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Genre Recap Part 1 of 2

Over the past few months, we have examined fourteen story skeletons based on genres and expanded the options with subgenres.

Story skeletons are not limiting. They can be dressed up, bent, and twisted in a hundred different ways. Fifteen people could be given the same seed and subgenre and you'd have fifteen different stories. Your unique voice, imagination, and use of language cannot be replicated.

Why choose genre first?

Choosing a skeleton for your story helps you keep your promise to readers by choosing elements a reader expects and avoiding elements they dislike, which leads to bad reviews. It provides layers of conflict to supply the satisfying S-curves readers enjoy traveling.

A story idea can be translated into any of the genres. Sometimes it helps to run them through the gamut to see which idea appeals to you. You may have characters you love or a plot idea that intrigues but not know what to do with them. That is where the story skeletons discussed in Story Building Blocks are valuable.

Let's take four basic characters: heroic Dick, love interest Sally, complicated friend Jane, and villain Ted.

1. If you choose a Comedy story skeleton and subgenre, you can send the foursome on any type of journey from road trip to murder mystery. The emphasis is on humor. Dick can be a bumbler or a straight man. Ted can be the opposite or equally silly. Sally and Jane cause funny complications or bring the two men back to earth by alerting them to serious consequences.

Check out the Comedy Build A World Workbook in print and e-book.

2. If you choose a Con, Heist, and Prison Break story skeleton, Dick can be a falsely convicted hero attempting to prove his innocence, but his incarceration strains his relationship with Sally. Jane could be the lawyer intent on gaining Dick's release. Ted is the prosecutor determined to keep him behind bars.

Dick could be a master thief working with Sally to steal a valuable painting. Jane is the security official tasked with keeping that from happening and Ted could be a partner in crime or a competing mastermind determined to steal the same treasure.

Check out the Con, Heist & Prison Break Build A Plot Workbook in print and e-book.

3. If you choose a Fantasy story skeleton and subgenre, Dick becomes the wizard tasked with saving the magical world. Sally can be a distraction (or endangered maiden) in Dick's battle with Ted (the threat to the magical world). Jane helps or hinders the hero or villain.

Check out the Fantasy Build A Plot Workbook in print and e-book.

4. If you choose a Gothic story skeleton, the foursome move to a remote manor house. Dick is the secretive Lord, Sally is the love interest forced to unravel his secret. Jane and Ted are invested in helping her or hindering her endeavor to get to the truth.

Check out the Gothic Build A Plot Workbook in print and e-book.

5. If you choose a Horror story skeleton and subgenre, Dick and Sally must fight off an evil Ted. Jane is usually collateral damage.

Check out the Horror Build A Plot Workbook in print and e-book.

6. If you choose a Historical story skeleton and subgenre, the foursome travel backward in time to any point on the globe and struggle with the limitations and challenges of the period. Dick can be a Prince destined to be King. Ted becomes the villain determined to steal the crown. Sally is the princess caught between the two while Jane secretly longs for Dick or plots with Ted.

Check out the Historical Build A Plot Workbook in print and e-book

7. If you choose a Literary skeleton and subgenre, the foursome are embroiled in a life and death drama. Dick can be a researcher determined to find a cure for Sally. Ted represents the evil politician who is against genetic tinkering. Jane could be Dick's assistant or Ted's minion.

Check out the Literary Build A Plot Workbook in print and e-book.

Next week, we continue to explore plot options.

For more about how to craft plots using conflict check out, Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict available in print and e-book and check out the free tools and information about the series on my website.

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