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My WIP's Genre Needs a Name (1 Viewer)

Llyralen

Senior Member
The genre I'm working in is often called "Groundhog Day" for lack of a better name because there isn't a real name for it. I overlooked this genre as my WIPs genre because there wasn't a name! Plus my story isn't very much like Groundhog Day. Not having a name has made it very difficult to discuss my story with other people even though I was sure I wasn't making a new genre.

The main aspects of the genre are:
--The MC gets to go back and "try again" or change the plot and circumstances that have already been shown to us
--Fixing something--- relationships, appreciation for life, the outcome of a war, saving someone's life-- is a key plotline.
--There is usually a strong sense/vision for the reader of the ideal or what ought to happen as often they are given a peak of what shouldn't happen.
--Often (but not always) there is a special type of person who appears, sometimes representing an organization or spiritual power, to help the MC make sense of what is happening.
--Sometimes reincarnation plays a part, sometimes time looping or alternate timelines, sometimes a bit of Time Travel, but the emphasis is on being allowed to "fix" and "change" something.


Examples are: Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol (probably the oldest), The Adjustment Bureau, The Family Man, If Only, Sliding Doors, Source Code, Tiny Perfect Things. It's been around for a long time. Some of these stories don't trigger thoughts of Groundhog Day. It really has been a problem for me that the genre doesn't have a good name!

When I was studying other kinds of stories like mine, I looked at Time Travel stories because there is a little Time Travel in mine and that's what I was calling it when people asked me. In fact, I asked people if they would want to read a Time Travel story where the emphasis wasn't the Time Travel and they said it didn't sound promising, what was the point of Time Traveling if there wasn't a "everything is new" factor and they thought I must not have my story plotted. You can imagine the problem of calling Groundhog Day a Time Travel story? Time Travel is usually expected to be adventure.

I was thinking of calling it "Second Chance" genre, but there is often more than just a second chance. "Try Again" genre. "Do-Over" stories. "Looping" genre. These would work.
What do you guys think? And also, I found someone today who made a pretty exhaustive list of the movies, they did call their list the Groundhog Day genre:
 
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Lawless

Senior Member
I don't know how helpful it is, but in the past I used to have the impression that every movie that didn't fall into any particular genre was called "psychological drama".
:)

Can your piece be called supernatural? I don't really know what exactly is considered a genre and what isn't.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
You've missed "12:01 AM" which is a wonderful treatment of the idea with Helen Slater and Jonathan Silverman.

I suppose the genre depends on how the time loop happens. If it's technological, it's sci-fi. :) Otherwise it's some sort of mystical concept.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I would also appreciate feedback about trying out a few beginnings. Let me know which one you like and if they make sense:

Beginning A:
Early cicadas start to hum as I stand in the place where I know I will be buried in less than a month. I just know, and I know Granny knows. The bright green of the grass is dappled by swishing shadows and the petals of the apple tree in bloom. Whatever I am, whatever is inside me, was made here. With its wide crook and its five trunks like five fingers, most days I lay cradled on it's open palm reading.

My baby turns a few summersaults, likely neither of us very comfortable at this late stage. Still, it seems like my baby feels safe in the dark cocoon of my body, hearing my heartbeat. "No one can ever be physically closer than you are to me, even your daddy." I whisper. "This is something only you and I share."

The question that tortures me in every life is if my baby will be buried here too. If so, will my baby be besides me or lying in my dead body? Do Michael and Granny raise my baby? Maybe this life I'll get closer to the truth, I've still got a few weeks, but every life Fate's fingers are busy in my business.

For me, time is stuck like a broken record, playing the same life over and over. I'm born April 22nd, 1944. I'm raised by my Granny in this house. I fall in love with Michael Collins. We get married. He goes to war. I am pregnant and before I'm ever in labor, it all starts again, as if a scratch bounced the needle back to the exact same place. I don't know if the whole world bounces back with me to the beginning and I am the only one who remembers the previous lives? Or if a new record is started each time and plays on, plays on without me. In alternative times do each of these worlds exist playing on? All I know is that I'm the constant. I'm the needle.

