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  1. Millamber

    Millamber Senior Member

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    Better writing/Ideas in a genre other than your preferred

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Millamber, Jun 21, 2017.

    Hi All,

    I'm just wondering if this ever happens to anyone else, or am I just...special? For some reason, ideas seem to be really hard to come by in the genre I want to write in - fantasy, but I find it much easier to come up with ideas and write faster/clearer in genre's that whilst I do enjoy, are not what I'd love to write in.

    I've read a lot of fantasy books and always have one on the go, but for some reason, it's like getting blood out of a stone finding a plot that really inspires me and makes me want to write. Whereas just the other day, after watching Law and Order SVU, I gave drafting a plot a go, and came up with something much more...complete? than any fantasy plot I'd ever written.

    Do you ever find your ideas better in another genre than your target genre?
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I know just what you mean because I read mostly horror, and I can't come up with good horror plots. It makes sense - when we read so much in a genre, it gets harder and harder to come up with original ideas.

    I write romance instead. I'm not exactly overflowing with ideas but once I think of a plot, I can run with it no problems.
     
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  3. Millamber

    Millamber Senior Member

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    Thanks for the reply - I'm glad the issue isn't just with me.
    I am going to focus on this crime novel I plotted, see how I get on. I just find it really disappointing that I can't formulate decent plots / ideas for the genre that I love/read about the most.
     
  4. Ulquiorra9000

    Ulquiorra9000 Member

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    I get this to a mild degree. I like writing sci-fi the most, but ideas for fantasy are easier for me to create and sustain. Maybe because fantasy lets you almost literally think of anything whatsoever and get away with it because, by nature, fantasy is about what can't be, which is anything! A skilled writer could make a good story out of a maple tree who follows his passion as a bard and makes friends with a girl who cooks for ghosts' dinner parties.

    Also, I've only recently started doing rom-com stories (fan fiction), and it's easy and fun to come up with material for that. Again, easier than sci-fi. Maybe I'm a better sci-fi reader than writer.
     
  5. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    I enjoy reading comedy, humor, and light-hearted stories, real or not. My writing is much bloodier and darker.
     
  6. BillyJBarter

    BillyJBarter New Member

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    I would imagine it's because the closer and more knowledgable you are on a genre, the harder it is to feel you have anything to add to it. Even though I'm sure most of the people on site are aware that the things they are writing aren't gonna be purely original, I'm sure on a subconscious level your brains just not gonna want to produce an idea if it can immediately think of a few things that are very similar to it.

    I have a friend who's simultaneously a dance music producer and a professional dance music critic. Since becoming a dance music critic his output of his own music declined dramatically because he struggled to feel inspired by any ideas that didn't sound like something he'd reviewed. I appreciate this is a conundrum all creative people have to just get over, but still its naturally going to feel harder with the things your closer to

    EDIT: Just realised Tenderiser just pretty much said the same thing in way simpler words haha
     
  7. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I think it's a common thing. I have it too. I'm a sci-fi guy and for complicated reasons I ended up writing contemporary teen drama/romance.

    I suspect the reason is that the genres that we really love we know a bit too well. It's very easy to feel that ideas aren't original or engaging because you've seen so very many of them done before. You know where your inspiration comes from and it seems very obvious to you. When you know the genre conventions too well then everything seems so derivative. Especially before a book is written when you're talking just in the broad strokes and don't have the benefit of a fleshed out setting or a clear voice or any of the other markers of the great works in that genre then everything feels pedestrian.

    By contrast, when you don't know the genre too well you can be a lot more confident about your ideas. You know enough to know that maybe this idea has something interesting and unique about it, but not so much that you can name seventeen other books with a similar idea. You don't feel like you are copying or walking in someone elses shadow. You aren't comparing yourself to the great authors that have come before you. And of course it helps to be taking a fresh look at an old genre; bringing something of the genre you like into another space; bringing together the themes that you like into a genre that doesn't often deal with them.

