Genre III, or The Outside Story

The joys of getting ready to move.  Been a few days since the last post, I know.

But, if I were to be truthful, probably some of the delay is the topic itself.

In theory, choice of external content genre should be where fiction writing starts—a semi-no-brainer, in other words. For me, though, it brought things to a halt.  It might even, after all these years of practice, change my work.  Maybe profoundly.

Stories One & Two

In his The Story Grid, author-editor Shawn Coyne stresses that for the external content genres (Adventure Stories, Love Stories, Crime Stories, etc.), there is always a pair of “external content values” that form the yin and yang of the story’s conflicts.  For a Love Story, for example, that pair would be Love/Hate.

So how about letting our Stories One and Two be, say, mysteries—although not your usual mysteries, of course, where the bodies show up somewhere in the first chapter. And perhaps not your usual pair of values for such mysteries:  Justice/Injustice.

Yet think of the central problem of those “outer” two stories of the “Russian Doll” as something like this: “What (or maybe who) ‘did this,’ i.e., what/who caused this change in the brain after War?”

Now maybe see the conflicting values as not “Justice/Injustice,” but instead “Relief/Torment.”  Maybe?  We’ll see what happens.

That was the easy part.

Story Three

We already know that Story Three, the actual “Star Trek Story,” is going to follow along the Hero’s Journey.  Plus if the Hero’s Journey is anything, it’s an Adventure.  Plus if Star Trek was anything, it was an Action-Adventure, with the classic Action-Adventure values of Life/Death.  (Remember: even if the main characters made it, the extras did not always do so. And, hey, in the movies, it got dicey even for the leads!)

So, why not an Action-Adventure?

Sounds good. But the question is: what kind of Action-Adventure?

Before that, a few rules:

  • Rule Number One:  Every Action-Adventure has to have a Hero, a Villain, and a Victim.
  • Rule Number Two:  Every Action-Adventure needs one, and only one, Hero. Break this rule at your peril. Many try. Few succeed. Maybe none.
  • Rule Number Three:  Villain and Victim need not follow Rule Number Two. In other words, who starts out as Villain/Victim might not end up so, and so on.  Therein lie the twists and turns of plot.

Shawn divides Action-Adventures into four subtypes, each with a different villainous “focus,” if you will:  Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man, Man vs. the State, and Man vs. Time.

Notice: each differs in the villainous focus.  Therein lies my challenge:  the key to Action-Adventure is not the Hero.  It’s the Villain!

So, in Story Three who is—or maybe better, who are—the Villain(s)?

That was the question that changed everything for me.  More next time.

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