I bet you would like to know too if your memory has been wiped clean or if there are multiple versions of you scattered through time? In all my lives I haven't found out and I don't expect I will this time either, but I always try.

"Lily!" Granny stands above me on the hill, hair wet, in her skirt and silk chemise with a towel around her neck. "Do we need to get to church early for you to play the hymns?"

"Shouldn't. Just need to not be late."

"Well, it's getting late," she turns, knowing I'll follow, "And it's airish as hell out here. I guess you can't be visiting without visiting your tree. Maybe get some of that asparagus by the corner side of the house for supper later, don't that sound good? Did you see Ginger so big? I'm guessing she's got 8 or 9 puppies in there, can you imagine? You coming?"

"I'm coming"
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Beginning B:

Once again, It’s the first day of Spring,, 1972. I’m always born on April 22, 1944. I’m always named Lily Marie Harper. I fall in love. I marry my sweetheart. I become pregnant and I always die not knowing what happens to my unborn baby and then I’m born again. I’ve lived more times than I can count.

I don’t know if everyone repeats their life with me or is copied each time I’m born. Let me give you two visuals on that: Either we are on one journey getting rolled over and over again in the laundry and I’m just special because I can remember all the times we’ve rolled around. Or, every time I’m born a new world is created, making thousands of nearly identical copies all fanning into space from 1944 like straws from a broom handle. Both ideas seem too grandiose to have originated with little ‘ol me, but one of them must be true. I bet you’d like to know for yourself if you’re in the laundry or riding a broom straw. I don’t have an answer for you, and I don’t necessarily expect to find out in this particular life either.

Granny writes that I should come home to the Ozarks to birth my baby. I wish I could say yes, but I don’t know what happens after April 1972. Each life I try to make it further, live a day longer. Granny would stomp her feet. I can hear her now, saying, “Lil, love is stronger than time. Don’t you know that?” Maybe love is stronger for Granny, but for me, time just gets stuck. I want to die old with Michael, with a parcel of grandchildren surrounding us, but I can’t seem to get there.

I wake up before the alarm clock. The hoarfrost pattern on the window tells me nothing has changed, not by the smallest fraction, from most of my other lives. It won’t warm up for another 4 weeks. I put on baggy corduroys and Converse sneakers that I tie loosely over swollen feet. I sing “Jimmy Crack Corn” going down the stairwell. The echo of “And I don’t care!” fades as I step outside and a nimbus of tiny swirling snowflakes surrounds me.

Someone plays Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” in the tunnel entering Central Park. When I reach the Guggenheim at 9:00 am, there is still a hint of sherbet light hitting the bulbus architecture.

Today is the opening for Rodin Drawings: True or False. I know my favorite sculpture, The Kiss, will be there as well. The sculpture was originally part of The Gates of Hell, Rodin’s tribute to Dante. It’s my favorite piece of art and it satisfies something in me few things do. I sit and take in every angle of Francesca’s and Paolo’s naked forms. I don’t worry if others have seen enough after a minute or two and hurry away. My baby turns a few somersaults.

Behind the Rodin, my eyes refocus. I see a woman who I’ve never seen before looking at The Kiss. At first seeing someone new is surreal, as if I’m staring at another piece of art at the Guggenheim. African American, maybe some Native American. She is very tall and muscled, maybe middle-aged, maybe a bit younger. She is dressed at the peak of fashion, with afroed hair and a camel pea coat. Her cheek bones and nose are prominent and her lips full. She is the type of person it is impossible to forget. This is someone who commands the attention of the room. I have never seen her before. Not in this life, not in my other lives. I haven’t felt surprise in so long that I freeze. She catches me looking at her, she nods and smiles with the corners of her mouth.



