Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Genres in Literature

 



Welcome Back!



A while ago, I wrote a post called “Making a list and Checking it Twice”, which described the fundamental elements when working on a story. This post will go into further detail on the second point that was on that list: literary genres.


A genre is a label that characterizes artistic composition, such as literature or music, by analyzing different elements like form, style, or subject matter. In literature, these elements can be identified from various points of the story, like the action in the plot or the mood of the setting.


Different genres require different approaches to telling a story, which can either be fun or a challenge for a new writer. Beginning authors should explore a few genres in order to find the best fit for their writing skills. It is important to know and identify with which genre your project will fall under, because the audience will have preferences and expectations that, as an author, will be your responsibility to fulfill. Failure in doing so will leave the reader feeling cheated.


As an example, imagine going to the theater to see a movie advertised as a Romance story, but after seeing it you discover it was actually a Horror flick. Needless to say you would be disappointed because your expectations would not have been met.


Every form of literature (novel, drama, poem, etc.) can be written in any genre, which is found in either one of two broad categories; Fiction and Non-Fiction. Nonfiction is based on facts and in real experiences. Based on the imagination, works of fiction can be nearly anything, varying from the fantastic to the mundane. Each of these genres can also be further divided into a subset of genres, as seen below:
                                              

Action: Story focused on conflict, where a protagonist is placed in a desperate situation while facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Examples are Westerns, Martial Arts or Spy stories .


Adventure: Story which focuses on the goal, involving a protagonist who encounters various obstacles while traveling a long distance to accomplish a specific goal. A classic example would be the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Comedy: Story where the events are told in a funny or comical manner. Comedy is versatile and can easily be merged with other genres.


Crime: Story about illegal activities. Can be from the point of view of either the criminal or the law enforcer. Most common examples are Murder Mysteries, Courtroom Dramas or Detective stories.
Fiction Narrative: Story that draws inspiration from reality or actual events, which have fictitious elements added to it. Is occasionally used for historical re-enactments.
Fantasy: Story based on magic or supernatural elements, relating to out worldly characters and settings. Good examples would be Fairy Tales, Fables and Legends.
Historical: Story which focuses on a real person or event. Often used in non fictional literature like biographies.
Horror: Story told to deliberately evoke a feeling of dread and fear in both the characters and the reader, through suspense, violence or shock. Common examples are stories about ghosts or monsters. For more details on writing scary stories, see my other post by clicking here.


Mystery: A story where the protagonist is in search of the solution to a crime or the unraveling of a secret.


Paranoid: Story where the protagonists perception of reality is explored. This view can be manipulated or affected by forces outside of the protagonists control.
Philosophical: Story which addresses philosophical notions, such as the purpose of life, ethics or morals. A good example are “coming of age” stories, where the protagonist is faced with a life altering situation.

Political: Story dealing with political affairs, events, systems and theories. Political fiction can include works of Utopian and dystopian fiction, survivalist or social science fiction.
Realistic fiction: Story that may not have a plot, but rather focuses on a naturalistic representation of real life.


Romance: Story involving a character's relationships or love interest. This genre is commonly seen combined with other genres.



Satire: Story where someone's shortcomings are displayed publically in the hopes to bring about improvement. Although it is meant to be funny, the purpose is to attack something the author strongly disapproves, while using wit, sarcasm and irony.


free public domain image 14 scifi astronauts space suits zero g tumbling torus donut space station
Science fiction: Story based on the impacts of actual, imagined or potential science (be it realistic or not). Common elements are futuristic settings or alien beings. Most notable space themed storylines are those set in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes.


Speculative: Stories which theorizes about out worldly settings which are unlike the real world in various important ways. Examples of speculative fiction are post-apocalyptic fiction, or stories that explore alternate history.


                                          
Thriller: Story where harm and misfortune risk affecting the protagonist(s), involving high levels of fear and suspense. The protagonist is often pitted against an unbeatable force, be it a natural disaster or a merciless psychopath.


Urban: Story which describes the everyday life of its characters taking place in a city landscape. Also known as Street lit, this type of fiction is usually very dark, focusing on elements such as race, gangs, sex and violence.

I'm still experimenting with genres myself. I have a pretty good idea of which genres I should avoid and still looking for those I might surprised myself in. Until then, I plan on further practicing those I am comfortable with. But right now, I hope my post have cleared a few things up for you.

Until next time,

Patrick Osborne.

edited on 2015-11-10

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A question of perspective.


Welcome back!




As mentioned in my previous post about making lists, I will be addressing each point individually in order to explore them in further detail. The first item I will discuss is one that I have personally had issues dealing with in the past.



The points of view (or PoV) are the angles from which the story may be told. These different perspectives are the voice in which the narrator presents the story to the readers. Though a story can be told from any of several PoV, it is important to remain consistent in order to avoid annoying or confusing the reader. Furthermore, be sure to consider which type of narration you feel comfortable with and will best fit your project.






