Wednesday, January 27, 2016

WYNM, Victory 2: Genre

In our continuation of the walkthrough miniseries for Jeff Gerke's Write Your Novel in a Month*, we are going to be covering the second chapter or "Victory 2." Victory 2 focuses on genre. All opinions are my own.

Note: The post from yesterday was a whopping 2k words! I am going to be cutting back from now on; I will still cover the entirety of each chapter, but I will not be waxing as poetic in the future.

*This blog uses affiliate links. Learn more at the bottom of this post.

Yesterday we discussed Victory 1: The Ultimate Story, in which we went over Gerke's suggestions for choosing a story idea, refining that idea, and setting goals for the coming month. Today, we are taking a closer look at the next step of Gerke's suggested writing process: Choosing a genre.

A genre is basically the label under which bookstores, booksellers, or potential publishers will categorize your book (exp: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Western, Horror, etc.). As Gerke points out, almost every book will naturally fall under one classification or another (or sometimes a unique blend of two or more genres. Think Scifi/Western or Fantasy/Horror).Want more information on genres? Learn more about genres here.

Genre Alternatives

It may be that your story idea naturally came with a built-in genre. For example, if you want to write about an alien princess who had to defy the laws of her planet to ascend the throne, you are probably going to be writing a Science Fiction novel. However, Gerke makes it clear that some story ideas do not come with a handy-dandy genre; some story ideas are more thematic in nature and will require that you choose a genre in which to write them. Gerke gives the example of a coming-of-age story idea that would be well-placed in the fantasy genre due to the nature of fantasy stories (rife with mythology and symbolism).

Gerke goes on to provide examples of how story ideas could fit into multiple genres, depending on the type of perspective you want to take:
"[Y]our idea to write the plight of a young pioneer woman going West to settle in the Oregon Territory would work very well as a historical novel. But what if you wrote it as a science fiction about a young female astrophysicist heading out to deep space to colonize the first habitable Earthlike planet? See how you can explore the same situations in both genres?" (p. 26)
Genre Implications

In this section of Victory 2, Gerke emphasizes the fact that whatever genre in which you choose to place your story is going to come with certain expected elements.

He cites examples such as the ever-popular Vampire Romance; readers of this genre expect things like at least one vamp and one non-vamp character, and you can bet those two characters should fall in love at some point in the book. In the Vampire Romance genre, readers are also going to expect stereotypical "vampire" elements like the hunger for blood, prevalence for the darkness, and probably some degree of wealth (What kind of a vampire who s/he be if s/he didn't invest wisely? Am I right?).

Gerke mentions that the purpose of defining a genre for your story idea is to find the genre that gives "your idea the maximum support in your effort to accomplish the things you love about it" (p. 29).

Setting, Era, and Backdrop

So, theoretically, you explored what Gerke covers in this section when you completed your brainstorming activity during Victory 1. If not, you have some time to think about it here. It is worth mentioning that you may need to reconsider some of your brainstorming ideas now that you have chosen your genre (and by 'reconsider,' I simply mean 'refine'). If you started your brainstorming session with the notion of writing a love story that takes place in a desert region where everyone commutes via horse and buggy, but you have refined your idea to fit within the parameters of the science fiction genre, you are going to need to tweak those setting and era ideas a bit.

Gerke elaborates on his notion of "backdrop" by defining it as "the larger social issues going on at the time; e.g., things like the Vietnam War and the Antiwar Movement, the Salem Witch Trials, Prohibition," etc. (p. 29). He also suggests that you consider the real-life cultures and world history to get inspiration for your setting and era.

To close Victory 2, Gerke emphasizes that the entire point of Part 1 of WYNM is to make sure that you develop the right foundation to make your story idea have the greatest desired impact.

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I hope you are enjoying our walkthrough miniseries of Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke! Tomorrow, we are going to be focusing on our main characters in Victory 3: Your Hero.

Can't wait for more posts? Pick up your copy of Write Your Novel in a Month here.*

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