Pros? Cons? Likes? Dislikes? Comparisons? Compliments? Complaints?
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Recurring Plot/Second Chance?

I'm also disappointed you missed the glorious cheese that was Quantum Leap.

Ah, I loved Quantum Leap when I was a little girl. JBF, weren't you writing a story that made me think of It's a Wonderful Life? And I included It's a Wonderful Life here. Have you written this genre? And did you run into problems describing the WIP's genre to people?
 
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Llyralen

Senior Member
You've missed "12:01 AM" which is a wonderful treatment of the idea with Helen Slater and Jonathan Silverman.

I suppose the genre depends on how the time loop happens. If it's technological, it's sci-fi. :) Otherwise it's some sort of mystical concept.

Thank you, I will totally check it out and glad to have new ones to research. I think there's also this new one that got bad reviews with Mark Wahlberg... called Infinite. I haven't seen it yet, but my husband has been teasing me that Marky Mark beat me to the punch. I think "Sci-fi " is too broad, though, it really wouldn't help someone understand what these stories emphasize. Like you wouldn't call Groundhog Day a Sci-Fi. I would say that most of the list leans to mythical. Mine kind of leans mythical as well, but "Fantasy" is way too broad.
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
Ah, I loved Quantum Leap when I was a little girl. JBF, weren't you writing a story that made me think of It's a Wonderful Life? And I included It's a Wonderful Life here. Have you written this genre? And did you run into problems describing the WIP's genre to people?

I recall talking about it. I think the connection to It's A Wonderful Life was more in the changing mindset of the protag - he wasn't really shaping up into the man he wanted to be as a kid, but he thinks on it and eventually concludes that who he did become and where he ended up wasn't too bad, either. There was also some talk of letting go of one's dreams in the service of a greater good.

Never written in this particular structure, though.

For genre, I just got lazy and called it either a character study or lit-fic that grew out of a war story.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Thank you, I will totally check it out and glad to have new ones to research. I think there's also this new one that got bad reviews with Mark Wahlberg... called Infinite. I haven't seen it yet, but my husband has been teasing me that Marky Mark beat me to the punch. I think "Sci-fi " is too broad, though, it really wouldn't help someone understand what these stories emphasize. Like you wouldn't call Groundhog Day a Sci-Fi. I would say that most of the list leans to mythical. Mine kind of leans mythical as well, but "Fantasy" is way too broad.
Nope, they thought about explaining the time loop in Groundhog Day, but decided it was irrelevant. So it exists as Comedy. sometimes listed as Fantasy/Comedy.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I don't know how helpful it is, but in the past I used to have the impression that every movie that didn't fall into any particular genre was called "psychological drama".
:)

Can your piece be called supernatural? I don't really know what exactly is considered a genre and what isn't.
Well, it is supernatural (a broad term), but I think for books they usually use the word supernatural for paranormal genre (usually more towards horror). I will tell you why it's hard to figure out genre names, it's because some of the names don't stay the same or they overlap or people use them differently OR people don't name them!!! But for marketing it really is pretty important because you don't want to disappoint your readers. There are about 20 different named kinds of fantasy sub-genres, for instance, and maybe more. There are some pretty specific things that people like. Like lets say... Arthurian Steampunk fantasy. That's probably a thing... anyway, sometimes people will read everything that is in a super niched subgenre.

I always use the example of the movie "Marley and Me" about false advertising/false labeling/ false marketing. The preview made it look like a comedy about a over-grown puppy and we took our 6 year old twins to see it and it surprised us by being a fairly serious memoir that ended in tragedy. My husband's family dog had just barely died and we left pretty upset. lol. We wouldn't have taken our little ones to that right then. Correct marketing is important!
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Nope, they thought about explaining the time loop in Groundhog Day, but decided it was irrelevant. So it exists as Comedy. sometimes listed as Fantasy/Comedy.
Huh! I didn't know Groundhog Day had a explanation of their time loop ready to go! I'll have to look into that. I also have an explanation in mine. It'd say mine is 75% mythical and 25% sci-fi. I have listed to Neil Degrass Tyson and Brian Cox and some of those ideas gave some body to my mechanism.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I recall talking about it. I think the connection to It's A Wonderful Life was more in the changing mindset of the protag - he wasn't really shaping up into the man he wanted to be as a kid, but he thinks on it and eventually concludes that who he did become and where he ended up wasn't too bad, either. There was also some talk of letting go of one's dreams in the service of a greater good.

