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Defining and Redefining with Genre

Tue Feb 4, 2014, 6:00 AM


 

Defining and Refining with Genre

So you want to write a story, eh? I assume you do since you’re reading this article, so let’s get going! 

One of the first and (in my modest opinion) and most important things you need to begin is to know what genre you are going to base your wonderful tale in. Genre (in the literary form) is defined as a category of literary composition, and are often determined by technique, tone and content. There are many categories and sub-categories, and you need to decide which one (or ones) that you want to focus in. After all, this is going to set the tone and setting for everything that comes after. It will determine the characters and situations you will be working with, and even provide some rules you would do well to follow.

Are you going to write a horror story? Comedy? High fantasy? Possibly historical or non-fiction? Or maybe you want one of the numerous sub-genres such as Steampunk, noir, alternate history or themed cookbooks. You can even blend them to achieve romantic comedies or Steampunk/horror stories.

But "Wait!" you say? There are so many genres, sub-genres, and blended genres to choose from, how can anyone possibly make that kind of decision? I recommend starting out with what you know and what you like. Beginning writing can be stressful on its own, and the difficulty is increased tenfold if you start with something you are unfamiliar with. What sort of stories do you like to read? Do you find yourself drawn to dragons and elves and wizards? Then high fantasy might be for you. If you begin with what you know, you will be more comfortable right off the bat. Take a look at your bookshelf or your movie list. Where do your interests lie? Consider that as your starting point.

Once you’ve chosen that lucky genre, begin your research! Continue to read up on it, learn the styles other authors have used before and decide on the one you feel most fits the content of your story. Intensity and fast pace may work very well in an action story but not as much in a philosophical tale. If you want to write a horror story that has your readers biting their nails and sleeping with the light on, you probably want avoid having jokes every couple of paragraphs. There are no hard and fast rules, as far as this goes, but taking the time to see what others have done before you will take you a long way.

You can also find great tutorials and resource websites, all just a click away from the web browser nearest you. You don’t have to spend countless hours drudging through endless how-to articles until you wish you’d stuck with visual art. Just twenty minutes here or thirty there to check out a few that you find helpful will do wonders for your literary toolbelt.

Here are a few that I've found to be particularly helpful:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_… - This helpful link lists out and defines genres, and breaks them down into sub-categories, and provides some examples.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_… - This wiki breaks them down even further (although without detailed descriptions) and provides links to the page specifically for that category.

TheWritingGuide wrote a nifty series called The Ultimate Writing Guide. You can find Part 1 here: Ultimate Writing Guide 1:1 - Getting StartedThe Ultimate Writing Guide
Chapter 1:1 - Getting Started
What you'll find in this area of the guide is developing you and why you want to write and the skills you'll need to do it. One of the best ways you can improve your writing offhand is to read a lot of books, especially books that are of the genre you would like to write yourself.
In this part of Chapter 1, you will find out:
:bulletblack:Why you want to write
:bulletblack:The obstacles you will face
:bulletblack:What sort of writing fits you
There will also be:
:bulletblack:Hints and tips
:bulletblack:Helpful advice
:bulletblack:Writing prompts to practice with
Why You Want to Write
Now you're obviously here because you want to write, therefore you've already completed step one of this process. Creativity starts with you. You'll probably find that you're analytic and self observant and many of the things your create come from your imagination, personality and in
  There is a section a few paragraphs down that deals specifically with genres. (All three parts contain good information on many aspects of writing, and I reccomend giving them all a look-see!)

And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for peers’ and friends’ advice. I have gotten a lot of great insight from writers, both here on dA and in the outside world, on my works. They can provide pointers and ideas you might not have found or thought of otherwise.

As you get more experienced and more comfortable in your writer’s skin, branching out and experimenting are good ideas. After all, the learning should never stop. But don’t make a pleasant hobby or goal more taxing by taking on too much at once. (I made that mistake early on, and it nearly put me off writing for a year.) If you are ever uncertain or get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are literally dozens of people here who are ready and waiting to offer their good advice, and dozens of others ready with their support and encouragement.

After you've done your research and picked your genre, get out there and start writing! Stay encouraged, stay motivated, and stay awesome, my friends!





How do you know where to start writing? Well, what story do you want to tell?
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:iconalphabetsoup314:
alphabetsoup314 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So I could blend genres to get like, a steampunk-alternate-history-themed cookbook? :XD:

Silliness aside, I think this gave some nice tips about writing within genre. 
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:iconbrietta-a-m-f:
brietta-a-m-f Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

Haha! That's a cookbook I would buy! :D

Thanks!

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:iconchivi-chivik:
Chivi-chivik Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
While this article is good, sometimes one doesn't need to care a lot about genres. That might block your story. Genres are just a way for humans to tag stories after all.
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:iconbrietta-a-m-f:
brietta-a-m-f Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

It's more or less a guideline for new writers. I found using genre as a guide helpful when I first started out, just like I used tracing when I first started out drawing. I even find them helpful now, since I write with the intention of publishing and there are certain genre elements that, if they are missing, can disappoint readership.