    Sure, I write romance(ish) books for teenage girls. But you can see the cyberpunk influences all over them at least in terms of the themes. My books are dark and sad and with no good choices to be made; people trying very hard to do the right thing and always falling a little bit short. But in this world I'm not comparing myself to William Gibson, whose superb prose I can't ever really live up to. In this space I can wear my influences on my sleeve more overtly and not care if it shows because I'm not writing the same kind of books.

    Writing what I do all I need to look for are ideas that make me think 'Oh that's interesting' instead of searching desperately for ideas that will redefine a genre I really revere.
     
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  8. Parker101

    Parker101 Member

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    Hi, I don't know if this is an idea you've already considered but it's something I've used myself as a writer of sci-fi type stories but also a great love of the crime fiction genre. Obviously this is a common area of crossover, with authors like Phillip K. Dick, but I'm sure it can be applied to the fantasy genre as well. If you can create a solid, workable crime/thriller plot, then try keeping all the core elements you feel make it strong, and simply take it out of context and into a fantasy setting. Set your Law & Order type story in the distant future, or on board a cyberpunk space colony or in an alternate universe. This is kinda dependent on the type of fantasy you want to write, the plot of a suburban crime novel just wouldn't work in the Game of Thrones universe for instance. But if you start off with your drafted plot and weave fantasy elements into it, you may end up with a hybrid of the two genres. I hope this is of some help and not complete nonsense
     
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  9. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Yes indeed; there's lots of ways to work the things you like into the ideas you have.

    You can do that directly with genre cross overs but I think you can do it quite subtly. After all, genres are often not helpful things to talk about as writers anyway. A genre is made up of lots of things; setting and characters and style and themes. And typically it's only some of those that really engage us. You can take, say, the themes that you love exploring and write them into the good ideas you have. You can take the fantasy setting that interests you and write a crime book set there. That's exactly what I've been doing; taking the weird, dark themes that I like exploring and writing them into books about teenage girls. I get to get my teeth into the psychology and that's just as engaging whoever is doing it.

    Try to see what makes you (the OP) want to write a specific genre; ask yourself if you can write another kind of book that still touches those same things, that still engages you without having to be the full elves and goblins.
     
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  10. Millamber

    Millamber Senior Member

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    More amazing replies, again glad it's not just me.
    As for why I want to write fantasy, its just a genre I love, the fact that anything can happen. I'm more medieval kind of fantasy, think Raymond Feist, that kind of thing.

    I do like the idea of splicing fantasy and another genre, like crime. However I imagine it'd probably work a bit better in a sci fi setting...

    I might just get on with writing a different genre, more to hone my writing skills a bit more and make them better (the more you write the better you get - I hope), and maybe an idea will come to me then!
     
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  11. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    I had never thought about it that way. I too am a horror reader and I can't come up with an original horror story to save my life. Always thought it was my lack of creativity, but now I can see what you mean. Makes perfect sense.
     
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  12. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I think a fantasy-crime story could work pretty well ;)

    Granted, I'm spoiled by The Dresden Files and have been writing an Urban Fantasy about a vampire bank robber, but I would think the same principles would apply to medieval-esque fantasy.

    EDIT: Come to think of it, when I took a Great Course in fiction writing, one of my favorite assignments was to take a famous scene from TV, film, or literature, and re-write the scene in a different setting :) Would you like me to send you the Swords/Sorcery adaptation I made of the Dark Knight opening bank robbery?
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  13. Millamber

    Millamber Senior Member

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    Sure, that'd be fun to read!
     
  14. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    About five of the discworld books are exactly that concept; crime solving in the weird and wonderful world of magic and dwarves and so forth. Fortunately discworld has the get out of jail free clause (if you'll pardon the expression) that magic is kinda weird and fey and never does what you want it to anyway so they don't use magic to solve crimes, they just kinda ignore it. Being a comedy setting you can get away with just hanging a lantern on it, but in more serious settings you do have to think a bit about how the setting effects the premise. While you can write any story, in a broad sense, in any setting. The setting obviously links into the fine details and you do have to be careful with starting out writing something thinking you can make it work when some aspect of the setting won't support a story beat.