Never written in this particular structure, though.

For genre, I just got lazy and called it either a character study or lit-fic that grew out of a war story.
I remember being very interested in the concept. I think this is why I'm writing in this genre, I think it's lush for self-development and examination. It sounds like lit-fic would work for your book--- I think with mine I've got too much actual Time Travel to have lit-fit work. I guess people who I'm just talking to don't have to have it explained exactly, but publishers, editors, etc I think need to hear the correct genre. How far along is your WIP, btw? I plan to get it when it's published.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I don't think it's a genre. It's a plot device. Groundhog day was a comedy/romance, Edge of Tomorrow was sci-fy and so on. Most tend to be sci-fy though, for obvious reasons.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I don't think it's a genre. It's a plot device. Groundhog day was a comedy/romance, Edge of Tomorrow was sci-fy and so on. Most tend to be sci-fy though, for obvious reasons.
Could be. There are a lot of people calling genres genres that might just have a plot device in common, though. And otherwise my book doesn’t exactly fit the big traditional genres.

Can I please ask for your thoughts on those openers?
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Could be. There are a lot of people calling genres genres that might just have a plot device in common, though. And otherwise my book doesn’t exactly fit the big traditional genres.

Can I please ask for your thoughts on those openers?
I'll check them out later. I'm killing myself on my own opener at the moment and have a headache ...
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I would also appreciate feedback about trying out a few beginnings. Let me know which one you like and if they make sense:

Beginning A:
Early cicadas start to hum as I stand in the place where I know I will be buried in less than a month. I just know, and I know Granny knows. The bright green of the grass is dappled by swishing shadows and the petals of the apple tree in bloom. Whatever I am, whatever is inside me, was made here. With its wide crook and its five trunks like five fingers, most days I lay cradled on it's open palm reading.

My baby turns a few summersaults, likely neither of us very comfortable at this late stage. Still, it seems like my baby feels safe in the dark cocoon of my body, hearing my heartbeat. "No one can ever be physically closer than you are to me, even your daddy." I whisper. "This is something only you and I share."

The question that tortures me in every life is if my baby will be buried here too. If so, will my baby be besides me or lying in my dead body? Do Michael and Granny raise my baby? Maybe this life I'll get closer to the truth, I've still got a few weeks, but every life Fate's fingers are busy in my business.

For me, time is stuck like a broken record, playing the same life over and over. I'm born April 22nd, 1944. I'm raised by my Granny in this house. I fall in love with Michael Collins. We get married. He goes to war. I am pregnant and before I'm ever in labor, it all starts again, as if a scratch bounced the needle back to the exact same place. I don't know if the whole world bounces back with me to the beginning and I am the only one who remembers the previous lives? Or if a new record is started each time and plays on, plays on without me. In alternative times do each of these worlds exist playing on? All I know is that I'm the constant. I'm the needle.

I bet you would like to know too if your memory has been wiped clean or if there are multiple versions of you scattered through time? In all my lives I haven't found out and I don't expect I will this time either, but I always try.

"Lily!" Granny stands above me on the hill, hair wet, in her skirt and silk chemise with a towel around her neck. "Do we need to get to church early for you to play the hymns?"

"Shouldn't. Just need to not be late."

"Well, it's getting late," she turns, knowing I'll follow, "And it's airish as hell out here. I guess you can't be visiting without visiting your tree. Maybe get some of that asparagus by the corner side of the house for supper later, don't that sound good? Did you see Ginger so big? I'm guessing she's got 8 or 9 puppies in there, can you imagine? You coming?"

