Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 25: Genres and Dominoes

In addition to your typical assignment (which is writing like heck), today we'll also be checking in on what we've accomplished so far.  First of all, let's take a look at genre.  When you began this project you likely had some sort of idea of what genre the finished product would fit into:  memoir, young adult, horror, etc.  Now that you're nearing the end of Act II, Part 2, it's a good time to take a look back at the genre descriptions and see if you still feel your novel falls into the category you had originally planned.  

Using Writer's Digest I found two fantastic articles that list out the most common genres and give a brief explanation of each.  Take a minute to review the genre you believe your novel fits into:

Do you still think your novel fits in that category?  Do you think your readers will see how it fits in that category?  Using the Genre Elements Tracker (scroll down to page 276) find at least one scene or scenario in Act I that points to a particular genre.  Repeat the step for Acts II and III.

And now for the Dominoes.  I've heard a lot of suggestions about how to plot out a novel.  One of the wildest suggestions was to write down every scene idea you have on a 3x5 notecard, then take the pile of scenes and chuck them up in the air, letting them fall wherever.  (I suppose shuffling the cards would have the same effect and be less messy).  With the scenes in no particular order try reading through the new story that has been created by the shuffling of cards.  

That idea has always seemed ridiculous to me.  If you're writing a story then each scene should inevitably lead to the other - no shuffling allowed - because scenes are a string of causes and effects.  It seems Victoria Lynn Schmidt and I are on the same line of thinking.  She created the Domino Scene Test (scroll down to page 272), explaining that,
     "Each scene should have a purpose in the story, a reason for being: to advance plot, reveal character, divulge information, something.  If not, it doesn't need to be there, at least in its current form; either get rid of it or give it a purpose.
     "An easy way to see if your scene has a purpose is to ask yourself, 'What would happen if I removed this scene?'  If a scene or two after it would fall apart, or not make sense, then you need that scene.  If you take it out and it has zero effect on your story... well, then, it likely shouldn't have been there in the first place" (Book In a Month, page 150).
And now you can see why it's called the Domino Scene Test, because
"Your book should be ordered as meticulously as [a] stretch of dominoes, all perfectly positioned to reveal, once they fall, an intricate, beautiful pattern.  But if even one of them is out of place, you run the risk of breaking the momentum, and that beautiful big picture you have in mind might never come to be" (BIAM, pages 149-150).
MY DAY 25:  I don't know if I've ever been so disappointed.  Okay, yes I have, but I still felt pretty bad after reading an article from my DREAM AGENT about how she's received a TON of submissions about FAIRYTALE RETELLINGS.  Considering my book is a Snow White retelling....  Yeah, you get the picture.  Being as bummed as I was made having any enthusiasm for the writing rather difficult, so I didn't get much done.  Truthfully I considered scrapping the project entirely, but I'd put too much heart, thought, and time into it to give up now.

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