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You have a duty to your genre.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Skybreaker Sin K'al, Jun 28, 2018.

  1. Skybreaker Sin K'al

    Skybreaker Sin K'al Troubadour

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    Whichever genre you are writing in, I want to share this thought with you.

    You have a duty to change your genre; to expand its horizons and most importantly bring something new to the table.

    I write in fantasy. Goodkind brought us the chosen one. Martin brought us realism. Sanderson brought us proper magic systems. Now, I think it is my duty to add something new to this genre.

    What are you bringing to the table?
     
  2. I'm genre busting, so does that mean I have a duty to play around with as many genres as possible? The only problem is, I don't like westerns. :p
     
  3. Skybreaker Sin K'al

    Skybreaker Sin K'al Troubadour

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    This post is addressed specifically to people writing in a genre, but what does westerns have to do with this?
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  4. It's the only genre I haven't piled into my series. I was just trying to be funny. *backs away slowly*
     
  5. Skybreaker Sin K'al

    Skybreaker Sin K'al Troubadour

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    Oh, right!

    I didn't understand for a second. Stephen king does this with The Dark Tower, and effectively created his own genre. I can see the same thing happening with your story.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  6. No worries. In just the second book of my first series alone, I have fantasy, soft sci-fi, romance, family dynamics, mystery, and a touch of horror.
     
  7. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Sorry, but I'm going to respectfully diasagree.

    Now, it's always, IMHO, a good thing to push the boundaries and push your skills, but I don't think anyone must do anything but write an honest story.

    Sometimes that story may expand horizons. Sometimes that story may tread on familiar ground. All that matters is that it's the author's story and that they tell it in a truthful manner.

    Sometimes the simplest stories that are told well and tread over familiar ground are the most powerful and touch the most people.

    Everything has been done before, but everyone already brings something unique to the table and that's their voice. Their personal views of the world based on their personal experience colours a story and is what makes that story unique to them.

    Not every chef needs to be a gourmet chef. Not every meal needs to be a gourmet meal. Sometime all I want is a sloppy Big Mac, not steak and frites.
     
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  8. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    My duty to genre is to please readers by writing a story that feeds their need and what they are looking for in that type of story. I honor tropes and the emotional rides readers are seeking and the reason why they read historical romance in the first place.

    As Penpilot said, your voice is the unique thing that you bring to the table. It's good to challenge yourself but trying to bust genre never really works...if you want to sell books. Now, not every writer wants to sell books so to each their own. :)
     
    Rkcapps and Skybreaker Sin K'al like this.
  9. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    The only duty you have, is the duty you lay out for yourself. If you write to entertain, better make sure it's entertaining to your target audience. If you write to educate, than make sure your work is educational. If you write to motivate, if you write to call to action, if you write to make others think...yada yada yada, you get my point.
     
    Rkcapps and Skybreaker Sin K'al like this.
  10. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Yep. This.

    Goodkind did not bring us "the chosen one". The Bible did, and arguably the trope had been around in storytelling for thousands of years before then. There is nothing "new" to bring to a genre, other than your own voice and perspective.
     
  11. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Sanderson, proper magic systems? Hell, just further ripoffs of house ruled RPG games, LOL. Don't get me wrong, Sanderson is fine, but the idea these people brought us these three things is amusing.
     
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  12. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Yep. I have a guilty admiration for Terry Goodkind because my 14 year old self had the hots for Richard Cypher, and at that time I was a budding libertarian.... but he didn't bring us "the chosen one."
     
    Rkcapps likes this.
  13. I don't think everyone feels this calling. I definitely do, though. To bring not necessarily something new, but something different and something very, very good.
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I'm another who doesn't see much point in genre-busting, mainly because I regard genres as the invention of literary critics and agents, supplemented by the practical needs of bookstores and libraries. Genres aren't real; they are abstractions. Only the stories themselves are real, and while one can see similarities and so invent genre categories in which to group them, one can just as readily see what is unique in each and point out that A doesn't really belong on the same shelf as B.

    I also wonder about that gerundive "busting". Given that the genre is an abstraction, what does it take to bust one? Is it sufficient to introduce a single novelty? Do any of us really think we've got something utterly unprecedented? Does busting mean one has written something so new that it spawns a new genre or sub-genre? I'm thinking here of something like Gibson's Necromancer. How is one to know if one's story has busted a genre?

    And finally, I believe there is merit in putting new wine in old bottles. I would very much admire any story that genuinely gets me excited about the farm boy of destiny, or warms my heart with an wise, old wizard. Indeed, I'd argue that writing such a story is every bit as difficult as busting a genre (I keep thinking of untamed horses...).

