The Design of Genres
The design of genres is meant to showcase what each has to offer the reader as well as the writer. Each genre has its own set of expectations. Rules, if you like. You can follow them or break them to a degree but you’d better know the why behind each. It’s like when you begin that new book. You don’t expect to find a herring (mystery clue) in a romance, for example. And, if you do, you need to explain how that came to be.
Just like, if you set off in a train under a golden sunset and ended up awakening to a traveling wagon train in the 1800s, you might want to check what you know. Things like that don’t happen in the normal world. Ah, but in fiction, they do. It’s merely how you bring things about. You can take the straight path, or you can simply drive off the cliff.
That’s what excites readers: the unexpected. No, boring holes for them. They have to be occupied by a hobbit. Or a village. That skyline on the horizon? It must be dotted with witches and their wyverns. Or even to bring it down to a normal world: something we haven’t seen before or at least, not on a usual basis, has to occur. It can be a St. Bernard on a hot day when we stop by to service our car with our son. Or the crest of a fin in the water.
Every genre relays its foundations on what’s gone before. And then stays on the same page or defers. No two stories are the same though. Even on a calm day, the same sidewalk can be shared by different people on their own adventure. One might be going to buy an orange kitten who loves the taste of lasagna. Another might be off to Scotland on a writer’s retreat and discover there’s more to the people and the land than its history.
Some writers groan about genres stifling them with boundaries. I say there are no boundaries, if you think about it. Dragons can be brought into any era. Aliens into any environment. Humans can walk among the stars or tread the depths of the oceans. Black holes puncture the atmosphere for a reason. You just have to figure out what that reason is. And make use of it.
Even if you’re in a “normal” world, there can still be frills. Not all bank robberies go according to plan. Construction sites get botched. Subways become a hazard. Maybe it’s the weather. Or just a villain that enters the fray. Anything can happen in any genre. You just have to use your imagination. Think about what would’ve happened if those children hadn’t explored that closet at their uncle’s house. No Terabithia.
If Harry hadn’t gone to Hogwarts, what would’ve ended up happening to the Wizard World? There’d be no Twilight if Bella hadn’t gone to Forks. But you say, it had to be that way. For that story, sure. But there are other stories. Other solutions. The boy doesn’t always get the girl. Unicorns exist somewhere. And fairies can be devious individuals. It’s all about perspective. The design of genres can take you anywhere from Walton’s Mountain to the moons of Alderaan.
Happenings: This week I suffered through something I wonder if a lot of other disabled individuals do as well. That is, the feeling of being “useless.” Now, my daughter and son were quick to assure me it wasn’t true but I just felt like I couldn’t do the number of things I did say ten, or twenty years ago or even to the quality of such. My mobility has become a real issue for me and tbh, I have a secret fear of losing the loss of my legs or hands altogether. They sometimes feel so numb and unable to respond to what I want them to do. Anyway, I wondered if others shared these helpless emotions and worried about them? I mean, I don’t know where my life’s headed. I could end up in a nursing home in the future, unable to care for myself. I always thought that getting dementia or Alzheimer’s would be my greatest fear but now I wonder if it might not be, loss of mobility or even God forbid, amputation of limbs. Depending on someone would be very hard for me. I’ve had to depend on myself for so long, the idea seems preposterous. It’s odd the things we consider. I know I could still write. V.C. Andrews was very successful even though she was paralyzed. I’m sure there have been others. Even when I fall now, it’s hard for me to let someone help me up. I don’t know why accepting help stresses me. Unless it’s part of the PTSD I suffered for years.
Some links around the web I found interesting and you might as well:
- Writers Helping Writers https://writershelpingwriters.net/2023/01/writing-insecure-characters/ All successful novels, no matter what genre, have one thing in common: emotion. It lies at the core of every character’s decision, action, and word, all of which drive the story. Without emotion, a character’s personal journey is pointless. Stakes cease to exist. The plot line becomes a dry riverbed of meaningless events that no reader will take time to read. Why? Because above all else, readers pick up a book to have an emotional experience. But they don’t want to be told how a character feels; they want to experience the emotion for themselves. To make this happen, we must ensure that our characters express their feelings in ways that are both recognizable and compelling to read. How we convey a character’s emotional state is vital to the reader’s experience. They don’t want to be bashed over the head with this information, nor do they appreciate clunky methods that jerk them out of the story. This is where show-don’t-tell comes into play. Show the character’s emotion through their natural responses to it, and readers will figure it out on their own. Use universal responses, and you’ll have the added benefit of readers connecting to the character through a sense of shared experience. I often think of the Writer’s Digest Book, “Open Your Veins.” It says a lot. Let that emotion bleed down on the page. Become the character until you’re done for the day and then pick up that yoke again the next and the next until you’ve got a book and edits begin.