Following are the different Points of View:


First Person:
A story told in the first person point of view is when the narrator is involved in the action of the story. First Person Point of View stories usually feature pronouns such as I, me, mine, our, we, us, etc. This helps create an immersive experience, tailored to reflect the personality or background of the narrator.
The POV character can only share what they can perceive with their senses. Therefore if, for whatever reason, your chosen narrator is in a position where they cannot see, hear, smell or feel, then this fact should be reflected in the details of the story. As the author, we must also realize that the first person PoV narrator cannot perceive the thoughts or feelings of another character.
It is important to remember that the details of your story must be filtered through the storyteller, not the author. Avoid telling the story to the reader and concentrate on showing it.


Second Person:
           The Second Person Point of View places the reader as the narrator of the story. In a tale narrated in the second person, characters will refer to the storyteller as "you". When handled properly, this approach creates an intimate experience by including the reader in the story. Descriptions perceived in Second Person PoV are based on what the reader would see if they were present in the setting, performing the actions.
The author may decide to use this viewpoint to address the audience directly. This is to be used sparingly, because it risks pulling the audience out of the story, destroying any sense immersion.
           This narrative option is normally used for non-fiction novels, explanatory articles, self-help books and advertizing. Although it is very rare to see works of fiction be written in the second person, there have been exceptions, such as “choose your own adventure” types of books or short stories.


Third Person:
In the Third Person Point of View, the narrator is not present in the story as one of the characters. This PoV generally uses pronouns such as he, she, it, they, them, him, her, its and so on to tell the story. Third person is the most common choice as it allows the reader to know exactly how the characters feel and what goes on in their heads.
With Third Person Point of View, the author has the option of telling the story through just one character, or rotate between two or more characters.This freedom makes it a bit easier when it comes time to tell your tale, as the possibilities are virtually endless.
Additionally, third person narration can be further divided into three categories:
  1. Objective: the story is told with minimalistic information, limited to only what could be perceived by the five senses.
  2. Omniscient: the story is told from a “God-like” perspective, allowing the reader to see all details, including the thoughts and feelings of all characters in play.
  3. Limited Omniscient: the story is told from a “God-like” perspective, allowing the reader to see all details, including thoughts and feelings, but is limited to only one character within the story.


Omniscient:

Similarly to Third Person, the Omniscient Viewpoint is not present in the story. This “God-Like” PoV will also use pronouns such as he, she, it, they, them, him, her, its and allow the audience to see inside the characters heads.

           However, there are distinct differences between the two. Whereas the Third Person Omniscient can see everything happening in the current story, the true Omniscient PoV is not limited to the storyline, and has the added benefit of seeing information from the past or from the future.
           This narrative option is useful for complicated storylines which explore several tangled subplots. However, It is essential that the author remain clear when using this PoV, as it can be difficult for the reader to keep track of who or where all the information is coming from.


Limited Omniscient:
In a story told in the Limited Omniscient Point of Viewpoint, the reader is allowed to see all details in the setting. These details include thoughts and feelings, but is limited to only one character within the story.
Similarly to the Omniscient Viewpoint, the Limited Omniscient viewpoint is not restricted to the currently timeline in the story. This point of view can see information from the selected characters personal history, be it past or future.
The Limited Omniscient Viewpoint offers the “all seeing eye” perspective of the true Omniscient Viewpoint, while making it easier to follow for the reader by having less sources where the information is being generated from.


Other known styles and variations:
  • Major Character Viewpoint: can be told from the first, second or third person, but is restricted to the main character. The reader learns information at the same pace as the viewpoint character.
  • Minor Character Viewpoint: can be told from the first, second or third person, but is restricted to an observer who is not the main character.This allows the author to keep information known by the main character secret from the reader.
  • Rashomon Viewpoint: can be told from the first person by two or more characters,who are describing contradictory interpretations of the same event.
  • Sequential Multiple Viewpoint: The story is told by only one character at a time, but the PoV can switch between several characters with alternating chapters or scenes.
  • Separate Multiple Viewpoints: can be told from the first, second or third person by two or more characters who seem to have no direct relation to each other, but reach the same conclusion.


As you can see, there are many variations which can alter your story, giving it a unique focus. In order to find the perspective which would best suit your style, it is suggested you write a short story using several points of view before you settle on the one you are most comfortable with. This is important to remember, because the author will need to remain consistent throughout the story with whichever viewpoint they have selected. Consistency facilitates immersion, and allows the reader to become a part of your world.


That is all for this lesson, join me next time when I take a deeper look at genres.


Until then, Cheers!


Patrick Osborne.
(edited on 2015-10-05)



Friday, February 13, 2015

Making a List and checking it twice!


 
Welcome back!

One of the most rudimentary tools needed for writing a book is a list. Planning ahead and taking notes of what you intend to write is a good start to any project, as it will help you focus on objectives and remind you of what still needs to be done.
The first time I attempted to write a book was in high school, with the assistance of a few friends of mine. We were trying to come up with a story that would be the follow up to the Gremlins 2 movie (I was going through a phase, give me a break! :P ). Though I will admit that project was mostly an excuse for me to illustrate a bunch of weird characters, as I was more into drawing than writing back then. Needles to say, that script never made it far.

