Genre Thoughts

This is an exercise in understanding how Genre Fiction is put together.

Terms used in fiction:

  • Style – an expression of thought, using language that is characteristic of an individual, period, school, or nation
  • Genre – a dynamic classification system to help the readers make sense of unpredictable art
  • Content – the material dealt with in a piece of writing as distinct from its form or style
  • Pace – a tool that controls the speed and rhythm at which a story is told and the readers are pulled through the events
  • Setting – the place where the writing is set, as one of the three main elements of fiction (plotting/character/setting)
  • Theme – the underlying idea behind an article or story that unifies its words into a coherent whole
  • Prose – a form of language that exhibits a grammatical structure and a natural flow of speech
  • Literary Devices -structures (e.g. allusion, euphemism, foreshadowing) used to convey messages in a simple manner.

Examples of Genre Writing (Western / Apocalyptic):

A Woman Comes to Hazy (Stephanie L. Rose)

The day she came to live in our little town the sun was shining bright. No one had seen anything like her before. The darkest brown hair you ever did see, and when she stepped off the train and into the sunlight, why, her hair fairly sparkled red. Everyone on the street stopped and stared, even the womenfolk, and folks inside crowded to the windows to see why it’d got quiet all of a sudden.

Well, I’m no greenhorn. I’ve been a marshal long enough to know that you can’t have a fetching woman in a town like Hazy without trouble a-comin’ with her. And that there woman was mighty fetching.

(continues at

Death and Despair go Hand in Hand with Hope and Freedom (Miriam Mathew)

A red sky. Disintegrating buildings. Dead, crumbling leaves fluttering in the wind. Broken glass strewn haphazardly on the pavements. And not a single soul in sight.

Movement appeared from the side of an alley and a boy stepped out from the darkness. The boy wandered the streets, feeling empty. Lonely. There was a cavity in his chest and the boy couldn’t figure out what was missing.

He tried to speed back to his last memories, right after the nuclear blasts had ended and when everybody had started turning on each other.

(continues at

Comments on the above:

The first piece is in the Western genre and is written in the style and language of people living in the interior of North America at the time of the Wild West (1865-95). The genre matches the style perfectly. Content wise – a pretty woman comes to town and riles up the menfolk. The theme is therefore men vs women (and men vs men as it turns out). The dialogue and thought patterns are much as you would expect for this genre and style and after a slow, thoughtful start, the pace quickens as people become more affected by the new arrival. The prose is smooth and easy to follow with a simplistic yet effective grammatical structure. The piece is full of clichés and rests on a very hackneyed scenario (stranger comes to town). It works well because it is much as you would expect it to be, so this would be ideal for someone who likes this kind of material. This is obviously a weakness if the reader is not a fan.

The second piece is dystopian/apocalyptic fiction written in a very sparse style which tries to describe conditions after a nuclear war. The content is minimal – a simple description of destruction with a single inhabitant wandering through the setting (a dead town) – lost and lonely. There is no dialogue, the pace is slow and measured (by the confused thoughts of the boy). The themes are expressed in the title: death, despair, hope and freedom. The prose is amateurish and ineffective in describing wholesale destruction logically. The scenario and style are clichéd and the fact that this one person is alive at all is implausible. The ending is actually quite good in essence, but not very well written. The only strength of the piece is that there is a defined ending that matches the themes, but the main weakness is the jumbled prose.


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