A genre question...

I'm pretty sure that I don't have any regular readers who are agents, but I'd love it if I did, because I have a question.

What genre is my book?

This isn't a question I ever thought I'd ask. The world of my book is a pre-industrial empire with a bit of magic thrown in: half-human, half-animal shape-shifters, the ability to speak with thoughts, etc.  So I've always considered it a fantasy.

But it's also a mystery. The main character has to solve a murder in order to gain her freedom. And that goal is what moves the plot forward.

The question came up in my mind because I entered  a "what's your hook?" contest on an agent website a while back.  The agents were very helpful and gave everyone feedback, even the ones they didn't request. My feedback was that the concept was interesting, but there seemed to be a lot going on in my summary. Was it a fantasy or a mystery?

Hmmm.

Now I wonder if my query is too cluttered. Should I call it a fantasy, but focusing primarily on the murder-investigation part of the plot? Or should I continue to include the fantasy elements in the query itself? Or should I pitch it as mystery?

What do you think?

13 comments:

  1. There's not too much going on. I'd call it fantasy. A lot of fantasy involves solving a mystery--and the real mystery in your book is not who the killer is, but the protag's past. There are a lot of fantasy books out there, like that. If you want to send me your query, I can tell you whether or not it reflects the book I read. Of course, the book has changed since then...

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  2. Definately as a Fantasy. I'm no editor but I would imagine if one read your draft thinking it was going to be a Mystery, the moment shape-shifting and magic came into the picture a big giant Question mark would appear about their brow.

    -Rachel

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  3. Yeah, I'll agree with the others in calling it Fantasy. In my (very limited) experience, mysteries usually stay in the contemporary realm, with maybe a touch of paranormal or fantasy.

    But your book sounds very cool either way. :) Good luck!

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  4. Wow, thanks guys. This is very helpful! :)

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  5. I think a good guide for classifying genre is that 90% of the time, it's not what happens that locks a piece into a genre. It's the setting, the tone. If the atmosphere is fantasy, fantasy fans are the ones who will be shopping for it.

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  6. Yea, I'm with the others. Fantasy for sure. If you want, include "Pre-Industrial" Fantasy for good measure.

    But to keep it simple: Fantasy works for me. :D

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  7. I too struggle with that question.

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  8. Fantasy.

    Although, I'd def bring in the mystery plot in the query.

    Mine's a sci fi for teens that also heavily involved a murder mystery. I called it a YA sci fi--but I think it was the mystery part of the plot that helped distinguish it from others in the genre.

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  9. I think it's a fantasy too. I've read that some agents/publishers like stories that combine genres. So I think it's good yours is a fantasy and mystery. I agree with Beth that you'd call it a fantasy but spotlight the mystery elements in the query as well.

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  10. Thank you everyone for the great input! I have the best blog readers ever...

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  11. Mysterious fantasy? Fantastical mystery? Fantamyst? OK, I'm just making stuff up. But you could call it a mystery driven fantasy, or a fantasy based mystery. But I'd err that setting and characters determine genre more than plot.

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  12. I would totally buy a soda called Fantamyst! :)

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