Sunday, March 8, 2015

How Genre Influences a Story

The real event:

She walks with her sister down the apartment complex sidewalk. In the green, four guys bat a volleyball around. They look; she looks. She talks quickly to her sister about their visit. Rapid talk. And while  her mouth says things like "She looks healthy, happy." Her mind says, "Hotness. Don't look. Don't look." Their shirts are rolled up to their chests. Brown skin darkened already by summer sun. One's got the Bruno Mars hair (why, guys, why?) but cute nonetheless. Eyes flicker. Talking, walking faster. Past them now. Nearing the parking lot. At the first row of cars, she stops to give her sister a hug and kiss. The four, at a distance now, stand still in a line. Goodbyes, and she and her sister head to their row of cars. She gets in, sighs with relief. Phew, hot. And the volleyball comes winging, then bouncing over, through the lot, to roll in the car space next to hers. Bruno Mars comes jogging over to retrieve it, bending, standing outside her window. She rummages through her purse till he moves on. She drives away.

How genre might determine a story's unfolding:

Fantasy: As he bends for the ball, the string around his neck slips out of his shirt. A flash of turquoise. I gasp and look away. It's a polinar. There's nothing I can do but stare ahead as he tucks it back into hiding.

Western: He twirls the ball on one finger, and swaggers over. Sun glints off his buckle. He nods without a smile and moves on, taking the empty sidewalk into shadow.

Erotica: He picks up the ball but makes no move back to his friends. Standing, shirt rolled up his chest, he flips the ball hand to hand. His dark eyes stare. I unroll my window.

Mystery: It was a ploy. Obviously. The ball had to be kicked to reach this far. But they couldn't know what was in my trunk. David said he'd put it there before sunrise.

Literary: I looked away as he bent for the ball. His shoulders were too broad to call him kid anymore, but still, who wasn't susceptible to the mockery of peers? He deserved space to collect himself. In this complex, eyes pried through slitted window shades, and mean grins slammed the doors. He walked head up.

Romance: He snatched up the ball and sheepishly smiled. What had he done to his hair? I thought, and couldn't help but smile back. I could see him moussing it up, laughing at himself in the mirror. But that memory was two years old already.

How much does genre choice influence our stories? I know some people write a specific genre regularly. It's what they read; it's what they write. I jump all over the place. And I don't think we're necessarily aware all the time what genre we're aiming for. I think we might just be inclined more toward one than another. And it could be our mood, or an unconscious need that dictates what works best. Just thinking ..


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