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Owning up about your genre (1 Viewer)

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Llyralen

Senior Member
https://medium.com/the-coffeelicious/genre-expectations-327d343be4fa

Hopefully this article will help someone else as well as me. I did a lot of reading last night on blogs about reader expectations and Im really glad that I did because although I haven’t learned yet what the holy grail is on getting your reader to care, I did have to own up that my historical fiction on the Greenland Norse is predominantly a romance. I mean it’s supposed to be character-driven, but its core is probably romance. Eek!

What do you think of this article? Any clarity for anyone else?

Also, this article on set-up and pay-off and scenes was very helpful to me. But what do you guys think? https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.janefriedman.com/writing-scenes-setup-payoff/amp/
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
An excellent article. As someone who is also struggling with what genre to call my novel it registered with me. The concept of not disappointing your reader is important. I've come to the conclusion, that I have a story to tell and I shouldn't focus too much on the genre, for fear I will wash down the story by responding to tropes. However, this article made me aware, that it's important to market it properly, so as not to let anyone down. It also makes me realize how important the back blurb and cover design design are. You gotta let people know what's inside the book!

I remember how desperately I wanted to buy the Twilight series, because I loved the names and I LOVED the cover designs. But each time I would pick one up and read the back blurb, I knew it wasn't for me.


EDIT: You can read about them here and how they don't represent the genre per se:

https://screenrant.com/twilight-midnight-sun-books-covers-meanings-explained/
 
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luckyscars

WF Veterans
The fundamental problem is that writers think about genre differently than readers.

To a writer, genre is about more than just the section of the bookshop. To many writers, genre is about their writing identity. To many science fiction, horror, romance writers the genre they identify their work as being is an inextricable part of who they are -- i.e. they are not 'writers' but 'horror writers' and therefore everything they write should as closely resemble 'horror writing' as possible, lest the story be dismissed as 'not working'.

Oh, perhaps on occasion the horror writer will allow some melding with other, closely related genres, and thus we get these ill-defined, red-headed stepchildren genres like 'weird fiction', but for the most part people stay within the bounds of what they want their story to be, not what it actually is. We encounter this all the time and I think almost everybody, at some point, has fallen into the trap. I know I have.

In my opinion, this is the reason -- really the only reason -- why picking out a genre is 'hard'. It's hard because we want the book to represent us, but that's not the right way to look at it. The fact is just about EVERY book CAN work if only it is allowed to happen organically. If we find a humor book isn't funny, it may well have nothing to do with the book not being good and everything to do with it not actually being a humor book but something else. And yet, many writers WILL throw it in the trash.

So, a few hot takes:

1 - Refrain as much as possible from describing yourself/your work as belonging to a particular genre. Lots of really good writers dabble in multiple genres, often ones that are quite diverse. Margaret Atwood was not considered a writer of dystopia prior to The Handmaid's Tale and her work since has varied. Books belong to genres, writers do not. Approach every project as open mindedly as you can.

2 - Even if you really do 'only write science fiction' there's absolutely no benefit to pigeonholing yourself as a 'science fiction writer', at least not beyond the most basic needs (say, to join a society). Think of yourself as a writer, nothing more. Willing and able to try anything, and your work will be better for it.

3 - When considering what genre a book is, if in doubt, just keep it simple and focused on what is clear and obvious. Star Wars isn't really science fiction in any intellectual sense (there's almost no science, for one thing) and yet it absolutely does belong to that genre for marketing purposes, simply because it is set in space. If your story has dragons and castles, it's probably fantasy. If it has the paranormal and is scary, it's probably horror (if it has the paranormal and is not scary, it's probably fantasy). Is this oversimplifying the issue? Yes, it absolutely is, but that's the point. This doesn't need a lot of stress. This is about figuring out what shelf at the library this would sit on, nothing more.

4 - CONSIDER THE READER. The only thing that matters here. It doesn't matter if you, the writer, think it could be a genre. This isn't about you. What matters is whether Joe Average would see it that way.

5 - If the book does not seem to have any dominating genre, or doesn't seem to fit into what is obvious, consider if there are any issues in the story itself. It could be too diffuse. How many settings does it include? How many main characters? What are the main themes? If the main themes are collectively focused on the darker sides of human nature, it makes no sense to call the book a romance (unless it's a dark romance!) Jaws is a horror novel for the simple reason that it's terrifying and the themes it incorporates are largely pretty similar to a horror novel -- unnatural evil, etc.