"I'm coming"
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Beginning B:
Once again, It’s the first day of Spring,, 1972. I’m always born on April 22, 1944. I’m always named Lily Marie Harper. I fall in love. I marry my sweetheart. I become pregnant and I always die not knowing what happens to my unborn baby and then I’m born again. I’ve lived more times than I can count.

I don’t know if everyone repeats their life with me or is copied each time I’m born. Let me give you two visuals on that: Either we are on one journey getting rolled over and over again in the laundry and I’m just special because I can remember all the times we’ve rolled around. Or, every time I’m born a new world is created, making thousands of nearly identical copies all fanning into space from 1944 like straws from a broom handle. Both ideas seem too grandiose to have originated with little ‘ol me, but one of them must be true. I bet you’d like to know for yourself if you’re in the laundry or riding a broom straw. I don’t have an answer for you, and I don’t necessarily expect to find out in this particular life either.

Granny writes that I should come home to the Ozarks to birth my baby. I wish I could say yes, but I don’t know what happens after April 1972. Each life I try to make it further, live a day longer. Granny would stomp her feet. I can hear her now, saying, “Lil, love is stronger than time. Don’t you know that?” Maybe love is stronger for Granny, but for me, time just gets stuck. I want to die old with Michael, with a parcel of grandchildren surrounding us, but I can’t seem to get there.

I wake up before the alarm clock. The hoarfrost pattern on the window tells me nothing has changed, not by the smallest fraction, from most of my other lives. It won’t warm up for another 4 weeks. I put on baggy corduroys and Converse sneakers that I tie loosely over swollen feet. I sing “Jimmy Crack Corn” going down the stairwell. The echo of “And I don’t care!” fades as I step outside and a nimbus of tiny swirling snowflakes surrounds me.

Someone plays Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” in the tunnel entering Central Park. When I reach the Guggenheim at 9:00 am, there is still a hint of sherbet light hitting the bulbus architecture.

Today is the opening for Rodin Drawings: True or False. I know my favorite sculpture, The Kiss, will be there as well. The sculpture was originally part of The Gates of Hell, Rodin’s tribute to Dante. It’s my favorite piece of art and it satisfies something in me few things do. I sit and take in every angle of Francesca’s and Paolo’s naked forms. I don’t worry if others have seen enough after a minute or two and hurry away. My baby turns a few somersaults.

Behind the Rodin, my eyes refocus. I see a woman who I’ve never seen before looking at The Kiss. At first seeing someone new is surreal, as if I’m staring at another piece of art at the Guggenheim. African American, maybe some Native American. She is very tall and muscled, maybe middle-aged, maybe a bit younger. She is dressed at the peak of fashion, with afroed hair and a camel pea coat. Her cheek bones and nose are prominent and her lips full. She is the type of person it is impossible to forget. This is someone who commands the attention of the room. I have never seen her before. Not in this life, not in my other lives. I haven’t felt surprise in so long that I freeze. She catches me looking at her, she nods and smiles with the corners of her mouth.



Pros? Cons? Likes? Dislikes? Comparisons? Compliments? Complaints?
I prefer the first version overall but prefer the opening paragraph of the second version. This all feels rather familiar ... The only thing I would say about the 'concept' is she seems to know too much about the possible ramifications. In my story, it's not until we meet Yarrod's mother that we find out about 'ripples' and Yarrod's movement between them.

Some really great stuff here though. If you want to post a couple of paragraphs in my craft thread for a deeper dive, then feel free! All I can say is you've got great depth in this but sometimes it isn't expressed quite as elegantly as it could be.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I prefer the first version overall but prefer the opening paragraph of the second version. This all feels rather familiar ... The only thing I would say about the 'concept' is she seems to know too much about the possible ramifications. In my story, it's not until we meet Yarrod's mother that we find out about 'ripples' and Yarrod's movement between them.