    In short, I wish all good fortune to anyone who wants to blaze a new trail. I wish the same good fortune to anyone who wishes to put new pavement on old roads. To that I would add commiseration and sympathy to the rest of us poor sods who only want to get the wretched thing written and let others figure out where to shelve it!
     
  15. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Look, I'm a huge fan of original ideas, of learning to be creative on every page, and of pushing at the quality of your concepts.

    But, I don't think everyone needs to push the genre all that hard. There are people who bring us something entirely new, and then there are people who "follow" that new idea and spend their time applying it to other areas of the genre. Somebody gave us steampunk, and somebody else gave us tinkering goblins and gnomes, or Midgar from Final Fantasy VII, and other uses of fantasy steam tech. Finally there are people who offer even less by way of creativity, just a solid story. I think that's fine.

    By the way, what GRRM gave us wasn't "realism." (It's not particularly unique in that regard, and it isn't actually all that realistic.) What GRRM did that's unique was offer a story that balances what's getting close to a thousand political power players (I looked it up, and it's reached over 2,000 named characters).
     
  16. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    You're kidding, right? Please tell me you're kidding. You really need to read more.
     
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  17. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    A lot of writers want to bend genre but what they don't yet understand is that genre is the way we communicate with readers, that and tropes. What I see plenty of (on this site and others like it) are writers who want to be different by busting this and adding in that. How are readers supposed to understand your work if it doesn't have parameters?

    Genre= expectations. It's totally okay to mix genres (like fantasy romance, or military sci fi, or historical fantasy) but these stories will still technically be fantasy or science fiction. Genre also= plot. Romance genre= a romance plot. A fantasy romance is a romance (genre and plot) with a fantastical setting and occurrences. But it is still romance.

    I just don't get why newer writers try to be so different in drastic ways that readers can't then connect with their work. We differ ourselves by our voice and tastes, the same way we do in real life. There needs to be a serious amount of confidence built up inside a writer. They need to be able to love their genre and respect the expectations that readers have for it. I'm not going to try and kill one of the heroes in my historical romances because I'm trying to flex my genre muscles. Readers would cream me with bad reviews. What I am going to do, however, is continue honing my voice and improving in my craft, so that when they pick up one of my books they are drawn in by the way I tell a story. It will be different than other authors in my genre. And that's totally the point, not breaking genre.
     
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  18. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I notice this as well... I can't answer for everyone, obviously, but my theory is that new writers think that if they can come up with a flashy "gimmick" then their story will be "cool" and therefor, "popular." (So many corny quotations, lol).

    I've noticed this as a general trend. It takes a few years and a few failures and some major growing into your own voice before you start to understand that a good story comes from being able to write a true, authentic, and well written story. Good stories, quality stories, do not need gimmicks. They don't need fancy new monsters, or a twist on theme, or the biggest most badass setting ever. Good stories are about authentic emotions. Events that feel true and real, written in such a way that is clear and free of distractions. But it takes some time and development of chops to get to that point.
     
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  19. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    On principle, I hate the idea that people have any kind of inherent duty to change anything just because they are involved in the thing.
    Me underlining, emboldening and italicizing the word "hate" is insufficient in expressing my hatred for that position.

    I also hate when people who are into a genre of art deify that genre. Like people who think rock music is a mystical, spiritual thing and act like Chuck Berry or Jimi Hendrix are saints to the religion of rock.
    My hatred for that idea is not as severe hence why I only emboldened the word.
    (as a sidenote: this mindset caused me to ditch playing guitar in favor of getting into hip hop and electronic music production. I've been much happier with that than when I was playing in rock bands)

    As an artist of any format, I don't have any duty to anyone or anything. I do my art because I enjoy doing it. Not out of responsibility.
    I don't like people telling me I have some kind of responsibility that I didn't sign-up to have. I have too much in my life to be responsible for already. I just want to enjoy fantasy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  20. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I really have to respond to this because I LOVE it. My grandmother paints water colour. She likes to paint. It is a creative outlet for her. She participates in a lot of local events and art shows. She has had a few pieces shown in local galleries and she has made a bit of money off of them. She loves what she does.

    Would you ever see what she paints in a major gallery? No. Will she ever make enough to support herself? No. She paints standard water colour scenes of the northern lights and Arizona deserts and sometimes a fish or two. Her stuff is lovely and colourful and makes nice thank-you cards, sold for $2.99 at a craft show.

    Does she have a responsibility to change her genre? To change the way we feel about landscapes? To push the boundaries of water colour? I think not. That is asinine. She has a responsibility to herself only. To do what she loves. To creates what she feels. To sell her note cards at craft markets and sometimes sell an original in a gallery for a few hundred bucks. She has a responsibility to find the path and balance that makes her happy.

    As a writer, that is what I hope for. The thing I'm responsible for is myself.
     
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