Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Genre Debate (#IWSG October 2022)

I am the shadow on the moon at night
Filling your dreams to the brim with fright

Happy Halloween month, everyone!

The Fall season is always a busy time for me (when isn't it?) First we have back to school in September, then comes October, which in our household involves more prep work than Christmas. Starting two years ago, we've been hosting highly-involved Haunted Houses for the kids in the family. The first time was due to Halloween being cancelled due to Covid, but the kids have insisted we keep it going. This year I may be painting the entire basement black. This may or may not be a good idea.

Next month is November, which is a crazy writing time as I prepare the family books for Christmas presents, followed by December which is of course always a write-off in terms of being productive.

I'll get back to finishing Gale Harbour Book 3 eventually...

October Question
What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

Oh, this is a rant I've been meaning to go on for awhile, so this is a perfect opportunity to do so.

My gut reaction to "what is your favourite genre" is for me to say "comedy," but comedy isn't really a genre. It's a style of writing that can be added to any other genre (and should be, IMHO). So that means that my favourite genre is probably fantasy or sci-fi. Except...


"Robots" by itself is not a genre. "Robot-erotica," on the other hand...

I will admit, I got this idea from Shawn Coyne's The Story Grid, but I completely agree with it. A "genre" describes the plot of a story - genres are meant to include specific plot points, in order to let their readers know what to expect. A mystery has to have an inciting crime, a villain's MacGuffin and the exposure of the criminal. A romance has triangles, secrets and lovers split-up/reuniting. There is a little more to it than that, and there are always exceptions, but the framework is the key and very specific. That's what makes a genre. 

How do you define "Fantasy" and "Sci-Fi"? Fantasy generally takes place in a secondary world (or our world with different rules), and includes some system of magic. Sci-Fi takes place in a "futuristic" world and includes technology that seems potentially possible (magic based in science). None of these things describe the actual story, they describe the setting where your story takes place.

Fantasy and Sci-Fi aren't genres, they're SETTINGS.

You can have a fantasy action story (Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson), or a fantasy mystery (anything by Jim Butcher or Charlaine Harris). You can have a sci-fi horror story (the original Terminator or Alien) or a sci-fi romance (pretty much any anime or manga from the last 30 years). Fantasy and Sci-Fi says nothing about the plot by themselves. You can't have a fantasy or sci-fi story without a plot (well you can, but it would be terrible). You have to layer a genre on top of it. 

Come at me.

Huge & Kisses,

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Steven Arellano Rose Jr. said...

I agree with you about genre being about the story's structure and plot points. However, I disagree about your definition of what a genre is not.

A genre is not simply a setting, it's an approach to a story that has themes and other elements distinctive to that type of story. For example, what makes a story science fiction is not just the setting and sometimes it's not the setting at all. What makes a story sci fi is that it involves a scientific, technological or natural event that has not occurred in real life yet or maybe even never.

I do agree genre is a style of a sort. You do bring up some important points about what goes into a fiction story that are essential to making a story.

I can see why some people dont like getting hung up on genre though at least in the sense that its popularly defined because it can be easily limiting to someone who wants to write beyond the genre conventions which many such authors have turned out some really good work.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My publisher lists it as a genre. Although mine is the subcategory of space opera.
A black basement? That will be creepy.

Loni Townsend said...

Weird... did my comment never post, or did it get deleted?

Mary Aalgaard said...

Great desciptions of these types of books. Good books have elements from several "genres." And, yes, all books should include humor and at least a little mystery and intrigue. Otherwise, you don't feel compelled to keep reading.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I think fantasy and science fiction are genres. Glad you're getting ready to enjoy all the holidays.

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