I got into a war of words with one of my friends recently.
We know my stance on how too many liberties are taken when people write historical fiction. They take facts and twist them to fit their narrative. Or, they populate their novels with 21st century characters with 21st century ideals while they set their novels in other time periods…
My friend J disagrees. J argues that fiction is fiction and an author of fiction is entitled to write anything that they want because it is…fiction…
J argues that instead of complaining about the things listed as historical fiction, just stop using the term historical fiction…
And J has a point…
When we label things, we go in with a set notion as to how something is, or is going to be…
Now this makes sense when you want to labels bins for storage, or label your guest towels like Monica…
But when it comes to other things, should we be so quick to define something, to put it in it’s little box and say this is what it is…?
Should we let some things just be?
I just googled “Categories of Fiction books”. Do you know how many subcategories came up?
- science fiction
- fiction (why bother with this one- I mean- what’s left?)
- science fantasy
- magical realism
- fairy tale
- paranormal romance
I’m sure if I tried something different I would probably get even more categories….
Do we need this many separate genres of fiction?
Do we need to have this many labels?
Do these tags help you decide on a book? or is it just needless categorizing?
If something is tagged one of these genres and it doesn’t meet your expectations, are you going to be a harsher judge than if it was just labeled fiction?
Instead of sub genres, should things just be labeled as to content? Like, a list of possible trigger warnings?
Should the first page of a book say:
How do we manage our expectations when confronted with label upon label upon label?