    You can write a great romance set in the zombie apocalypse, but you have to make sure that it all still gels together. If you conceived of a modern day romance first then jumped it into the zombie apocalypse to make it something you are more interested in working on then you might well run into pretty significant problems with it. For example; in the modern day it's unlikely that the male lead would think about, say, just killing the female MC and taking all her stuff. But we've all seen The Walking Dead and a bunch of movies and in that setting the people are jaded and cynical and willing to kill and even if she's really cute, well, that's another mouth to feed and maybe she has some good stuff. Neither of them are really looking for romance in the exact same way that they might in a modern, safer setting. And you can still do that same broad strokes. You can, if careful, transplant a boy meets girl workplace romance into that setting. But you'd have to totally change who the characters are and how they think and what they feel. And maybe that doesn't matter because you were trying to write a book about these two characters overcoming something in their pasts anyway so whatever, maybe it even works better. But it's still not quite the same book. Dark secrets in toady's world aren't quite the same thing as dark secrets after the end of the world.

    So, as I say, you can definitely keep hold of the particular strands that you like and want to engage with, but you can't quite keep hold of everything when moving stories in and around genres.
     
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  15. Millamber

    Millamber Senior Member

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    Agree with what you've said. It'll depend on the type of setting too I'd guess. I can imagine having some kind of, excuse the wording... space police, people that investigate death/murder etc and other crimes, but in a medieval kind of world with magic, it would probably be difficult!
    I guess I wanted to write a fantasy book with immersive worlds and cities and characters because that's what I love to read, and in a way I've started to write okay (I'm not one for blowing my own trumpet), I'm just annoyed the current plots I have, I deem very weak
     
  16. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Yeah it's reasonable to have space police or star ship security teams etc; there's plenty of Star Trek that is about investigating a crime. In the fantasy world there's nothing wrong with having a city watch or a a local sheriff or magistrate. In our own past it was never that there weren't laws, it's just that there wasn't anyone who's job it was to investigate them. Anyone who took an interest could investigate if they wanted to and if they found evidence there definitely were courts and magistrates and gallows to punish law breakers. You just need to find someone who would take an interest and you can do an investigation.

    The best thing about police investigations as a story type is that you get to take the story across as wide an area as you want. You could really use that approach to show off a wide cross section of your fantasy setting; from the lord in the castle to the peasants in the tavern and everything between, wherever the investigation takes him. The hero doesn't need to plan to go on such a sightseeing tour, he just has to keep nosing around and looking for leads and oh look some weird guild or some monks or a wizards!

    What is it about your ideas that you feel don't work?
     
  17. Millamber

    Millamber Senior Member

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    Well, it's your typical fantasy book that I started, just to get me into writing, but I wanted to avoid the clich├ęs of a farm boy having untold power etc, and he actually gains powers by being given them by a God in retaliation for the fact the open-use magic has been banned on the world, following a mage battle millennia ago.
    He then has to learn to use it all etc, whilst a war goes on and their city is invaded.
    I kind of like what happens after the invasion and the reasons for the invasion, it's just, the plot so far takes at least half the book before the protagonist gains his powers, so it's... not much action to start with?

    There are things that go on, that would potentially keep you interested (he says hopefully), including the protagonist being banished to a working camp as opposed to being killed as capital punishment... it just seems to take too long to get to the action.
    I don't know, just seems weak to me
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  18. pyroglyphian

    pyroglyphian Word Painter

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    Same, @Millamber. Perhaps you're not so encumbered by artistic attachment to those lesser-favoured genres.
     
  19. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    So the plot threads feel too disconnected and that's also screwing with the pacing? Yeah, I can see that being a problem.