6 - If the book blends numerous genres (most books that are touted as being of multiple genres are not really and the average 'sci-fi horror with themes of romance and crime' is just word salad for a writer too neurotic to make a decision) then I find a good rule of thumb is to go in order of CHARACTER(S) > SETTING > THEME(S). Jaws is about a shark. Sharks don't belong to a particular genre. Jaws is set on/near the sea. The sea, also, does not belong to a particular genre. Therefore, the genre comes from the theme. On the other hand, Alien is about an alien, which is typically belonging to science fiction. Alien takes place on a spaceship, also science fiction. The actual themes of Alien, however, are closer to horror. Nevertheless, the appropriate 'shelf' for Alien would likely still be science fiction because the character and setting both 'belong' to that genre. Again, this isn't an intellectual exercise, we aren't super interested in the literary concepts, but about dressing a mannequin in a store window.

ETA 7 - ALWAYS BE LOOKING TO SUBVERT THE TROPES! The wizard is a kind old man? Make him an evil child. Terry Pratchett made an entire career out of this.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
This article is good, and talks a bit more about mixed-genre books and what to do. At the end this author talks about preparing her readers for a book that’s different than her others:
https://main.nightowlreviews.com/v5...cles/genre-expectations-by-tracy-cooper-posey

You know how the movie Knives Out switched from mystery to thriller to mystery successfully? Well here is someone critiquing a book that must have been unsuccessful at it. https://elizabethspanncraig.com/business-of-writing/reader-expectations-for-genre/


I get a bit angry if the trailer is mis-marketing a movie— and the fact that it can be Mia-marketed just shows how much you do get certain expectations.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
The fundamental problem is that writers think about genre differently than readers.

To a writer, genre is about more than just the section of the bookshop. To many writers, genre is about their writing identity. To many science fiction, horror, romance writers the genre they identify their work as being is an inextricable part of who they are -- i.e. they are not 'writers' but 'horror writers' and therefore everything they write should as closely resemble 'horror writing' as possible, lest the story be dismissed as 'not working'.

Oh, perhaps on occasion the horror writer will allow some melding with other, closely related genres, and thus we get these ill-defined, red-headed stepchildren genres like 'weird fiction', but for the most part people stay within the bounds of what they want their story to be, not what it actually is. We encounter this all the time and I think almost everybody, at some point, has fallen into the trap. I know I have.

In my opinion, this is the reason -- really the only reason -- why picking out a genre is 'hard'. It's hard because we want the book to represent us, but that's not the right way to look at it. The fact is just about EVERY book CAN work if only it is allowed to happen organically. If we find a humor book isn't funny, it may well have nothing to do with the book not being good and everything to do with it not actually being a humor book but something else. And yet, many writers WILL throw it in the trash.

So, a few hot takes:

1 - Refrain as much as possible from describing yourself/your work as belonging to a particular genre. Lots of really good writers dabble in multiple genres, often ones that are quite diverse. Margaret Atwood was not considered a writer of dystopia prior to The Handmaid's Tale and her work since has varied. Books belong to genres, writers do not. Approach every project as open mindedly as you can.

2 - Even if you really do 'only write science fiction' there's absolutely no benefit to pigeonholing yourself as a 'science fiction writer', at least not beyond the most basic needs (say, to join a society). Think of yourself as a writer, nothing more. Willing and able to try anything, and your work will be better for it.

3 - When considering what genre a book is, if in doubt, just keep it simple and focused on what is clear and obvious. Star Wars isn't really science fiction in any intellectual sense (there's almost no science, for one thing) and yet it absolutely does belong to that genre for marketing purposes, simply because it is set in space. If your story has dragons and castles, it's probably fantasy. If it has the paranormal and is scary, it's probably horror (if it has the paranormal and is not scary, it's probably fantasy). Is this oversimplifying the issue? Yes, it absolutely is, but that's the point. This doesn't need a lot of stress. This is about figuring out what shelf at the library this would sit on, nothing more.

4 - CONSIDER THE READER. The only thing that matters here. It doesn't matter if you, the writer, think it could be a genre. This isn't about you. What matters is whether Joe Average would see it that way.

