Genre tips

#AtoZChallenge: Genres–Family Saga

The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 articles on a themed topic. It’s supposed to be every day except Sundays during the month of April but I find that too busy and decided to post mine ‘about’ once a month. Yes, it’ll take me a couple of years. Sigh.

My topic, like the last three times, will be writing genres.

This genre:

Family Saga


chronicles the lives and doings of a family or interconnected families over a period of time

Tipsa to z

80% of bestsellers used to be family saga so take these tips seriously!

  1. The family can be any type but must have passions and experience making/losing fortunes.
  2. The family at the center of the story is best to be in crisis–about to explode or implode.
  3. You should cover two generations at least.
  4. Most family sagas center around a strong female matriarch.
  5. Best to include love–lost or found or both but since the majority of readers are female, this is a good idea.
  6. And, the love interest is probably forbidden for some reason.
  7. Family sagas can be a subgenre of almost any genre–historical fiction, sci fi, whatever. Just be sure to include the elements within the genre framework.
  8. A family saga must include everything from birth to death and in between.

Popular Books

The linked books were recommended by readers:

  1. Eclipse Lake by Mae Clair
  2. Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary by Liesbet Collaert
  3. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. The Sister Pact by Jacqui Biggar
  5. Swiss Chocolate trilogy by Martha Reynolds
  6. Tiger Tail Soup by Nicki Chen
  7. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  8. Evergreen by Belva Plain
  9. Roots by Alex Haley
  10. Dune by Frank Herbert

BTW: If the book you’ve written fits into any of these genres, let me know in the comments and I’ll include you, the book title, and where to purchase it.

Click for complete list of these 26 genres

Click for a complete list of all genres I’ve written about

More F Genres:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers as well as the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She has written over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021. 

104 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: Genres–Family Saga

  1. I wonder what the percentage of family sagas are bestselling books now. Do you think the reduction is simply related to fewer books written in this genre as authors see a change in what’s more popular?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a huge genre that encompasses so much. I think John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” could be included in this category. I loved the Flowers in the Attic series! Thanks for sharing, Jacqui.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for your list of reading suggestions on Family Sagas. I published a historical novel for my family based on decades of genealogy research but your post today raised thoughts about a more focused story – an interesting new project for me to develop!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, Stacy mentioned the Kent Family Chronicles by John Jakes and I loved them too. Also our friend Jay Cudney wrote the Father Figure and Watching Glass Shatter novels that are really good family sagas.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are building a rich resource, Jacqui, A-Z by A-Z! Somewhere in looking at your site this morning I saw “Quiet Memoirs.” That brought to mind J.Q. Rose’s “Growing a Dream.” I loved Liesbet’s memoir. My mind is still scrambled, but if I think of some books, I’ll let you know. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jacqui, great points what makes a family drama! This is a genre I often return to for ‘comfort’ reading and have read five on the list already! I wonder if they still make up 80% of bestsellers or have they been overtaken by thrillers?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Five of them–this is your genre, Annika. I think it was thrillers that took over. There are a lot of similarities between the two with the drama and the energy but one is about characters and the other plot. Both good!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “The love interest is forbidden for some reason.” Isn’t this always the case? There’s no story if love is easy.
    Great description of family saga, Jacqui. My favorite is probably the Poldark series – and Gone With the Wind, even with its flaws. But then, we’re all flawed and that’s what makes people and stories interesting as well – right?
    I always enjoy reading your A to Z entries – you do this topic so well.
    I think I should go make myself interesting. Oh wait….

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Family sagas are the best! I’ve seen VC Andrews mentioned by some others in the comments here, and the Flowers in the Attic series was what came to mind when I was reading your article.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. James Mitchner is one of my favorite historical fiction authors. He wrote, “Texas”. I read the novel in 1986 when I moved to the Lone Star State. The story is about the families who founded the Republic then state of Texas. I learned how and why the people of Texas as so fierce about who they are. The United State of America is founded on the cowboy myth created with cattle drives and heroes of the west. When I travel and tell people I am from Texas they want to know more.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Texas has a low cost of living and no state or corporate taxes. There are five climates with the Gulf of Mexico to the south, mountains to the west, desert to the north, and wide open spaces for travel. Dallas, Austin and San Antonio have lots to do with delicious restaurants of all kinds. People of Texas love their families. Come visit sometime, Texas means “friend”.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I had never really thoughts about this genre, but some of the best historical fiction would fall into this genre. Examples I am thinking of include Thomas Bell’s “Out of this Furnace” which tells of three generations of families in the steel mills outside of Pittsburgh (Homestead and Braddock), and Pearl Buck’s “The Living Reed” which tells the history of Korea through three generations of a family (up to the Korean War). Another variation on this theme would be Verlyn Kinkenborg’s “The Last Fine Time” which starts as a family saga told through a Polish tavern in Buffalo NY. But it really tells the history of Buffalo through the eyes of the bar (as the neighbors change)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I love family sagas. Thanks so much for including Eclipse Lake on your list.

    I remember reading the Flowers in the Attic books back in the day, as well as the first four in the Kent Family Chronicles. I would love to have a series like that to devour again!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thanks for including “Plunge,” Jacqui. While it was never my intention to write a family saga, all the ”ingredients” you mention above are somehow incorporated in my travel memoir. First I thought, hm, at least two generations need to be mentioned, while I focus on the relationship with my husband and our family of two humans and two dogs. But then I realized my parents and oma are part of the story as well. Done! 🙂

    Great examples. Family sagas are intriguing reads…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. When I was in junior high, my sister had just finished reading The Kent Family Chronicles (also called the Bicentennial Series) by John Jakes, so I read them. I’d probably get more out of them now, as I’m sure I didn’t fully understand the complexities of the war parts then. That’s the only family saga I ever read, and I really enjoyed it, but it was patriarchal, so it doesn’t really fit your definition fully.

    I read and loved Mae’s Eclipse Lake. It’s one book, so I wouldn’t call it a saga. But it was wonderful.

    I saw someone mention VC Andrews. If you count that, I read that and liked it. But I thought that was all pretty much Catherine’s story, though three generations were in the books. (My memory is foggy on that one, though.)

    Sorry this comment ran long. Anyway, great post, Jacqui. Now I kind of want to find a proper family saga to read. I wish Anne Rivers Siddons wrote one. Her family dramas were great. I bet she’d write a wonderful saga.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I forgot about John Jakes. What an author.

      I did include any book the author asked me to. I didn’t try to judge or discriminate. Some I haven’t read but plan to. Thankfully, since this is my opinion blog, I’m allowed to do that!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Like Ankur, the first book I thought of was One Hundred Years of Solitude. I love this genre, The Thorn Birds being my favourite. Plunge doesn´t seem to fit, although it is a great book. It is more memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have read a few family sagas. Sometimes they require successive novels to complete the story.
    I was surprised to see Plunge on the list. I haven’t finished it yet, but I wouldn’t have placed it in that category. What am I missing?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Jacqui – this covers a huge subject … so many to entice. I know a few of the ones you mention … I’ve an Isobel Allende book here to read – so must do that first and then perhaps The House of Spirits (that apparently falls into your genre) … and the Michener books … so many to read! Thanks for this Genre choice – fascinating for so many of us. Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Nothing like a cross-generational family saga for the dull days of lockdown. Unfortunately my exposure to this genre is mostly in the form of TV serials, not books. Hopefully will rectify this gap at some point. Actually wondering if ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ would qualify.

    Liked by 3 people

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