Critique Group

Genre Influence

In Natasha Hanova on February 6, 2013 at 6:12 am

Why does genre matter? It provides a guideline of sorts for authors to use while writing and  also clues readers in on what to expect from a book. Every genre has its own nuisance, sound, and feel. Let’s take a moment to explore this on a deeper level, where setting, plotting, and tension are concerned.

When readers pick up paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, and sometimes horror books, they expect settings that bend the limits of reality: parallel universe, insight into other worlds, breaches between realms, etc. Even when based on real-world locations, paranormal authors are tasked with pushing the boundaries, while holding onto a readers suspension of disbelief.

In mysteries, suspense-thrillers, historical, and contemporary books, readers expect more factually accurate settings, especially ones set in major cities. Writer’s still have the ability to alter things, within certain limits. The Statue of Liberty has to stay on Liberty Island and Carhenge (it’s a place) has to stay in Alliance, Nebraska.

Mystery and suspense-thrillers lean toward plot heavy stories. Readers of this genre expect a fast ride, with lots of action which arises from external sources. As in The Bourne Legacy, people who enjoy these genres want a puzzle to piece together.

Horror, romance, fantasy, contemporary, and paranormal books tend to center around character growth. In movies like Prometheus, characters are forced out of their comfort zone and the plot reveals itself through the actions/decisions of the character.

No matter the genre, tension is what keeps readers turning the page. It’s the challenge(s) the main character faces. Sometimes, as in fantasy, this can be a physical challenge. Think of Frodo’s task in Lord of the Rings. In mystery and suspense-thrillers, tension sometimes comes from a ticking clock. Think Taken. In historical and contemporary stories, the tension may stem from internal sources, or matters of the heart. Think Atonement.

What other ways can you think of genre influencing setting, plot, and tension?

Happy Reading & Writing!


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