- Life in the Realm of Fantasy https://conniejjasperson.com/2023/01/11/the-business-side-of-the-business-managing-inventory-writerlife/ Authors make readers when they do in-person book signings. We have the chance to connect with potential readers on a personal level, and they might buy a paper book. If we are personable and friendly, they might tell their friends how much they liked meeting us. Those friends will buy eBooks. (We hope!) Most shows and events will require you to have a business license if you intend to sell books in person. This means you will have a small amount of paperwork after each in-person signing, so I am revisiting a post from 2022 detailing how authors can manage an inventory of books and have the right numbers for tax purposes. For eBook sales, you have no obligation to report sales taxes, only your royalties as listed on the 1099 issued by Amazon or Draft2Digital, or other eBook sellers. Whether you are traditionally published or indie, if you intend to make personal appearances at local bookstores, fairs, or conventions, you will have an inventory of books on hand to manage and account for at the end of the year. But more importantly, even if you are traditionally published, you pay for the books you sell at shows. The good businessperson has a spreadsheet of some sort to account for this side of the business, as it will be part of your annual business tax report. An excellent method for assembling the information you will generate for your tax report is discussed the previous post, The Business Sequence for Writers. Ellen King Rice has given us a great framework for keeping our business records straight. This is an important part of the writing business. She simplifies what you might keep on file for your tax purposes, Indie or traditional.
- Robbie’s Inspiration https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2023/01/11/growing-bookworms-teaching-children-about-nature-and-conservation/ Teaching our children about the natural environment and conservation is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. There are a few good ways of making sharing about nature and conservation with children, as follows: Reading books about nature with your child; Exploring nature with your child; Art and play; and Watching documentaries Teaching young readers to read is close to my heart as my son struggled with reading at a young age and his school admitted that they failed to help him in this regard.
- Writers in the Storm https://writersinthestormblog.com/2023/01/the-importance-of-great-mentors-for-you-and-your-books/ All of us here at Writers In the Storm know that veteran-WITS contributor, Julie Glover, is both funny and wise. She and I were talking about the importance of mentors and she made this observation: “Being storytellers, we’re likely all fans of a good mentor. Where would Harry Potter be without Dumbledore? Wilbur without Charlotte? Peter Parker without Uncle Ben? Cinderella without her fairy godmother?” She’s got a great point. Even though it seems like the mentors always die or disappear in every genre except romance (where they get their own book in the series), we never forget a great mentor. I mean, come on…what would Star Wars be without Obi Wan, or Yoda? A lot of the ladies at YAFF taught me things I didn’t want to learn at first. As did my first few cps, Steve and Pat. They both taught me to love the story for the story and the YAFF ladies helped me to whip things into shape. I had some bad ones in between but that happens to everyone. I also had a lovely cp, Lisa, who helped me with my romances. I continue to work with Rebecca, Barb, and Pen on occasion.
- Tel Aviv Feral Cats https://telavivsferalcats.home.blog/2023/01/12/cute-feral-cat-with-huge-eyes/ It’s not easy to shoot a video of feral cats, but I was walking back from my brother’s apartment, which is maybe five minutes walk from my building, and there was this cat with extremely expressive eyes, and two cute kittens up on the windowsills, and I had to try. A lot of people don’t consider how those feral cats ended on the street: some careless person didn’t fix their pets and they multiplied and the results were carelessly tossed out. Ferals can be rehabilitated. I have a tiger cat that was on the streets till he was six months old.
- Story Empire Blog https://storyempire.com/2023/01/13/birth-order-and-character-development/ When we craft our characters, many of us include comments about their placement in the family. We attach traits we’ve experienced with siblings or others close to us. I will explore some of those traits in my posts over the next several months. Full disclosure, birth order theory is somewhat controversial because, in and of itself, it is not a determinant of someone’s personality. Many other factors include genetics, physical environment, gender, culture, family trauma, and much more. Still, birth order offers writers a tool for developing their characters. For that reason, in the next posts, I will focus on the traits of the (1) first-born, (2) the middle-born, (3) the last-born, and (4) the only child. I leave you with a curious detail. Per the research, if there’s an age difference of three or more years between siblings, the birth order restarts. Given this tidbit, each of my four children is an “only” child. Between my eldest and my next child, there are seven years. Then there are five years between the next, and three and a half years between the final two. No wonder I had my hands full, right? Just for fun consider these three sets of accomplished men and women: I definitely think birth order plays a part in who we are in life. I’m a second to the last child. I missed the middle by one. My oldest sister got most of the responsibility put on her shoulders all these years. I didn’t get away with a lot like some might think of a younger child. In fact, I was the first to go to college in my family then my older sister tried her hand. I respect her for trying to make her life better and not giving up on things. I’m a lot like that. I push for the things I want and don’t give up easily. I’m also more open to change than some in my family as I educated myself to think for myself in a lot of instances. Reading and writing, I think, allows you to accept unpopular opinions and come to respect other’s opinions on things.
