There Are Two Genres

A lot of people – both readers and writers – get hung up on genre.

We get hung up on fiction vs non-fiction, screenplay vs stage play, lyric vs poem.

And yet we tend to know good stuff when we read/hear/watch it.

Sometimes literary work is great to read. And sometimes a pulp crime novel is just what you need to read.

I think there are two genres only.

They are:

  1. Well written.
  2. Poorly written.

When something is well written, it uses the right words to convey the right meaning.

As a writer, you know that when you write more, the right words come more often.

Good writing is good listening. Julia Cameron, in “The Right to Write”, says:

One of the smartest things I ever learned about writing is the importance of a sense of direction. Writing is about getting something down, not about thinking something up.

We get things down by listening. And then getting out of the way.

So there’s another way to think of two genres: writing that comes from listening and writing that comes from talking loudly through what’s trying to get out.

I know which writing I prefer to read.

What about you?


  1. […] defining books by genre thing, you inevitably piss someone off by getting the genre wrong. And I hate genre definitions […]

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