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Genre


Hello everyone. I've decided to start a blog, partly because it sounds amusing, and partly because I want to remind myself of everything I should be doing while writing. This blog will dispense whatever sage advice I happen to have to offer, along with the side tangents and other thoughts that come to mind while writing these things. I will have space at the end of each blog for a more condensed version of the advice, for the sake of clarity and really making sure I get all this stuff. I'm still working on making it look pretty, and I probably won't have it super fancy until sometime in January. Let's face it, I'm never going to get around to it.
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Genre

Posted April 1st, 2016 at 6:32 PM by Bardothren

Hello there! First off, no, I'm not dead, thanks for caring >:( Second off, wow, viewership took a nosedive in March... not entirely sure to make of that considering my second post hit over two thousand views. Third, no, this is not an April Fools prank, although I was considering it.

As for a brief run-through of the last three weeks of my life, all I did over spring break was eat, sleep, and play Starcraft on the N64 emulation on my computer... which is extremely bizarre when you think about it. A emulation of a port of a computer game, played on a computer... hmm...

Furthermore, I'm almost done with the next chapter of TtD... I'm really happy with this one so far, and I expect to be done sometime this weekend, or maybe even today. We'll see.

All that aside, I finally got out of my spring break funk and it's back to work for me. This one will be quick since it's a topic of which I don't have mounds of expertise in.

Genre


First, to define it. Genre is the group of conventions under which your story is categorized, be it a romance, sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, or any other group you can think of. It's stereotypes for books - and like stereotypes, it's important to keep in mind that they don't always accurately describe their constituents.

Take Lord of the Rings for example: as classic of an example of fantasy as possible. Heck, it made the genre, and it meets every single one of its tenets to a t. (more on the fantasy genre next time). Now compare it to... say... Game of Thrones. Is Game of Thrones fantasy? I would argue it is, based on its medieval setting, presence of magic, and conflict with supernatural forces. Yet, it feels way too dark, bloody, and twisted for your typical fantasy. Heroes die off and villains get to reap the rewards of their ill deeds. How, then, would we classify GoT? Would we give it its own genre? If we do that, then we reduce the significance of the genre as a means of classification. We're either forced to make broad generalizations that fail to properly describe every constituent it attempts to cover or narrow the focus of the genres and reduce their utility as a means of classifying literature - genres are truly a futile pursuit.

Futile, but not useless. When writing, it is very important to keep in mind exactly what genre you write for and what conventions you are expected to follow. You are by no means expected to follow every convention, nor are you restricted to any one genre - take a look at Cowboy Bebop for an example of perfectly blended genres. I would, instead, treat genres as a set of expectations the reader will have when approaching your book, a mindset that, if carefully manipulated, can create an emotional response.

Game of Thrones is a really good example of breaking convention to achieve popularity. It isn't that George R. R. Martin isn't aware of how fantasy typically proceeds; it is because he is so familiar with the genre that he knows how to break its conventions to the greatest effect. He introduces one heroic character after another, only for each to meet their inevitable yet surprising demise.

So, if you have a story planned, think for a moment about what genre you address, and whether or not your story meets the genre's classifications. Use it as a template to which you mold your story or as a foil to make yours stand out. Though I know very little about genre conventions outside of the fantasy and sci-fi genres, I'll be happy to share my knowledge of them with you... in another blog entry.

No summary this time... I don't think this needs it. Alright then, ciao!
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