- Books and Such https://teripolen.com/2023/01/13/blogtour-a-tale-of-two-princes-by-eric-geron-bookreview-romcom-lgbtq/ Will these long-lost twin princes be able to take on high school, coming out, and coronations together—or will this royal reunion quickly become a royal mess? Edward Dinnissen, Crown Prince of Canada, loves getting the royal treatment at his exclusive Manhattan private school and living in a fancy mansion on Park Avenue. But despite living a royal life of luxury, Edward is unsure how to tell his parents, his expectant country, and his adoring fans that he’s gay. Billy Boone couldn’t be happier: he loves small-town life and his family’s Montana ranch, and his boyfriend is the cutest guy at Little Timber High. But this out-and-proud cowboy is finally admitting to himself that he feels destined for more . . .
- When Edward and Billy meet by chance in New York City and discover that they are long-lost twins, their lives are forever changed. Will the twin princes—“twinces”— be able to take on high school, coming out, and coronations together? Or will this royal reunion quickly become a royal disaster? This description sounded like a blend of Red, White, and Royal Blue (a pure delight) and The Parent Trap. Royal twins separated at birth? A Canadian monarchy? I was intrigued.
- Syl’s 65 blog https://syl65.wordpress.com/2023/01/14/sketch-comedy-%f0%9f%98%83-key-peele-cool-teacher-vs-class-clown/
- Angel Messages https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/2023/01/14/angel-messages-jan-14-2023/
- Smorgasbord Magazine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2023/01/14/smorgasbord-public-relations-for-authors-recycled-part-two-author-biographies-tips-and-translations-by-sally-cronin/ With approximately 150 authors on the Smorgasbord bookshelf, I am in Amazon and Goodreads oftn checking for updated information new releases and reviews to share in the author features. In the upcoming series of Meet the Authors I will also be updating biographies to include and I am afraid that I have had to update quite a few myself with new books, or the numbers of books that have been written. My suggestions today are not carved in stone, and how you write your biography is entirely your decision. The one area that is key and seems to be echoed around the writing sites is the fact that a biography that is overlong will be overlooked. The biography is your advertisement that combined with your photograph is going to grab the attention of the potential reader who has landed on your author page. Last week I shared the fact that there are 20,000 new ebooks uploaded each week on Amazon that are in direct competition with your books. Provided you have listed your books with the genre or sub-genre, when searching for books a reader will be offered a selection to choose from. Hopefully that will land them on your book page or your Amazon Author Page.
- Marcia Meara Writes https://marciamearawrites.com/2023/01/14/enterprisemuseum-centralfloridawildlife-hugefun/ Off to visit with the good folks at Enterprise Museum today, to chat about two of the more unusual critters which live here in Central Florida: opossums and armadillos. It’s been months since I was feeling well enough to give one of these presentations, and I’m looking forward to this one more than I can say! Especially since I’ll be talking about two animals which are so very interesting, yet so misunderstood. If you happen to be in the area, come on by and see exactly what I mean for yourself! The little restored 1930s schoolhouse is worth the trip all by itself!
- Myths of the Mirror https://mythsofthemirror.com/2023/01/14/weekend-blog-share-silent-pariah/
- Entertaining Stories https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2023/01/14/am-i-done-maybe/ My only goal today was to do some writing. I’ve previously mentioned that Once Upon a Time in the Swamp required a long denouement. My intent here was to wrap things up, but also provide a potential future for Mari. I have no intention of a sequel, but I want readers to know life goes on after her traumatic events. Today, I reached that point. Mari’s tale came in over 70,000 words, but that’s not real lengthy. I’m of the mind a story will be as long as it needs to be. I like the story, but there are always things to second guess about one. Time for that later. At some point, I’m going to have to spend some real money on cover art for all these stories. I think they’re worth the cost of good art, and that industry also needs a few patrons. In fact that gives me an idea for a possible Story Empire post in the future. It’s time for me to embrace the thing I hate most about these projects… editing. I have three finished books at this time. They are tentatively called: I’m in the same mess with three manuscripts in need of edits in my hands at the moment.
- John Howell https://johnwhowell.com/2023/01/14/the-last-drive-tour-with-dan-antion/