Hi everyone, and welcome back to Too Many Books to Count! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by. All month long, we’re talking about genre. We’re preparing for NaNoWriMo by getting those creative juices flowing, by setting ourselves up with lots of ideas, by mashing genres together and creating something new and exciting, something we might never have read anything like, before. And that’s what makes this month so much fun!
So far, we’ve talked about things like historical science fiction and fantastical mysteries, and we have so much more to go! And did I mention that I’m also coming up with some fun writing prompts along the way, to help us get some ideas before we dive into a full month of novel writing?
Let’s get started!
Genre Mashups: A mystery of the past
Yeah, you read it. It’s time. Let’s talk about historical mysteries. And you’re right, there are many authors who put these two genres together all the time. There are many ways to put them together, many shapes in which their stories can take place—but remember, like we’ve said all month long, there’s really nothing new under the sun. There are only stories that are new to us, as writers, and stories we ourselves haven’t written yet.
Let’s define, shall we?
Mysteries are just that: they’re stories that are focused on a mystery, that usually focus on a protagonist of a detective, or someone who must unwittingly solve the mystery put before them. It’s a story that can take on many shapes, but that is always almost entirely focused on that mystery, the thing which must be solved. It’s very thematic, in form, and therefore mashes up very nicely with other genres.
Historical fiction, on the other hand, has two main shapes it can take. Either it’s an accurate take on a historical tale, a retelling or semi-fictionalized telling of a tale that takes place within a major (or sometimes minor) historical setting, or sometimes it's just a story that takes place in the past. Sometimes it’s real, it’s a story we know, a story from our past (or the past of our family members), and sometimes it’s something we’ve made up, but that’s set within a very particular time period. It doesn’t matter, either way. They both fall into this category. And it’s just that, a category, which means thematic genres fit very nicely within it.
So, in the mashing up of these two genres, I see two main options. Either we write about an actual mystery from the past, perhaps an unsolved one, or we make up a mystery and set it within our favorite time period.
Which do you prefer?
Me? I have a lovely prompt for you, in which you’ll see what I prefer…
Write me a story set in the nineteen fifties. Wherever you will. I’ll leave that part up to you. But make up your own mystery, a mystery that's interesting to you. Make it a mystery based around a man and a woman, who want to be wed, but who can’t. Find out why. Find out what’s keeping them apart. And do it all through the point of view of a third party.
Make of that what you will, my friends. And I hope you’ll share some of your ideas with me, along the way!