Genre doesn’t matter.

So with my topic set, now I look to genre. Why wouldn’t I start with genre though? Isn’t it kind of important?

Well, let me ask you: what comes to mind when I say “romance book”? A story about how person X met person Y and they faced challenge Z on the path to finding true love?

That’s what I imagine, and now everything I think of is going to be within that stereotype… or looking for a way to subvert it.

Either way, I’m letting the genre define the story. I’m no longer considering that person X might be a season, or a planet, or a dog. What if Violet was sick of being at the bottom of the rainbow, and started a rainbow revolution? That sounds like a fun little story that I would have never imagined.

Also … I think that the genre really has nothing to do with the theme. Why can’t any theme can play nice with any genre? I chose generational change – so let’s see if I’ve restricted myself somehow.

SciFi: Star wars. Luke overthrows Vader and the Empire and then .. wanders off, I guess. There’s a rant for another day…
Romance: Romeo and Juliet. The young lovers are feeling the pressure of old family grudges. (I don’t really read this genre, so I’m sure there are better examples out there.)
Fantasy: Well, most fantasy has this theme. Every man vs dragon. Every peasant vs evil wizard. The great thing about that veil of fantasy is how it blurs the message. Where I see generational change you might see the rise of feminism, or why the US should never give up its second amendment rights. The veil is a glorious tool. I think it deserves to be capitalized from here on out.
Historical: Lots to work with here, too. History is an episode on repeat showing how the new crew overthrew the previous regime.

So my theme isn’t new; not by any stretch of the imagination. Nor have I restricted anything by setting it down first. If anything, stretching my theme across the genres gives me a chance to imagine it in one that I never would have considered before. Firefly was a scifi western with a huge following, while Wild Wild West was … not. The genre isn’t what made one more beloved than the other.

Do the Hokey Pokey.

So let’s do that again, but this time we’re going to imagine stories we could tell.

Fantasy: A magical critter is born, destined to rule the world. Our hero reaches the evil tyrant at the end, only to find out that it’s him from a previous cycle. He has been fighting against another version of himself the entire time.

Romance: In her culture, who she will marry is predetermined by her parents. She rebels against this, only to find that she actually likes this dude… but she can’t admit that, because pride or something. When she exposes his shameful secret then her parents cancel the marriage. Phew, she’s free of him at last. But, darn it all, now that he’s gone she realizes it might have been a big mistake. (Eh? 1/10 for effort. They’re not all going to click.)

Science fiction: Race A lives forever by paying Race B for their life force. As a result, the Bs live luxurious but short lives, so they don’t remember the World That Was. Our hero bakes up the Radical New Ideas that will free his people. Bonus: the reader is going to naturally compare your made up world to the real one, probably in the ways you expect, and you don’t even have to ask. They won’t be able to help it. Now you have a whole bunch of things you can subvert that you didn’t have to explicitly point out. That sounds pretty fun(, but might age poorly as those default reactions change over time).

Okay, so that’s not an awful first pass. Now we can put an idea in, and take one out. Shake it all about. Hokey that pokey. Eventually our brains will make that happy clicking feeling that says we’re on the right track. I’m not sure if that’s the sound of engagement, or brain cells dying. Either way, it’s a good place to start.

So, here we go …

What do you think?