Generative Writing Exercise #1: Twisting Your Genre

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Genre is hard to pin down these days. Are you telling a contemporary story or a romance? An adventure or a fantasy? Scifi, clifi, or horror?

A good writer will you tell that the labels have shifted and blurred and it’s hard to tell which one best describes the work most succinctly. But it is the blurring and blending of these genres that creates new, interesting work. Despite there only being two, or seven, or thirty-six fundamental plots, we as writers, can still satisfy the need for something new with the combinations of ideas and strong emotional cores for our characters.

It is important to have well-formed characters that your readers can empathize with–or viciously despise. It doesn’t matter if your character is a child or a giant bug, characterization is characterization.

But the ideas are what make great fiction, especially speculative fiction. And no, I don’t mean “Harry Potter, but in space! You’re a martian, Harry!”

No, the best stories take aspects of the genre and make them integral to the story–not just parts of the proverbial stage.

Coming up with ideas that no one has seen before is tricky. At the very least, you need a fresh take on an old idea (again, not Harry Potter in space). Once you find that core idea, you can begin writing from there.

Originally published on January 28, 2022 @ 7:03 am


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Published by J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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