5 - If the book does not seem to have any dominating genre, or doesn't seem to fit into what is obvious, consider if there are any issues in the story itself. It could be too diffuse. How many settings does it include? How many main characters? What are the main themes? If the main themes are collectively focused on the darker sides of human nature, it makes no sense to call the book a romance (unless it's a dark romance!) Jaws is a horror novel for the simple reason that it's terrifying and the themes it incorporates are largely pretty similar to a horror novel -- unnatural evil, etc.

6 - If the book blends numerous genres (most books that are touted as being of multiple genres are not really and the average 'sci-fi horror with themes of romance and crime' is just word salad for a writer too neurotic to make a decision) then I find a good rule of thumb is to go in order of CHARACTER(S) > SETTING > THEME(S). Jaws is about a shark. Sharks don't belong to a particular genre. Jaws is set on/near the sea. The sea, also, does not belong to a particular genre. Therefore, the genre comes from the theme. On the other hand, Alien is about an alien, which is typically belonging to science fiction. Alien takes place on a spaceship, also science fiction. The actual themes of Alien, however, are closer to horror. Nevertheless, the appropriate 'shelf' for Alien would likely still be science fiction because the character and setting both 'belong' to that genre. Again, this isn't an intellectual exercise, we aren't super interested in the literary concepts, but about dressing a mannequin in a store window.

ETA 7 - ALWAYS BE LOOKING TO SUBVERT THE TROPES! The wizard is a kind old man? Make him an evil child. Terry Pratchett made an entire career out of this.

Lucky, you've drilled right down to the core.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
The fundamental problem is that writers think about genre differently than readers.

To a writer, genre is about more than just the section of the bookshop. To many writers, genre is about their writing identity.

1 - Refrain as much as possible from describing yourself/your work as belonging to a particular genre.


It is kind of a let-down (personally and identity-wise) to think what I want to be historical literary genre boils down to romance. Well, it is those other things too, hopefully. Some of these authors have luckily made me see it through the reader’s eyes a bit. Since I am also a reader it’s not hard to think of the time that the trailer for Marley and Me made us think the film was going to be a fun light-hearted chuckle about a puppy and then we left the movie theater bawling with our then 5 year old twins traumatized. Sigh... Yeah, I think labeling and avoiding false advertising is important— and it does mean such a close look at the recipient’s expectations,

I think the thing I am really trying to look at here (and have been all week) is setting up and understanding your readers expectations well so that you then can subvert them skillfully and in a way that delights your readers. This is particularly thought about in franchises like Star Wars, isn’t it? And I agree with what you said about Star Wars, it’s really a fantasy, isn’t it? I really want to try to understand everything with expectations. I think that the kind of literature I attempt to write which is the character-driven historical literature might have less defined expectations other than characters changing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on expectations on all of this, lucky.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
This article is good, and talks a bit more about mixed-genre books and what to do. At the end this author talks about preparing her readers for a book that’s different than her others:
https://main.nightowlreviews.com/v5...cles/genre-expectations-by-tracy-cooper-posey

You know how the movie Knives Out switched from mystery to thriller to mystery successfully? Well here is someone critiquing a book that must have been unsuccessful at it. https://elizabethspanncraig.com/business-of-writing/reader-expectations-for-genre/


I get a bit angry if the trailer is mis-marketing a movie— and the fact that it can be Mia-marketed just shows how much you do get certain expectations.

I thought this was an interesting post found on the newsletter above:

Readers draw conclusions from your title, cover art, and copy. Betray those expectations at your peril. Major flaw in untrained writing, right up there with faulty story structure.
The same poster talks about “OS&C”, conventions and obligatory scenes. Maybe I'm naive, but I don't even want to know what they are.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
I remember how desperately I wanted to buy the Twilight series, because I loved the names and I LOVED the cover designs. But each time I would pick one up and read the back blurb, I knew it wasn't for me.

I remember when Breaking Dawn came out. I was a little kid in Barnes and Nobel with my mother. Seeing the book on a promotional display, (a rack in the center of the store) I said something to the effect of 'Ooh, a chess piece," to which my mother replied, (again, in effect): "I don't think you're interested in that."

She was certainly right.

Anyway, that's why my current book - actually involving a ton of chess - has a chess-related name.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I remember when Breaking Dawn came out. I was a little kid in Barnes and Nobel with my mother. Seeing the book on a promotional display, (a rack in the center of the store) I said something to the effect of 'Ooh, a chess piece," to which my mother replied, (again, in effect): "I don't think you're interested in that."

She was certainly right.