Some really great stuff here though. If you want to post a couple of paragraphs in my craft thread for a deeper dive, then feel free! All I can say is you've got great depth in this but sometimes it isn't expressed quite as elegantly as it could be.
I was hoping to discuss them here They are long excerpts and I want to discuss them back to back. I thought I’d post shorter and more in-the-middle stuff in your other thread— a thread I’m very glad you started.

When I first wrote my story then I slowly fed the concept of the story to the audience like steady clues and nobody got it. Everyone was confused. Too subtle. I found I had to use a sledge hammer of exposition right up front. The story isn’t about finding out what has been happening, so I’m finding it difficult to let everyone know what is going on ASAP so that I can then move forward. except that I guess I could kill her once to show… hmm…

I think the second opening I took pains to built up the stakes, that is probably missing from the first one.
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
I remember being very interested in the concept. I think this is why I'm writing in this genre, I think it's lush for self-development and examination. It sounds like lit-fic would work for your book--- I think with mine I've got too much actual Time Travel to have lit-fit work. I guess people who I'm just talking to don't have to have it explained exactly, but publishers, editors, etc I think need to hear the correct genre. How far along is your WIP, btw? I plan to get it when it's published.

Still in the plotting stages, unfortunately. I'm working on a string of semi-related shorts and the odd LM entry to establish character backgrounds. Sort of a science project to root the characters and see how they function in controlled environments before I turn them loose on the main story line.

It does occur to me that I may be wandering adjacent to your genre, at least in on regard. As plotted so far, our fearless MC spends most of Book II trying to untangle the mess he's made of his life to date. A big part of that is learning the truth about things he never knew when he was younger - some weren't apparent, some he assumed, and some that were actively kept from him. His father dying in a car accident when he was seven is one of those things. Later on he starts running into people with different versions of the past, most of those better supported by fact.

When he gets a better sense of the big picture he sees some unsettling parallels and realizes the trajectory of why his life is an ongoing trainwreck, where it may lead if not corrected, and that there's really no easy white hat/black hat split. Still, if he can't fix the past he at least knows what to look for in the present.

It'll probably be a desert soap opera with gunfire, but...par for the course, I guess.
 
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TheMightyAz

Mentor
I was hoping to discuss them here They are long excerpts and I want to discuss them back to back. I thought I’d post shorter and more in-the-middle stuff in your other thread— a thread I’m very glad you started.

When I first wrote my story then I slowly fed the concept of the story to the audience like steady clues and nobody got it. Everyone was confused. Too subtle. I found I had to use a sledge hammer of exposition right up front. The story isn’t about finding out what has been happening, so I’m finding it difficult to let everyone know what is going on ASAP so that I can then move forward. except that I guess I could kill her once to show… hmm…

I think the second opening I took pains to built up the stakes, that is probably missing from the first one.
Fair enough. I like some of the thoughts that go into this too. This stood out though:

The question that tortures me in every life is if my baby will be buried here too. If so, will my baby be besides me or lying in my dead body? Do Michael and Granny raise my baby? Maybe this life I'll get closer to the truth, I've still got a few weeks, but every life Fate's fingers are busy in my business.

As a concept that's wonderful to me, if someone gruesome to consider. It's real though and that's what counts. The idea of a body being interred and a smaller body being interred within that body is something I'd love to play with. The only problem here is the way it's expressed. You could argue what you've just said is she'll be buried with the living baby inside her. To get around this and to focus on what I think is the more powerful aspect, would be to write it the opposite way. You begin that way but don't fully explore the idea at first. You simply worry the baby could be buried here too. I'd focus entirely on the baby being buried here within the protag. There's something very interesting about what you've said there that could, if written correctly, give certain people in society pause for thought. I'm not saying to moralise or to overtly state 'wrong' or 'right' here. I'm simply saying it's a little moment something more could be layered in.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
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