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Write Your Novel
Step by Step


By Melanie Anne Phillips
Creator of StoryWeaver

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~ Step 32 ~



Introduction



Many novice authors view Genre as a list of requirements or a box in which one must write.  Stories created this way are usually predictable and formulaic.


A better way is to see Genre as the overall "feel" of the finished work.  An author gives himself or herself the freedom to let the story grow in the directions it wants, without constraint.  Then what makes the story feel more like a horror story or a western are the storytelling elements peppered into it along the way.


Not all genres rely on the same kinds of elements.  Some genres, like Westerns, are based on a particular setting and often a particular time period.  Others, like action stories are based on the kinds of events that take place.  So, a Western like "High Noon" is not an action story, while a Western like "Shanghai Noon" is, thereby spanning two sub-genres.


Horror stories are about varieties of physical torment, Comedies are affecting the audience directly by making it laugh, regardless of setting, time period, or activities.


The point here is that one need not be confined to a single traditional genre.  In fact, the more blending you do, the more original your novel will come to be.


In this step we’ll begin the process of creating the unique feel of your novel by having you choose as many traditional genres that you might like to draw upon.


The following list covers a number of popular genres to get you started.


COMMON GENRES:


Western, Mystery, Horror, Comedy, Drama, Action, Romance, Musical, Biography, Thriller, Black Comedy, Situation Comedy, Comedy of Manners, Comedy of Errors, Tragedy, Period Drama, Historical, Epic, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Fantasy, Ethnic, War, Anti-War, Romantic Comedy, Spy, Heist, Spoof, Survival, True-to-life, Musical Comedy, Personal Growth, Relationships.


Now, write the names of all the different genres you might want to include elements of in your story.  Example: Horror and Comedy are two of the genres used in the Scary Movie series of films.



~ Step 33 ~



Genre Elements


Each genre brings to mind certain essential or at least common ingredients.  For example, the list of elements in the Western genre might include:


     Cowboys

     Horses

     Frontier Town

     Saloon

     Gunfight

     Stampede


Some of these elements are characters.  Others are locations.  Some are events.


The elements in other genres may include storytelling style (such as keeping the audience guessing in a mystery), references to other stories (as in a spoof), or the relationships among characters (as in a Buddy Story or Romantic Comedy).


By creating an extensive list of genre elements, you will have a wealth of options for adding detail and richness to the overall feel of your novel.


Referring to your chosen genres from the last step, describe the elements you would expect to find in each.  List as many as you can.



~ Step 34 ~



Your Unique Genre


Referring to the collection of elements you gathered in the last step, use it as a shopping list, selecting only those elements from each genre you might like to include in your story.


By picking and choosing genre elements from several genres rather than adopting a complete set from a single genre, you will break out of formula and your story will seem far more fresh and original, even while still feeling familiar.



~ Step 35 ~



Revised Synopsis


Your list of genre elements currently stands by itself as components.  The idea here is to make specific reference to these elements throughout your synopsis whenever you can.


By spelling out specifically how each of the elements you'd like to include actually will be included, you lay the groundwork for your novel’s unique genre, not just a generic one.


Referring to your synopsis and your list of chosen genre elements, revise your synopsis to pepper it with as many those elements as you can.