Match the Genre Answers

Yesterday I posted a Match the Genre task. I have heard that your first sentence should scream genre. The object was to match the first sentence of some Best Seller Top Ten novels to their respective genre.

My conclusion is that this might be more myth than rule. It may be true for certain genre, but not all.

Here is the key:

  1. Paranormal Romance, B. “Women have always been the property of men.” Given to the Pack, Abby Weeks
  2. Fantasy, D. “It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.” Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
  3. Horror, F. “In one way, at least, our lives really are like movies.” Revival, Stephen King
  4. Mystery, H. “Midnight fell at The First Bank of Cleveland with the lonely clang of the great clock in the lobby.” The Dead Key, D.M. Pulley
  5. Science Fiction, E. “Karl Selig steadied himself on the ship’s rail and peered through the binoculars at the massive iceberg.” The Atlantis Gene, A.G. Riddle
  6. Historical Fiction, A. “I believe in ghosts.” Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline
  7. Crime Fiction, G. “Zoe recoiled from the nightmare only to find it still existed in the waking world.” The One That Got Away, Simon Wood
  8. Romance, C. “That fucking prick.” Prick: A Step-Brother Romance, Sabrina Paige

Certainly you could have switched the Historical Fiction and Science Fiction around. I could see the Crime Fiction one as Horror. I might have made the Mystery one as Historical Fiction (After all who hears a grand clock chime in contemporary times?).  Paranormal Romance and Fantasy I might have expected, but “That fucking prick,” doesn’t sound very Romantic. Nothing much Horrific about Stephen King’s opening line.

I went back online to see some more Crime Fiction, because Crime Fiction, Horror and Mystery can be so close. Here’s what I found in some other novels in the Top Ten:

“Lori Kimball had three rules for the death race home.”

“There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks.”

“Five figures formed a pentagram around a freshly dug mound.”

“In April 2008, Neal Lagiudice finally subpoenaed me to appear before the grand jury.”

“After his arrest at Galaxy’s casino, Billy was handcuffed and transported to the Clark County Detention Center, where he sat chained to a chair while a knuckle-dragging deputy two-finger-typed the charges against him into a desktop.”

“Six years ago, my band’s bassist was shot dead in a New York night club.”

 “Patrick sat alone.”

“’You just got out of jail?’”

“Arnie Milhouse never considered himself much of a hero.”

Running through most of these I could see Crime Fiction, but I don’t think but one or two actually screamed to me. Not like the Odd Thomas book screams paranormal suspense:

“Alone in the vastness of the Mojave, at two o’clock in the morning, racing along at seventy miles per hour, I felt safe and believed that whatever terror might await me was yet many miles ahead.”

Do you struggle with your first sentence?

Just write it until you get it right!

35 thoughts on “Match the Genre Answers

  1. Do I struggle with my first sentence – Yes!

    Clever pair of posts. Hard to guess . . . . By the way, my first-grade grandson Ian is learning about genres in writing. Really? I asked. He’s in advanced classes, but I don’t think I knew about genres until high school, if then.

    • It wasn’t easy. Chris commented yesterday that name branded big-time authors who were known for their genre really don’t have to put it up front for marketing purposes, which is why some of these didn’t bother. Being a virtual unknown, maybe it wouldn’t hurt if I at least tried.

  2. The only one I would have guessed right was the romance. Like you said a weird opening for a romance novel, but I figured the heroine was seriously ticked. First lines are hard, but I find last lines just as hard if not more so!

      • Still, yours was an interesting and eye-opening post. I’d never heard about the first sentence not only hooking but fitting the genre. Wait! I think I get it. All it means is it speaks the language of the genre. Wait! I believe you already went through that… o_O

  3. I don’t think I got any of them! I’m surprised though that “Outlander” is considered fantasy. It seems more of a historical (romantic) fiction to me. I probably still wouldn’t have guessed it though. 🙂 I still think the most important thing about the first sentence is that it makes you want to read the next sentence and the next. . .

  4. What an interesting post! That first sentence is the hook that often drags the reader into the story. It’s important to have a good one. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

    Charles Dickens had a knack for first sentences. “Marley was dead, to begin with.”

    “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

    (‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and ‘David Copperfield.’ I suppose ‘A Christmas Carol’ might be deemed fantasy; ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ historical fiction; what about ‘David Copperfield’?)

  5. What a great idea, SK! I’m sorry I missed taking the test :). I had never heard that, but it sounds like one of those “have tos” that circulate around about writing. That fucking prick one, though, could be romantic–depending on how you like your romance hahaha. All this genre hair splitting wears me out, I swear. But then I do get picky with my genres with movies. I like cheesy disaster movies and sometimes “they” try to slip in a sci fi or a horror–and I get really irritated. I like sci fi, but I want to know it’s sci fi and not think I’m getting a disaster flick.

Share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s