Friday, October 18, 2019

Genre Mashups: A mystery of the past

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!


{Rani Divine}

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Genre Mashups: A horrifying mystery

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Too Many Books to Count! I’m so glad you stopped by. All month, we’re talking about genres, and getting those creative juices flowing by mashing two genres together in a way we might not have considered before. We’re talking mashups, and I’m ending every blog with a short writing prompt, to really help you get those juices flowing—and just in time for NaNoWriMo, too!

Thus far this month, we’ve talked about everything from historical science fiction to historical horror, and this week, I have two more super fun subjects for you.

Genre Mashups: A horrifying mystery

Like I’ve said many times over the past two weeks, there’s nothing new under the sun. I’m sure many of you have read horror-mystery mashups before, and some of you might have even written in these genres before, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a new spin on it, does it?

Let’s define our genres:

Horror is, as we discussed recently, just that: it’s a genre that focuses on the theme of the horrifying, of jump scares and setting your nerves on edge, of making your teeth chatter and making you wonder as to the reality around you. It’s terrifying, and that’s what makes it a whole lot of fun. Sometimes it’s paranormal, sometimes it’s based in the actual—but it’s always bent on getting a good scare, and it usually gets it. It’s a thematic genre, which means it blends extremely well with others.

Mystery, on the other hand… well, that’s not hard to guess at either, is it? Mystery is a thematic genre that’s focused on the solving of a certain mystery, though that mystery varies from story to story. There’s generally a detective involved, one who’s primary goal is to solve the mystery upon which the story revolves, to whatever end that may lead.

And, in my opinion, the two very easily go hand in hand.

They’re both thematic genres, which means they’ll also blend well into whatever time period you have in mind, whatever character set you have in mind, and essentially, whatever wonderful ideas you have in that noggin of yours. They bind easily, because the horrifying elements can very simply seat themselves as the basis of the mystery, or can propel the mystery forward. Whatever you choose. The story is ready and waiting for you, even now.

So, here’s your prompt:

Write me a story about a hardened detective, one who’s seen his fair share of crime. His fair share of hardship. Only when this deed goes down, even he’ll be terrified by what’s going on. It’ll shake him to his core, get his boots trembling, and make him wonder if anything he’s ever believed in could actually be true.

It’s up to you, what time period you set the story in, what horror you have in mind, even what the mystery may actually be. But I want your mystery to be based around the past of your primary character, and I want the story to reveal him for what he really is, in a way that he didn’t think possible. I want to discover him through the horror that’s around him, and I want the pieces to unfold like a mystery.

Let that challenge you, and let your mind take it and run.

Me, I’ve got some ideas, myself.


{Rani Divine}

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Genre Mashups: Elves in space

Hi there! Welcome back to Too Many Books to Count! I’m so glad you stopped by. This month, we’re talking about genres. We’re taking genres that might not be often seen together, and putting them together to get our creative juices flowing—and, we’re doing all this just in time for November, NaNoWriMo! I’m hoping I’ll be able to inspire some of you to try something new, and maybe make a really cool story along the way.

If you’ve been trying out my writing prompts, I’d love to see what you came up with! I’ve been having a grand time coming up with prompts for mashing all these genres together, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what I get out of this, by the end of the month. I always learn something too, you know.

Today, let’s talk about my two genres of choice! These are my favorite genres, my wheelhouse genres, the genres I camp out in as my happy place. Only, I never really write them together, nor is it a very common mashup, as far as I’ve seen.

Genre Mashups: Elves in space

Yeah, that’s right. We’re talking science fiction and high fantasy. And sure, it’s been done before. I’m fairly certain that every single genre mashup has already been done, that you can find examples of it all over online—but that doesn’t mean you’ve ever done it, nor does it give you the excuse not to do it. Because the story in you is a story that can’t come out of anyone else. The exact same story told by two different people is always a different story, in the end.

So let’s define our genres:

Science fiction, as we discussed last week, is a genre of the future. It’s not always set in the future, but it tends toward futuristic themes like space travel, time travel, and scientific advances not currently known to mankind. It is really more of a category than a full-on genre, because you can blend many different theme-genres into science fiction, to make a really cool story.

Fantasy, on the other hand, tends toward being set in the past. It isn’t always, but tends to focus on medieval times. High fantasy, in particular, deals with the lives of elves, dwarves, gnomes, dragons, and every other fantastical creature you’ve ever heard of in your life. It also tends toward containing the use of magic, in one shape or another. Like science fiction, fantasy is also more of a category, which also makes it easy to blend with theme-genres.

That means that today, we have two categories we’re mashing together. We haven’t done that yet, this series.

Like I said, fantasy tends toward being set in the past, but it doesn’t have to be set in the past. So I really want you to think outside the box on this one. I want you to imagine what fantastical species would’ve gotten to which scientific advancement first, to show a difference between peoples. I’d like to see at least one species with the ability to space travel.

So, write me a story. Write me a story about a gnome who’s just trying to move up in the world, but he’s a gnome, and he’s small, and only the big people have the best advancements. He wants his people to be the ones to make the next advancement. And he learns how to blend magic with science, to do things no one thought possible.

Write me a story that’s set in our future, but a future where every fantastical race you’ve ever heard of exists and thrives around us. A future where racial tensions aren’t within a single species but pointed outward, at other species (science fiction loves to play with politics, you know). A future where the apocalypse is looming, and everyone’s trying to prevent it—but every species wants their species to be the one to end it, so they’ll have the upper hand in the new world.

My mind is going a mile a minute, I have so many ideas… and I hope you do too!

Happy writing!


{Rani Divine}