Literary identity crisis: genres, tropes and ménages? Oh my!

Navigating the world of publishing as a newbie is pretty overwhelming. It’s taken me years to write, re-write, edit, polish, re-edit and polish (again) my book.

And now that I’ve dipped my toes into the world of publishing it feels a bit like standing on the edge and trying to psyche myself up to jump! It’s hard to put yourself out there creatively when you’ve been working  so long on a project. What if no one likes it? My books a romantic comedy, but what if  people laugh at my writing, not in a good way?

To add to my anxiety, as I’m looking for publishers and literary agents, I’m getting tripped up on some of the literary lingo. For example, what’s your genre? Well, it’s fiction. Yes, but what kind of fiction? Well, it’s about a girl who has just graduated university. Ok, then that makes it ‘new adult’ fiction.

I had to google it. “What is new adult fiction?”

To me ‘new adult’ sounded like erotic romance, which I unfortunately do not write (I say unfortunately because E.L. James has made a mint off the genre). New adult, I am told by the wise world of Google, is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18-30 age bracket. So now I know to classify my book as new adult romantic comedy.

Another term that confused me was trope. Trope? Not even Google could help me understand this one. I had to go to a expert for advice. I happen to know an individual who has a degree in creative writing, so she’s kind of an expert. The way she explained it to me is it means a stereotype, but in a good way. For example, ugly duckling becomes a swan, rich girl falls for boy from the wrong side of the tracks, boy and girl who hate each other realize they really love each other, girl who’s not looking for love falls head over heels, etc. None of these were my literary expert’s exact examples, but they help me remember what trope is — her example was much more highly intellectual, I just can’t remember it.

And the last most confusing term I still can’t quite wrap my head around is ménage. No, not ménage à trois. According to Merriam-Webster the definition of ménage is: a domestic establishment. Further research seems to indicate ménage refers to a group of people. So I’ve taken it to mean, who are your main characters? Thankfully I’ve only come across one publisher that asked me to define my ménage.

Got an example of a genre, trope or ménage? I’d love to hear it.