What are the secrets of genre?

In order to write a great novel you need to understand the genres you are writing

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Secrets of genre

Usually when I’m listening to a podcast or taking a course, I listen on at least 1.5 speed. With one person’s courses, however, I found not only did I need to go at the course’s pace, I needed to pause to make notes and reflect because the information was so densely packed.

John Truby writes about genre in a way that makes sense and seems obvious, yet it untangles a lot of problems with understanding this key element of storytelling.

What is genre?

John Truby says that genre is used to buy and sell stories. It tells the customer that they will be getting something they want to read. They are proven stories that have survived over time.

From a writer’s point of view, if you know your genre then you already know ten to twenty unique plot beats of your story.

Each genre gives the objective of the main character, the key question that genre explores and so expresses the genre’s unique philosophy on how to live a good life.

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The objective is to defeat the monster.

The key question is what is human and inhuman?

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The objective is to explore an imaginary world.

The key question is how do you live with style and freedom?

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Science Fiction

The objective is to deal with the tools of the world.

The key question is how do you create a better world?

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The objective is to go on a journey leading to oneself.

The key question is what is your destiny?

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The objective is to engage in combat.

The key question is to fight or flee, freedom or life?

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The objective is to find the truth.

The key question is who is guilty and who is innocent?

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The objective is to catch a criminal.

The key question is who is allowed to live above the law?

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The objective is to investigate whilst escaping attack.

The key question is are your suspicions justified?

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The objective is to gain success or failure, with humorous results.

The key question is do you lie or show your true self?

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The objective is to gain love.

The key question is how much can you love?

Mixing Genres

The secret to modern storytelling, according to John Truby, is to base your story on a mix of 2 or 3 genres.

But one of the genres must be primary.

The Anatomy of Genre

John Truby has a lot more to say on genre, including key ideas and scenes for each one.

He has a book out tomorrow. It includes all John Truby’s information on how to use genre in storytelling — The Anatomy of Genre. I can’t wait to read it.

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