Tag Archives: plot

Blurring Genres

I always enjoyed Fantasy, as I mentioned in previous entries.  I read to escape reality, and perhaps it seemed the best blurred linesway to do that was to engage in a genre that removed itself from reality the most.

Even in my other free time hobby, video games, I enjoy fantasy – The Witcher series, Elder Scrolls, vampire sagas.

For a time I was interested in The Sims when it first came out (like a decade ago), but when I realized the game dealt with the same crap I had to deal with in real life it lost a lot of interest for me.  Like literally, your character had to find time to crap – go to the bathroom, as well as eat, go to work, shower, talk…  I had enough difficulty finding time for me to do all those things for myself!  I really don’t want to take up precious free time to do it for a virtual me.

So Fantasy was my passion.  It made sense when I started writing that would be the genre I was drawn to.  So my first two manuscripts were clearly urban Fantasy.   My first was a vampire novel, which has yet to see the light of day (seriously – no pun was intended).  Being my first attempt at a novel I made so many mistakes it is in dire need of revamping…okay, I chose that word on purpose, sorry.

My second novel, Natural Enemies, I believe shown major growth (you can check it out yourself here).  But then I wrote my third novel and was half way through it when my CPs mentioned I was writing a paranormal romance not a fantasy.  My opinion about blurred genre lines are posted here.

Now I started another manuscript.  Maybe the fourth times a charm…right?  When I started writing it was to be a good ol’ fashion urban fantasy.  However, as I wrote, as my characters and plots tend to do, it morphed.  As it turns out, it isn’t fantasy, it’s not even magical realism, or any other sub-genre of fantasy.  I thought it would become action/adventure, but I’m not so sure anymore.  In truth, if someone was to put a gun to my head right now and demand a classification I would have to say – incomplete, simply because I wouldn’t be able to answer them, so I they would shoot me, and thus, I wouldn’t get to finish the story.

I know this will be an issue when I finish, unless it develops in some clear and defined way so I can properly query it under the right genre to the right agents and publishers.  But what if it doesn’t?

Many stories overlap multiple genres, and at times it seems almost like a crapshoot when classifying someone’s work.

Yes, classifications are useful and necessary.  Most people when looking for their next book will make a beeline to a certain genre.  I don’t know anyone who goes into a bookstore or library and would say to the staff member or librarian if asked what are they looking for would respond ‘Anything, as long as it has words’.  People have interests matching the classifications of the genres.  I never had an interest in reading Romance novels, and I know others have no interest in Fantasy.  It’s not that one is better than the other, they’re just different.

But some genres can overlap.  Speculative Fiction has many distinct categories, and Romance can contain plenty of action scenes.  Mysteries can have plenty of romance scenes.  How do we know how to properly define a book when the relationship between the two main characters is as important to the development of the story as discovering who the killer is?  Just because there’s magic in the world, does that trump the fact the story is about the coming of age of a young girl trying to find herself in that world?

It seems that writers today aren’t so concerned with making sure they stay ‘inside the lines’ for want of a better expression, when creating their stories.  But if the industry isn’t willing to entertain that sort of flexibility, what happens then?

Be sure to read my latest entry of my Paranormal novel: Daughter of Lilith on Wattpad!

Writing styles – plotter versus panster

Image 

Anyone who writes and talks to other writers eventually gets asked the question:  ‘Are you a plotter or panster?’

While to an outsider it sounds like the perfect beginnings of a harassment case and the filing of a restraining order, it’s a common question.   Writers are interested in knowing if their counterparts outline and plan their stories before sitting down to write or if they just ‘wing it’.

A plotter plots out their manuscript, often creating an outline of the entire story before they launch their word processor and type their first word.  A panster may have a rough idea of what’s going on with their characters, but doesn’t have a clear and defined concept, yet they dive into their manuscript and see where it takes them.  They are flying by the seat of their pants.  While I’m not sure where the term ‘panster’ came from, I’m just going with my belief that’s why we are called pansters.  If you know differently, please leave a comment.

To be honest I have yet to meet anyone who is completely one or another.  Most if not all writers are going to be a hybrid of the two.  One writer I know does create outlines before beginning the writing process, but as far as I know, has yet to not alter it numerous times throughout her characters’ journey.

I consider myself predominantly a panster.  I will often have the beginning and the end of my story scoped out in my head, and at that point will beginning writing.  I sit down with my characters, which tend to be flushed out more than the plot I’m about to the put them through and tell them the following:  ‘Okay guys, here’s the deal.  You’re here, at point ‘A’.  I need you all to get over here, at point ‘Z’.  How you do it is up to you, just make sure you get there…except for you Smeadly, you need to die at point ‘R’.  Sorry, need to make sure the main character has motivation to continue forward.’

Aside from poor Smeadly, the process works for all of us, mainly because I believe my stories are more character driven then plot driven, so as long as I stay true to their personalities, the plot will be pushed forward.  As I write I will find myself adding the points ‘B’, and ‘C’, and (poor Smeadly), ‘R’.  So in some sense I’m never really flying blind.  But since I don’t have the outline to begin with, I would be considered a panster.

Most will agree they while neither is better than the other, one usually works better for an individual.  Most plotters will shake their heads in wide-eyed wonderment as the panster sits down and just begins written without consulting a stack of papers with the outlines and character profiles, and bite their tongue when we get writer’s block.  Pansters will roll their eyes and tap their foot as the plotter goes over their notes before preparing to tackle the puzzle that will soon be their next masterpiece. 

There’s no right or wrong way to write a story.  If it’s in you, it will get out and find its way to the keyboard.