    My immediate feeling is that it sounds like you're talking about two books in the same setting. I think one is a big book about the whole world/city and one is a more personal book about this guy and his hero's journey. These are clearly happening at the same time but the scope is very different. To put it in more universally comprehensible terms; there's a reason why in Star Wars the Empire starts already in charge and being evil when we meet Luke Skywalker. Not to imply that you're copying or unoriginal; just that we're talking about a well trodden story format; literally a hero's journey. Star Wars has cool stuff going on, builds a nice world, but we don't get into the minutiae of the Empire as bad guys really. All the big scale stuff has already happened and we get plonked in medias res into the rebellion and we follow Luke and Leia and Han; particularly Luke and see him become the hero we all need but probably don't deserve. There's a reason why Darth Vader is all in black and literally fucking murders people on screen, and why the Emperor is a cackling madman who's so evil he literally shoots lightning. Because we don't know them much as characters, we don't really feel what they are doing and why. It's a personal story about Luke growing until he can save the world.

    It feels to me like you have a great idea for a world that you like and lots of stuff that's happening there, and this is good. But I almost think that this is what's causing your problems. Not because your ideas are bad, but because you're thinking about trying to paste together too much stuff into one book when it doesn't obviously fit together. A more natural fit from my point of view is that you have a book establishing the setting and the big bad guys and the second one is a book about the the hero coming to save everyone, the more intimate story once you've built the world in another book.

    To be a bit more general; I think that there aren't really bad ideas. As long as they make logical sense then these very broadly drawn ideas are never really bad. What will make them good is the writing and the characters and everything else, rather than the wide story strokes; it'll be why exactly this happens and how the characters react. What I think you need to be worrying about is how to cut book size chunks that all naturally fit together out of your setting. And using other genres might be a good way to do that still. A courtly intrigue type book, a military campaign, a hero's journey, a book about the normal people living under an oppressive regime; but you need to keep the focus tight and only include the bits of your larger story that matter in each book.
     
  20. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    I... would read this book.
     
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  21. Millamber

    Millamber Senior Member

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    I think if I wasn't married, and straight, I'd propose to you right now! I think I'm definitely going to look at chopping and changing the plot so that there are more things going on.
    I did actually try and cut the book into 3 books, with book 1 being him becoming the mage/wizard, the invasion being dealt with and the person who's out for power being outed but buggering off, book two being a court intrigue kind of one, more characters and info on the world, and book 3 dealing with the antagonist in book one... however maybe I need to look into the changing around of ordering so that more action happens at a point where it will keep the reader interested and invested more!

    Thank you
     
  22. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    You are very welcome. I am open to the idea of a polygamous marriage, if you have a few quid anyway. We'll go to Utah and annoy the Mormons, it'll be like a sitcom.

    I think there's pluses and minuses to which order you put the books in. In the grand scheme of literature it would be better to do the big stuff first, because that's where you get to paint the whole setting and to see blood and guts and cover a lot of ground. So that would make sense to me. But from a more cynical stand point, the heroes book is more marketable and accessible to new readers. It gives them, well, a hero to invest in, you know? And a happy ending. So really it could be either way and I can't quite say which I would want to do. As ever the challenge in these meta-plot situations is that the first book has to stand well on its own.

    You could do something more unconventional to get the bigger scope book out at first; make the bad guy the protagonist for example. That'd make it a bit more juicy, especially if it's not very clear if he's the bad guy of this world or not until late in the book. Getting the audience sympathizing with him, getting them to buy into him as genuinely heroic then just when they think he's going to win he turns out to be a tyrant; yeah that'd be a nice way to kick start a series. Stands well on it's own two feet, has a bit of a narrative edge to it while you start to build the world around him.

    Just some suggestions.

    Or of course you can write both and see which you like best to try and sell first. Both books need to be self-contained anyway so it's not like you lose much by writing both as if they are the first in a series and seeing which one comes out as more marketable and accessible.
     
  23. Millamber

    Millamber Senior Member

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    I actually really like the idea of either having book 1 from the antagonists point of view, or having the story actually run from two PoVs (if I can work out how that could fit) so that you have one side, the hero finally gaining powers etc, and secondly, the incoming invasion, information on the court and king that is coming to invade, etc. Two sides in the same book, so to speak?
     

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