Setting the Scene

Ah, plots.And genres. Next to character creating, this is my favorite writing aspect: actual storyline creating. The best part is, as long as it’s GOOD, you can write about literally ANYTHING– be it romance, mysteries, fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, history, sci-fi, horror, thriller, suspense, you name it.

Personally, when I daydream and write up my stories, they tend to lean rather heavily into the genres of fiction, fantasy, adventure, a smidge of sci-fi, MAYBE a touch or two of romance. I do NOT like horror, and super gushy romance. I generally like novels that often have a little bit of everything, like a good buffet.

Reading a romance novel, for me personally, is like going to a buffet where there is literally nothing but desserts. Eat too much, and you get sick pretty quick. I have a large aversion to sickeningly sweet stuff, though SOME sweet is fine. I like novels where, if there IS romance, there’s little bits here and there that contribute to, and don’t obstruct the main plot– but are NOT the main plot itself. Enough for you to squeal like a newborn pig, “I ship it!” but not enough that it makes you sick. Some examples of this technique, of good genre blending, can be found in some very popular series– Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Lunar Chronicles, sometimes Divergent, and sometimes The Grisha Trilogy are all series that are fairly good examples of this. (Mind, the reason I say “sometimes” with the last two is that sometimes they do focus a bit TOO much on the romantic drama at times… Lookin’ at you, Four-Tris… and not to mention that, in The Grisha Trilogy, there is not a love triangle but a love RECTANGLE… three guys want one gal (and the most immature guy gets her….). Talk about romantic pressure…)


I also generally don’t like horror in plots. Books that Mr. Ted Dekker writes are fine because I consider him to be more of the “Action-Suspense- Thriller version of C.S. Lewis,” but he does have a few very graphic, and even a bit disturbing, scenes in there; for his stories’ sakes, he tends to pull it off rather well. However. At times like those, I either shut my eyes, or sometimes skim the page a bit til I get to a non-graphic bit, then relax a little. The good news about horror bits, is, unlike a horror FILM, you can skim/skip them, and still have a general idea of what’s going on, if the overall story’s a different genre. However, reading an entire NOVEL of horror is like going to a horror film, only worse in some ways. If you want to know the plot, you have to read it all, or risk loosing vital information and being left in the dark. You can’t risk skimming or skipping, and, unlike the movie where the music or visible scene is set so you anticipate what may happen next, you can’t shut your eyes. You can’t block up your ears when you read about the gag-muffled screams of the innocent children the mass murderer just burned alive. And it churns my stomach. In short, if I wanted to entertain myself with something THAT horrific, I’d watch “Criminal Minds” as opposed to “Bones”. It’s just not for everyone, and honestly, I think we have enough violence and hate in the world without contributing and possibly giving real-life killers/criminals any more ideas (fun fact: Ariel Castro, convicted rapist and kidnapper, confessed to getting some of his particular… ideas… from seeing certain things on TV. That’s all I’m saying.).

Anyways, rants aside, pick a genre that is not only best-suited for you, but to your story. I love writing fictional fantasy and adventure, but I happen to know several people who struggle with fiction, and prefer either writing academic papers (MY almost least favorite kind of writing, just under horror, then romance– in that order.) and nonfiction. Sometimes, when forced to write fiction, these authors actually come up with some pretty brilliant ideas; since they have either little experience in this realm, or don’t like fiction writing, they tend to gravitate towards their home turf– they look up factual things, real things, historical things, and scientific theories to incorporate into their story, so there’s at least some sense of reality to keep their feet on the ground. Which is perfectly fine, if that works for them (or you). It actually broadens your horizons a good bit, and forces you to look into stuff you might not have looked into otherwise. This is actually my take on things when I take classes (Gen. Eds.) not directly related to my Major; for instance, during this semester I am taking SCS 110, or the Natural Sciences, which in short is a little bit of everything– physics, chemistry, biology, etc. Normally, I would think that such a class is a time-waster since science-y stuff really, really isn’t me, but then I thought about it in terms of my “Junk Collector” and “The Deceiver” stories– if I’m going to write about characters who invent  really cool and handy things from scratch and use them to battle evil people, then logically, I’m going to have to know how things move, how electricity and heat  work, and so on. Hence where the study of physics and chemistry comes in handy, even if I personally don’t care for it. I work it to my advantage, and sometimes even take notes.

So next time (if you’re a student like me), when you’re in class thinking it’s a waste of time, I challenge you to think differently, and see what stories possibilities and opening scenes you could do with what you’re studying.


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