Revision 04.1.01: Mainstream–Everyone’s Genre


Mainstream fiction can also be labeled domestic drama or family drama (when big or multi-volume, family saga). No outré or exotic elements of adventure or danger intrude on tales of ordinary life, though some characters may be eccentrics, abusers, addicts, and otherwise not mentally healthy. Comic, serious, tragic, or a mixture, it’s tales of contemporary people, whether urban or rural.

Regional fiction (usually of the US or Canada, which are large enough to have distinctive regions the size of European countries) usually falls into this category, where the particularities of the area form the basis of plot as well as characters. This mainstream soaks itself in the ambiance of the locale, like Southern fiction (Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes). It’s not just knowing what the popular restaurants or decor are, it’s describing a way of life that isn’t common to all areas.

Chick Lit falls here when the template is not the romance but the conquest of the job or family challenges. Chick Lit is often defined by its breezy attitude: more seriously done, career fiction is epitomized in young adult fiction with nursing fiction. Interestingly, almost all career fiction is written for women and girls. One can’t seriously count race car drivers, spies, and private detectives for boys of all ages. But the Forties and Fifties saw a huge flood of career fiction that gave women a chance to see what life was like for store managers, office managers, teachers, etc., when many young women had never personally well known a woman who was other than a housewife.

The autobiographical novel tweaks the author’s life to make better or tighter reading, so of course it usually falls into this genre, unless you’ve had an action/adventure life. If your autobi novel contains well-known people, to avoid lawsuits you may choose to disguise them lightly with changes in names and sometimes other elements. You then have the classic roman à clef, novel with a “key,” a code. Glitz novels can include romans à clef of the wealthy, famous, or notorious, or be true fiction. They always take place in the, um, glitzy worlds of great wealth and notoriety: society, Hollywood, the fashion world. These used to be called society fiction and, in its earliest form in the 1830s, silver fork novels.

Most glitz is read by and aimed at female readers, putting it in the large field of women’s fiction. This term can be decoded as “anything not a romance or specfi or histfi designed to appeal to a core range of female readers.” This may include relationship fiction (non-traditional romances or ones that don’t work out on the romance template like Bridges of Madison County), Chick Lit, and anything focused on women’s lives. However, it’s starting to include women’s action/adventure, which gets a bit confusing. So while it’s primarily relationship fiction and domestic drama, women’s fiction may be expanded by publisher choice to any book with a female protagonist and a primarily female audience.

3 responses »

  1. Pingback: Revision 02.1.1: Genres: Which Are Yours? | hollyiblogs

  2. Pingback: Revision Contemporary Romance Sub-genres | hollyiblogs

  3. Pingback: Revision 04.1.03: All the Shades of Romance | hollyiblogs

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