Sunday, July 27, 2008

Genre Blues

Spent this morning putting the finishing touches on my latest short story, "Dead and Buried," and trying to decide exactly where would be the best place to submit it. Maybe it's just me, but this genre stuff is confusing, because a lot of what I write can fit comfortably into more than one genre - several, usually - and if you look at it conversely, it doesn't really fit completely into any.

"Dead and Buried" is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The story was inspired by the cool Nickelback song, "Follow You Home," and if you're not familiar with the song, it tells the story of a dude so obsessed with a girl that he keeps on coming back, no matter what she does to him:

"Well you can stick me in a hole - And you can pray all day for rain - You can shoot me in the leg - Just to try to make me beg - And you can leave me there for days - And I'll stay alive - Just to follow you home."

In my story, the guy getting dumped on is a scorned husband who is killed in the middle of a desolate forest by his wife's lover but isn't quite ready to be dead. I don't want to give away the whole story because I'm hoping it will published somewhere, but it's part mystery, part noir, part horror, part pulp fiction.

So the obvious question is this: What the hell do I do with it? Most magazines are pretty specific about what they want from their contributions. Do I edit it and change it around to try to pigeonhole it into the one particular genre of the magazine to which I eventually choose to submit it?

Answer: No, I most certainly do not. I've tried cutting and slashing (no pun intended, I swear) a story to make it fit either length or genre format and it never seems to work. So I'm going to bite the bullet (again, no pun intended; sorry, I just can't seem to help it) and pick the most likely candidate and submit. And pray.

That's not to say I don't edit my work - I edit and rewrite and edit and rewrite so many times I sometimes feel like I'm using all that busy work as an excuse not to risk rejection by doing anything else with the material. But I can't see editing and drastically changing a story once I feel it's ready, just to suit a magazine that may come back and tell me it's not right for them anyway. Does that make sense?

In any event, there's a noir fiction ezine called Backalley that I'm leaning toward right now for "Dead and Buried," but don't quote me on that. I reserve the right to change my mind in the next day or two before I do the actual submitting. Maybe I'll just turn the whole thing into a lighthearted romp and submit it to Reader's Digest. Just kidding.

Here goes nothing.

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