it really that simple?
Well, it can be if you make it so.
The people who attack your work (and believe me, it will happen) are the ones that aren’t worth your time.The people who attack your genre writing aren't worth your time. Click To Tweet
They’re not your target audience, and they’re not your friends. Your target audience won’t immediately write off your novel without reading it, and your friends will support you whatever you write. Why waste your time defending your novel to someone who falls into neither category?
My favourite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is also relevant here—‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’
One thing I always remember from when I was at school is that at some point in my life, I was picked on for almost everything about who I was.
Except for being a writer.
Because it was the only thing I had any confidence in.
They couldn’t bully me about my writing because if they did, I’d stare at them blankly at walk away. Their words meant nothing to me because I knew most of them didn’t read, let alone bother to write a sentence dat wuznt wrtn lyk dis outside of school. That’s the kind of attitude you need when dealing with the genre haters. They’re not worth you wasting your time responding. Unless of course you can shut them down with a witty rejoinder, a la J.K.Rowling. If you can do that option, always do that option, because your genre hater might actually learn to grow up.
Although probably not.