Anyway, that's why my current book - actually involving a ton of chess - has a chess-related name.

Haha...that's a funny story! And of course you will have fun with the cover too...
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I thought this was an interesting post found on the newsletter above:

The same poster talks about “OS&C”, conventions and obligatory scenes. Maybe I'm naive, but I don't even want to know what they are.

I looked up OS&C. “Operating Strategy and Costs” ?? I’m not sure which link you are referring to when you said newsletter, but I looked some more of this up and found yet another link (below). I really think I/we can’t ignore all those stuff about expectations. I’ve written stories since I was a little girl, but consciously getting into the head of a reader just seems so important and it is so hard to nail down— even in all of these articles. We have our own experiences to draw from, but if I only look at my stories from my writer’s vantage point then I think it is like a magician who isn’t thinking of the showmanship of his art, maybe.

https://storygrid.com/genres-of-writing/
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I looked up OS&C. “Operating Strategy and Costs” ?? I’m not sure which link you are referring to when you said newsletter, but I looked some more of this up and found yet another link (below). I really think I/we can’t ignore all those stuff about expectations. I’ve written stories since I was a little girl, but consciously getting into the head of a reader just seems so important and it is so hard to nail down— even in all of these articles. We have our own experiences to draw from, but if I only look at my stories from my writer’s vantage point then I think it is like a magician who isn’t thinking of the showmanship of his art, maybe.

https://storygrid.com/genres-of-writing/

I was referring to the newsletter link you provided in your post:

https://elizabethspanncraig.com/business-of-writing/reader-expectations-for-genre/

And then there was another interesting link in that newsletter: Conventions and Obligatory Scenes for Genre.

https://storygrid.com/conventions-and-obligatory-moments-for-genre/

That was funny when I first read your post, I thought maybe my mind was wandering in my previous post or it picked it up from my auto correct. You know you're talking to an accountant right?
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I was referring to the newsletter link you provided in your post:

https://elizabethspanncraig.com/business-of-writing/reader-expectations-for-genre/

And then there was another interesting link in that newsletter: Conventions and Obligatory Scenes for Genre.

https://storygrid.com/conventions-and-obligatory-moments-for-genre/

That was funny when I first read your post, I thought maybe my mind was wandering in my previous post or it picked it up from my auto correct. You know you're talking to an accountant right?


Oh interesting! I did a new google search using the terms you used and of course it circled back. Lol. I think this story grid stuff is pretty good. I might have to read some of the books they are talking about. The only book I’ve ever read on writing was Steven King’s. Otherwise I thought just reading enough would do it. I didn’t want to hear about other people’s ideas of “the rules”. I am re-thinking that, I think I have to do some studying to really improve— at least gain more perspective.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
It is kind of a let-down (personally and identity-wise) to think what I want to be historical literary genre boils down to romance. Well, it is those other things too, hopefully. Some of these authors have luckily made me see it through the reader’s eyes a bit. Since I am also a reader it’s not hard to think of the time that the trailer for Marley and Me made us think the film was going to be a fun light-hearted chuckle about a puppy and then we left the movie theater bawling with our then 5 year old twins traumatized. Sigh... Yeah, I think labeling and avoiding false advertising is important— and it does mean such a close look at the recipient’s expectations,

I think the thing I am really trying to look at here (and have been all week) is setting up and understanding your readers expectations well so that you then can subvert them skillfully and in a way that delights your readers. This is particularly thought about in franchises like Star Wars, isn’t it? And I agree with what you said about Star Wars, it’s really a fantasy, isn’t it? I really want to try to understand everything with expectations. I think that the kind of literature I attempt to write which is the character-driven historical literature might have less defined expectations other than characters changing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on expectations on all of this, lucky.

I find when writing it helps to 'push the envelope' as far as you can with tropes and genre. There are limits of course, particularly regarding credibility, but this is when stories start to pop.

If you look at the kind of stuff the really good literary fiction writers put out, it's always got something that makes you go 'huh!' There's always something unexpected, some sort of twist on an old formula. The idea of subverting the 'kind old man' trope for a wizard into a horrible little child was obvious, and a bit silly, but there are things you can do while still keeping the thing feeling grounded.

Character-driven historical fiction....what period? Let's go with the French Revolution, for no particular reason, I just thought of it and know a tiny bit about it.

