You know the kind of person who says they don’t like your favourite genre, even though they’ve never read it before? The kind of person who says, “Oh, that’s stupid. Why would anyone read it?” I’m sure you’ve met a few. I know I have. If you are one of those people, these answers are for you!
“Gay angel.” No, seriously. You’d be surprised what an uncommon word combination can do to intrigue someone. And it sums up my genre pretty well, I’d say – queer fantasy. One and done.
If someone is convinced that they don’t like genre x,y or z then it’s hard to convince them to try it. I’ve found the better approach is to find out what kind of stories a person enjoys (character driven, drama, romance, adventure, etc) without the label of genre attached, and then recommend a specific work that matches up nicely with that preference. Some people think that they don’t like “fantasy” but they absolutely love Greek mythology, for example. So I might recommend a sand & sandal epic that would appeal to them. Someone might say that they don’t like lots of magical “nonsense,” so I could recommend something that lowers the reader gently into magical elements, like A Song of Ice and Fire. Ultimately, I don’t worry about trying to be a fantasy/sci-fi evangelist. Not everyone is going to like it, even the really good stuff, because it’s just not their cup of hot steaming steeped leaves in water.
Do you find people interesting? I write about people. Sometimes those people are dealing with things in a science fiction environment, and sometimes as more of a fantasy world, but it all pretty much boils down to people making choices and interacting with one another.
This one’s difficult. Usually if someone tells me they don’t like sci fi or fantasy I let it be. There is an exception where I convinced my boyfriend to give Game of Thrones (the TV show, not the books) a chance based on the quality of the story alone. So I guess that’s my method. If I’m in love with the story, I’ll sell someone on that above its genre. (And despite not liking fantasy stories, he’s just as addicted to the show now as I am.)
I would tell them that there is more to children’s story than the simple plot. Often, there many underlying messages, lessons to be learned, and hidden meanings. The stories can often be interpreted so many different ways. The stories are short, but they can be full of intricacies.
Fantasy: Not Just An Escape! Read fantasy novels to see a reflection of our world, stripped of many of the divisive labels and visuals in order to present real conflicts and concerns from a fresh perspective! Like science fiction, fantasy can expound upon modern issues, taking them to a variety of logical or illogical conclusions — but unlike (most) science fiction, fantasy has dragons! Though much fantasy of the past has been regressive, in that it focused strongly upon European medieval themes, it has become far more expansive and inclusive in recent years, embracing all manner of settings and time periods as the basis for its flights of fancy. The time to start is now!
I would hope they wouldn’t need convincing. Science fiction is the history of the future. All of our hopes and dreams, and sometimes nightmares, reside there. The best of science fiction has subtle social commentary that transcends the ages. I recently reread Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel, and was surprised at how current some of the social commentary is.
I don’t specifically stick to one genre, but I’ll answer for the two genres that I write in the most often.
For horror, I’d explain that there is something very thrilling in writing about ghosts and ghouls and nightmare creatures. I’d describe how it’s both challenging and very fun to try to establish how each particular character reacts to different situations; for instance, one of my favorite scenes from “Nowhere to Hide” to write is the one in which Nancy is first actually faced with zombies. I loved describing the strange way her brain almost short-circuited – how she’d be freaking out one second and considering completely random, unimportant information the next.
For fantasy, I’d say that it’s all about good, old fashioned imagination. In a fantasy world you can do practically anything and everything. You don’t have to worry about being able to explain something scientifically, or describing real-life places accurately, or any of that nonsense. You can start completely from scratch and throw in whatever you damn-well please, and while you still have to consider whether what you’re doing is good for the story or not, that huge, blank pallet is something that is wonderful to be able to work with.
The only thing I can really think of is to point out something else that they like which does fall into the genre that they say they don’t read. However, this doesn’t actually convince people very often.
Oh, not sure I’d ever try this. And I write in two genres: Historical military fiction, and Sci Fi. If pressed, though, I’d speak to Sci Fi and I’d argue that Sci Fi will show you universes that you would never see otherwise.
At the moment I’m writing paranormal romance. I would say, perhaps, that romance is something almost anyone can relate to. The paranormal part of the genre I write in, however, might be impossible to convince someone who reads only practical text to enjoy. And what’s the use in reading something you don’t enjoy?
Fantasy and science fiction can offer readers many things. Of course, they can offer entertainment and escape to another world. But I think that’s what many critics of the genres think is what’s wrong with them. Well, they are actually quite intelligent genres. Science fiction usually deals with contemporary issues, such as racism, terrorism, war, climate change, and disease. It can show a possible consequence of our actions, and maybe offer a way to avoid it.
Fantasy, on the other hand, is an examination of the human condition. Much of the genre looks at human behaviour, especially when confronted by immense pressures. It looks at the dark side of humanity, and what we are capable of. It may provide a look into your own mind.
How about you?
What would you say to someone to convince them to read your genre? Let us know in the comments below.