In the end, though, there really is no right or wrong way to do it! What works for me probably won't work for everyone. If you don't mind my asking, what methods do you use when starting out or planning a story?

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:iconchivi-chivik:
Chivi-chivik Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
In my case I never needed to take example from the common and conventional, I just take them as a reference of what and not what to do. I started being a critical person soon, so repetitive and cliché stuff started to bore me (And I tend to despise people that look for the conventional... I think they're boring). I prefer the unexpected.
In the case of drawing, I started tracing my sister -instead of other fiction =P- but I stopped doing that soon to start making stuff on my own. The problem is that I plagiarized other works' storylines, but that was when I was 10. :laughing:

That's true, there's no right nor wrong here, just likes and dislikes :aww:

Of course I'll answer! :lol: There I go:
-First of all, I need an idea. It can come from anywhere, but it must be an idea I like and that can be developed (As far as I know I've taken ideas from bursts of inspiration, analysis of other stuff and my own dreams. But it's VERY hard to me to get ideas :().
-Then, I start planning main/secondary characters, so I can start driving the idea somewhere.
-When I start driving that idea, I never think of which genre I'm touching. I think that limits me. I leave the idea to evolve in anything it wants. And that's when I start writing a script... when I can get more ideas to fill plot holes (I want to make comics instead of writing, but it's HARD to get plot hole-filler ideas :X)...
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:iconbrietta-a-m-f:
brietta-a-m-f Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

Haha! I often go a little backwards of that! I usually craft my world first, figuring out the background and general history and culture. It can take me years of this planning, drawing maps, doing research, etc, before I start writing. (Highly innefficient, yes, but it's the fun part for me!) As far as characters, I usually have one that I start out with, and others come in out of the blue.

I have to have a lot of planning involved in my story-telling, though, because I'm pretty much ADHD about it. If I don't give myself guidelines, I go a little nuts, and usually don't end up finishing it.

When you say plot holes, do you mean inconsistencies that don't make sense or empty spaces in the plot that you are trying to fill/flesh out?

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:iconchivi-chivik:
Chivi-chivik Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, I didn't include worldbuilding in my process (most of my stories happen in this world), but to me it comes after I've got the idea and the main characters designed :lol: My characters are very important to me (more than the universe :XD:)

I tend to plan only when I need it. I don't want to plan stuff that won't appear in the story (I follow the law of minimal effort :XD:)

The second thing: they're empty spaces that need to be filled with something. It's the HARDEST part to me, I can stay entire months without conitnuing my scripts due to them, and I still haven't found my method to fill them easily. No advice from internet worked to me. :X
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:iconbrietta-a-m-f:
brietta-a-m-f Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

Most of my short stories are set in our world, but my novel attempts tend to be either in fantasy lands (my gnome story) or alternate history versions of our world (a "secret project"). The first requires obvious building, but the latter requires a great deal of research to keep unintentional anachronisms to a minimum. My characters are almost secondary. I put a great deal of thought into them, to make them interesting, real and unique, but they have a tendency to grow on their own with much supervision.

I probably fall into the realm of planning a little too much. I do so more than is strctly necessary, anyhow. But I find the planning and research often helps to break periods of writer's block.

Hmm. That does sound frustrating. Well, the only advice I could give is to keep writing past that part and come back to it later. You can write the basic bones of the story and return to fleshing and filling after the main parts are done. There's also an article about using index cards for easily sketching out the narratives and discovering and filling these kinds of holes. I've never really had the issue, so I don't know what would work. But I'll try to find it again and link you to it. It might be helpful! :shrug:

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:iconchivi-chivik:
Chivi-chivik Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Mmhm, I understand :lol: As far as I can remember, just 2 stories of mine happen in a different universe, all of the others happen in this world or in worlds based on this one :meow:

Ah, that's good. My problem with research is that, even if I do so (I research different kinds of stuff almost everyday), it doesn't help me to get plot-filling ideas. Just... new ideas. And that's a HUGE problem to me. ^^; However, I never stop :) Knowledge is like a treasure to me.

I've used that technique a looooong time ago and it keeps not working, even if I keep doing so :(
I also did that but it didn't work. I still do it, however.
That sounds strange and confusing... :O
Well, thanks anyway ^^;
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:iconbrietta-a-m-f:
brietta-a-m-f Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

I think I like I like working in my own worlds (or alternate versions of reality) for the longer stories becaue it allows me to play by my own rules a little bit more.

Yeah, research does that to me as well at times. But I think knowledge should be liek a treasure to everyone!! :dummy:

Heh, yeah, it never worked for me either. ^^; I only suggested it because I know people it has worked for! If I come up with anything else, I'll let you know!

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