All right, so let's think about books written on the French Revolution...they almost always incorporate the aristocracy, usually involving them trying to avoid themselves being guillotined. We have lots of fiction on the plight of the aristocracy during the Reign Of Terror and it's all right, but you're going to struggle to write a unique take. Still, in the interests of getting some good drama, let's go with the aristocracy...

Let's have a family, the Le Havres, who are facing the CHOP(!) due to them being minor baronets or whatever. Basically, they haven't done anything wrong but are guilty by association and have just been arrested Ironically, Monsieur Le Havre was actually one of the early proponents of the socialist ideology that led to The Revolution in the first place. The family is Monsieur Le Have, his wife, their teenage daughter Francoise and son Phillippe. We will have the daughter be in love with one of the Princes, thereby cementing the reason why the Le Havres were arrested: They might have got a pass, but the revolutionaries intercepted a love letter from Francoise to the Prince. Angered, they arrested the poor family and imprisoned them in the Bastille. Will the Le Havres survive? Will the lovers be wed?

This is all really ordinary historical backdrop love story stuff.

How can we make this different?

You said character based, so lets start with character. What character can provide an interesting POV on the key events of this story? Let's create one, call him Maurice. Maurice is a poor young man who worked in the Le Havre's kitchens as a potato-peeler, where he was mistreated by the cook. In being mistreated, the previously non-ideological yet opportunist Maurice was convinced to join the revolutionaries and in fact aided in the arrest of the family he once served, blaming them even though it was the cook who was shitty to him. As reward, he is appointed to be executioner. However, gripped by guilt and secretly in love with Francoise, he agrees to try to help coordinate the family's escape while publicly guillotining dozens of people per day. The story is then mostly told through Maurice's point of view and ends with him regretfully guillotining the object of his desire and her family. This adds an extra spin by portraying the French Revolution through the perspective of the guy operating the guillotine while adhering to the central 'love story' people like.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
How can we make this different?

You said character based, so lets start with character. What character can provide an interesting POV on the key events of this story? Let's create one, call him Maurice. Maurice is a poor young man who worked in the Le Havre's kitchens as a potato-peeler, where he was mistreated by the cook. In being mistreated, the previously non-ideological yet opportunist Maurice was convinced to join the revolutionaries and in fact aided in the arrest of the family he once served, blaming them even though it was the cook who was shitty to him. As reward, he is appointed to be executioner. However, gripped by guilt and secretly in love with Francoise, he agrees to try to help coordinate the family's escape while publicly guillotining dozens of people per day. The story is then mostly told through Maurice's point of view and ends with him regretfully guillotining the object of his desire and her family. This adds an extra spin by portraying the French Revolution through the perspective of the guy operating the guillotine while adhering to the central 'love story' people like.

This is much more interesting and creative than the first plot.I like it!

However wouldn't this go against what Elizabeth Craig was saying in the OP article, about not disappointing your reader? I would think an obligatory scene would be them getting together -- no? If he is secretly in love with Francoise, and it is from his POV, then the reader would become invested in the love story. You risk a let down at the end. This is always the problem when you walk away from genre conventions. I'm all for it, don't get me wrong, but to respond to the OP wouldn't one need to give the reader a head's up. Perhaps the copy states it's a "tragic love story."


Or could there be a period where they get together? But she dies anyway from something else. Then at least they would have those OS together. Perhaps he helps her escape but she must live with him in his modest quarters. But she is too delicate and becomes ill and he tries to keep her alive, but fails. It’s already starting to sound like something I’ve read...lol!

This stuff is hard! :playful:
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
This is much more interesting and creative than the first plot.I like it!

However wouldn't this go against what Elizabeth Craig was saying in the OP article, about not disappointing your reader? I would think an obligatory scene would be them getting together -- no? If he is secretly in love with Francoise, and it is from his POV, then the reader would become invested in the love story. You risk a let down at the end. This is always the problem when you walk away from genre conventions. I'm all for it, don't get me wrong, but to respond to the OP wouldn't one need to give the reader a head's up. Perhaps the copy states it's a "tragic love story."


Or could there be a period where they get together? But she dies anyway from something else. Then at least they would have those OS together. Perhaps he helps her escape but she must live with him in his modest quarters. But she is too delicate and becomes ill and he tries to keep her alive, but fails. It’s already starting to sound like something I’ve read...lol!

