Posts Tagged ‘genre’

☞ Genres are not immune to being influenced by the external environment. This has always been one of my fundamental beliefs in the study of narrative. But climate change? Could it create a new literary genre?

❝When Superstorm Sandy hit New York City last fall, the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, like most everything else, totally shut down. It was a week before power returned to FSG, according to Brian Gittis, a senior publicist. When he got back to his office, he began sorting through galleys — advance copies of books. And one of them caught him off guard.

Its cover had an illustration of the Manhattan skyline half-submerged in water.

“It was definitely sort of a Twilight Zone moment,” Gittis recalls.

The book was Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich. …❞

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☞ At the onset, I must say that what Emmanuel Iduma says below deserves to be heard. However, with regard to his belief in the need to transcend genre in order to engage in politically committed writing as an African writer — or as any writer from the third world for that matter — I am not sure if I agree with him completely. I have to say at the same time that I am hugely sympathetic to his cause, but perhaps not precisely in the terms formulated by him. My difficulty lies with the belief that genre could be avoided, or that, to use his word, it could be transcended. I don’t think genre can be sidestepped. It exists in all texts. Even Finnegans Wake belongs to an overall genre, even if it is the only member of its generic category. It should also be said that a complex of (other) genres infuses Joyce’s work: it might be “genre-bending,” but genre or a whole army of genres informs the work. Writing something elemental, essential or basic does not mean that genre can be left aside. If there is an obsession with literary classification, and with placing works according to their genres for commercial purposes, it does not mean that genre itself is at fault: it might be an overly simplistic or mechanical understanding of genre for taxonomic purposes that is amiss here. What is perhaps needed is a more complex and less rigidly formulaic appreciation of genre, and the kind of simplistic pigeonholing of creative texts for commercial purposes is something that we should all move away from. (See also the next entry: quotation from “On Formulas and Fiction” [listed below]).

“‘An elemental narrative’ is the description we should use for a story that transcends genre. Our understanding of  ‘elemental’ relates to what is ‘essential’ or ‘a basic part.’ It means that our elemental narratives always bear the premise that we are writing a ‘basic’ story that touches at the heart of who we are and what we have become. The goal of the writer will be to write a story that is as elemental as a shared humanity, those recognizable qualities that makes us human, and sometimes inhuman.

The word ‘novel’ will serve merely for classification because in my thinking a narrative traverses the edges of fiction, reality, and everything in-between. The writer will not seek to write a story that fits into such categories as literary fiction, because in our time no one has successfully defined what those words mean. Perhaps that term, and classification, resulted from the arrogance of writers of an earlier generation who wanted to distinguish the stories they wrote, or told, from those of writers whose work did not fit into their artistic vision.

Even more, this goal should be taken seriously by an African writer. In truth, classifications – and the conscious practice of adhering to them – have not helped us much. Our publishing industry suffers in part, I believe, from an attempt to elevate one genre over the other. Genres may suffice for bookstores, and libraries, but they should not suffice for writers when they struggle in solitude. Assuming the African writer cares little about attempting to write ‘literary fiction’ but feels compelled to imagine a post-apocalypse world in Mushin, and remains faithful in telling the tale, perhaps we can have narratives that reach an otherwise neglected audience.”

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Posted: January 5, 2013 in Genre
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Link: Examples of Genre in YourDictionary

Examples of genre in YourDictionary

Examples of genre

Examples (or sub-genres) of action and adventure, comedy, fantasy, horror and science fiction given on this web page.

☞ Anders’ observations on the importance of genres: that they do not merely serve a boring taxonomic function, and that they could be interesting, even exciting. They are virtually inescapable, and good knowledge of them is needed if one wants to break them. Every story builds up a generic expectation or expectations. The genre of a narrative is not always determinate at the start. Generic possibilities could be triggered by playing with genres and what they entail during the course of a narrative.

✽ “Genres don’t have to be comfortable old pairs of socks. Genre storytelling can be thrilling and unexpected — and one major way to seize the element of surprise is to burst out of genre boundaries, like a rocket sled crashing through the walls of dreamland. Drop some nanotech into that literary story. Nuke the fairy kingdom. Or screw mash-ups — just create something that nobody can taxonomize.”

✽ “Every story makes assumptions and builds on ideas that you’re not supposed to think about or notice. This is just as true for big, genre-defining works as it is for everything else — maybe even more so. Sometimes, authors are aware they’re making certain unwarranted assumptions, sometimes they’re not. But either way, if you want to find a fresh take on a type of story that you love, try and find the thing you’re not supposed to be looking at, and stare at it.”

✽ “A murder mystery is just like any other type of story, until someone is murdered. An erotic story is just like any other, until it gets overtly sexy. You can play with expectations by teasing that something is going to happen that will cast your story in a particular genre mold — and then not having it happen, or having it happen in a very different way than people expect.”

✽ “Have a detective wandering around, even if nobody gets murdered. Have a cyborg randomly show up, even if your story isn’t about cybernetics. This might sound like a gimmick — but these characters will have a very different perspective on the events in your story than other people would, and that can add an extra dimension. And sometimes the easiest way to do a genre mash-up is to bring together characters who belong in different types of stories.”

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“The truth is, we need popular fiction in our lives as accepted parts of the literary world. In one of my first creative writing workshops, the professor urged us to avoid “genre” fiction, claiming it was lazy writing. Over the course of the semester, many stories were shared, the majority of them lackluster, and, to be frank, boring (mine were no exception). The class was inundated with dysfunctional relationships and the daily tribulations of young urbanites.

One day a student turned in a piece that showed real promise. It was a children’s story, for around the same age as Bailey School Kids or Boxcar Children. It concerned a school for supervillain children, and one student who didn’t want to grow up into the next Lex Luthor, but instead wanted to become a tailor.

The story was, in a word, delightful. It was fun, clever, well constructed; I could see it selling well as a series or being the talk of the Scholastic Book Club. The entire class loved it, and told the writer so.

The professor tore it apart. Called it “juvenile” and said that it “wasn’t really literature, which is what we’re trying to write here.”

I was shocked. Even on a purely technical level, this was one of the better written pieces we had seen so far, and yet here the professor was, decrying it, with all of the knowledge accumulated from his three or four published stories.”

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☞ The incident mentioned by Nathan Elwood above was unfortunate. There is certainly a place for popular literature in creative writing classes, and most examples of popular literature can also be described as genre fiction. The students (and Elwood) might have attended a course for writing serious literature, but it is not always easy to determine beforehand if this was what they paid for, and if the teacher had a more liberal attitude towards fiction in general.

Narrative in RPGs

Posted: December 20, 2012 in Video game
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☞ The importance of narrative in RPGs:

“It’s safe to say that the RPG has taken over every video game genre out there, but this domination shouldn’t surprise us. The RPG is founded on a handful of core principles, including the telling of a story and the growth of a character or group of characters. These principles pervade human desire — not just video games. Tracking a visual representation of progress satisfies our most fundamental needs, and the joys of following a story go back as far as storytelling itself.”

from: “RPGs Took Over Every Video Game Genre” by Ryan Clements