Archive for November, 2011


Genre? Where does your baby belong?

November 29, 2011

A book’s genre can be complicated. Often, people assume books are either written simply as novels or as non-fiction text. But they would be wrong. Books are categorized into lots of genres.

Next time you visit a library or a bookstore, notice the way they shelve non-fiction. There are usually sections on travel, religion, and history, just to name a few. Sometimes your book may have cross-over appeal. My non-fiction book: Soul Sunday: A Family’s Guide to Exploring Faith and Teaching Tolerance contains multicultural religious content, but is written for parents. Some bookstores shelve it in religion, but most toss it in parenting.

Fiction is a bit more complicated. Here are a few genres to get you started:


  • Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Science fiction
  • Realistic or contemporary fiction
  • Mystery
  • Crime
  • Historical fiction
  • Supernatural
  • Dystopian
  • Myth and fairytale
  • Poetry
  • Magical realism


It can be helpful to join an organization that specifically caters to one genre. Whodunit writers, for example, can meet for conferences and learn tools of the trade to improve their mystery. Identifying your genre and reading as much as you can in the same subject area will also help your own writing.





Got Plot?

November 24, 2011

My last blog concentrated on voice. I love voice. Developing snarky or surreal characters fuels my creativity. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of plot. Of course you can’t write a book without plot, so I’ve had to learn.

Best summarized, plot must follow five steps.

Step One:  Set-ups and Firsts

            What’s the problem?

Who? Introduce main characters

When? Time period

Where? Setting

Why do we care to read on?


Step Two:  Trigger Hook

            –A major incident, beyond control, high excitement

(ex. Think of the tornado in Wizard of Oz)

            –Hit it by chapter 2-4

Step Three:  Quest

            –a character must search for something or solve a problem

-protagonist must overcome a series of obstacles (and maybe fail a few)

Step Four:  Climax

-think: battle, injury, betrayal, fall, storm etc.

-protagonist is met by their final and most challenging obstacle

-add a twist and a surprise if you can


Step Five:  Resolution

-How has the character changed, evolved?

-How did the problem get solved?

-Remember to resolve all subplots

In the end, plot is really step number one, but stretched throughout the book. The tricky part is presenting the plot, without giving away the result, in chapter one. Outlines help and as always, so does rewriting. Write away!