This stuff is hard! :playful:

Nah, no heads up required. Fuck 'em :D Why do we need to give heads up? Just don't advertise it as being a upper-case-R Romance and it's fine...

This would be Romeo & Juliet except Romeo has to kill Juliet. This is what I mean about subverting tropes. The star-crossed lovers dying in each others arms is a trope. So subvert it. Absolutely have Romeo murder Juliet, or Juliet murder Romeo (#feminism). This is how we find our originality. What makes my French Revolution guillotine story a love story is that it's still about people in love. Maurice still loves Francoise.

He is, however, forced into executing her by other circumstances. These can be honorable circumstances. Perhaps he feels a sense of duty? Subvert what duty means. Even if they aren't honorable, even if they are immoral, they can at least be relatable. Have Romeo kill Juliet because he wants to be a revolutionary hero and finally be respected. Subvert what respect means. Then, how about some irony? He really doesn't give a crap about the ideology, he just wants to fit in. Subvert what ideology means. These are relatable issues, and they could easily be imaginable in a Revolution. There are so many different iterations you can use on this idea and you can apply it to numerous historical periods, right up to the point where credibility fractures.

Heck, take it as far as you want. Have a detective story on the spaceship, have a gay romance set in World War One trenches. The reason The Shape Of Water is a more romantic movie than your average boy meets girl is because it's about a weird woman and a weird mutant creature in a horrible dystopian society. The reason Brokeback Mountain is a great romance is not because of the homosexuality but because of the context in which the homosexuality happens -- cowboys on a mountain. There's no room for straightforward 'handsome boy meets handsome girl in Paris, rubs flowers on her nipples and makes her orgasm' type baloney in literary fiction anymore. Unless the handsome boy is actually a eunuch, handsome girl is actually a boy, or Paris is inside of a snow-globe. Subvert it.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Nah, no heads up required. Fuck 'em :D Why do we need to give heads up? Just don't advertise it as being a upper-case-R Romance and it's fine...

This would be Romeo & Juliet except Romeo has to kill Juliet. This is what I mean about subverting tropes. The star-crossed lovers dying in each others arms is a trope. So subvert it. Absolutely have Romeo murder Juliet, or Juliet murder Romeo (#feminism). This is how we find our originality. What makes my French Revolution guillotine story a love story is that it's still about people in love. Maurice still loves Francoise.

He is, however, forced into executing her by other circumstances. These can be honorable circumstances. Perhaps he feels a sense of duty? Subvert what duty means. Even if they aren't honorable, even if they are immoral, they can at least be relatable. Have Romeo kill Juliet because he wants to be a revolutionary hero and finally be respected. Subvert what respect means. Then, how about some irony? He really doesn't give a crap about the ideology, he just wants to fit in. Subvert what ideology means. These are relatable issues, and they could easily be imaginable in a Revolution. There are so many different iterations you can use on this idea and you can apply it to numerous historical periods, right up to the point where credibility fractures.

Heck, take it as far as you want. Have a detective story on the spaceship, have a gay romance set in World War One trenches. The reason The Shape Of Water is a more romantic movie than your average boy meets girl is because it's about a weird woman and a weird mutant creature in a horrible dystopian society. The reason Brokeback Mountain is a great romance is not because of the homosexuality but because of the context in which the homosexuality happens -- cowboys on a mountain. There's no room for straightforward 'handsome boy meets handsome girl in Paris, rubs flowers on her nipples and makes her orgasm' type baloney in literary fiction anymore. Unless the handsome boy is actually a eunuch, handsome girl is actually a boy, or Paris is inside of a snow-globe. Subvert it.

I am totally on board with this approach! Other notables in this category are Harold and Maude, and there was a Canadian-British romantic adventure film, released in 1966, called The Trap. Do you remember it? A very unusual love story about a trapper who buys a mute woman and takes her to the wilderness to be his wife. He is really mean at first and she is terrified, but things change. I won't tell the whole story, because if you haven't seen it I highly recommend it.

But we are still talking about a very big convention in basic fiction which is we must introduce extreme adversity. Most people don’t experience that much extreme adversity in a lifetime. But we all experience adversity. Do you think there is a place for stories of mild adversity. Like everyday stuff. Making bad decisions that cost us money...not being as good of a parent as we wish...finding out we have slightly different values than our spouse...finding work too demanding...being jealous of a friend. A world that is not so black and white...but a little grey.

Can the mundane be interesting and still not cater to the OS&C?
 
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