My second and more serious attempt at story writing was during my twenties, when I penned the first storyline for a super hero inspired team of my creation. Everything was written by hand and the book had roughly two-hundred-and-fifty pages of content. Four years were spent working on it, but it never amounted to anything because in the end I felt most of the characters had become “clich├ęd”. I still have the book and may revisit it someday, though it will require a major rewrite.

Despite being two totally different projects, there was one aspect these two endeavours had in common; a (serious) lack of planning. Oh sure, I had the basic idea of point “A” and that I needed to reach point “Z”, maybe I had a few ideas for an “F” and a “K” along the way, but that was the extent of my planning back then. Every other detail was invented on the fly as I trudged my way starting from point “A”. My style of writing back then was inexperienced, chaotic, improvised... and that is putting it nicely.

Luckily I have learned the importance of planning since then, mostly through the work I have done as a Lore writer for Missing Worlds Media. Having acquired a better grasp of what is needed and how to structure it when making a new list. The following items are story elements that I identify before taking on a project.

Point of View: This is angle from which the readers view the various details of the story, such as characters, events and landscapes. The point of view is angle the form which the narrator presents the story. It is important to consider which type of narration you feel comfortable with and will best fit your project.

Genre: What genre(s) will the project be based on? Will it focus on one, or draw from several? It is easy to fit into multiple genres at once, but one must remember to not go overboard. It is better to highlight one genre and to mix it with elements from a few others, than to try covering multiple genres and risk losing your audience's interest.


Theme: Without a theme, a plot is just a list of events. The point of a theme is to add a human element to the story, allowing the reader to feel attached to the events and to actually care of the outcome. A theme can be seen as the morale of the story, or the motivation that drives the characters forward.


Tone: the Tone constitutes the attitude that the author adopts to highlight said theme/subject. In the absence of vocal emphasis, a writer will usually convey Tone through their choice of words, which can come across as serious, humorous, sarcastic, passionate, indifferent, and so on.


Style: Style is the technique used by an author when presenting their thoughts, and depends on their choice of words, sounds, logic and structures. It is reflected in the writer’s words, the tone they use, the way they build a sentence or how they describe a visual reference.


Setting: The setting is the time and place in which your story unfolds. When describing a setting, the writer will include elements such as landscape, population, scenery, buildings or weather in order to give the reader a sense of immersion.


Characters: The term character is used to define the people in a novel, play, or movie. They are the pieces which interact with each other, their relationships and actions are what allow the story to move forward.


Plot: A plot is a series of events that describes the actions taken within your story, in a orderly fashion, with the purpose of solving a conflict. For there to be a story, there has to be a beginning and an end, the plot being what happens between those two points.


Conflict: This is the struggle between two opposing forces. This element affects your characters in a way that motivates them to fix the conflict and return the setting to it’s original state.


Goal: In order to explain this in terms that I was using earlier, the goal would be point “Z”. The goal is what your characters hope to achieve, where your plot ends, where your setting returns to normal once the conflict has been solved.

The items listed above are only short descriptions, which I plan on revisiting in future posts. Their importance is great enough that it is worth exploring them separately and in further detail. It is also worth mentioning that this is the current “writing blueprint” i am using, and I have the impression it will evolve as I keep learning. I will be sure to add whatever new findings I come across to the blog as I learn more.

Hope you have found this informative.

Until next time!

Patrick Osborne





(edited 2015-09-30)


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Current Projects

Welcome back!

    In today’s entry, I was hoping to go into further detail (but without revealing any spoilers!) about the projects I am currently working on.

    As I mentioned in my original post, I have been contributing my time to a volunteer based company for the past three or so years. The organization in question is named Missing Worlds Media. Our virtual studio is currently working on a superhero themed project entitled “City of Titans”, a new online game which will allow our players to go on fantastic adventures with characters of their own creation. Thanks to our volunteers tireless efforts and to a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, we are hoping to have the game ready for Beta Testing by mid-2016.

    I had originally applied to Missing Worlds Media as a conceptual artist, but eventually transferred over to the Composition Department, where I am currently offering my talents as a writer. There, my duties have ranged from creating background stories for characters and landscapes, helping fellow writers with workloads and other admin-like duties.

    The various assignments I have done while working for MWM have taught me a lot about the writing process. On a few occasions, I was asked to use that knowledge to come up with writing exercises for other staff members. Those lessons were actually what sparked my interest for starting a blog on creative writing.


The following are only a few things I have learned while working at MWM:
  1. The importance of being organized. This was especially relevant to our project since we were dealing with material originating from multiple departments. I now have a healthy appreciation for tools such as templates, timelines and spreadsheets, all tools I use in my day-to-day work, but never really applied to my writing before.
  2. The importance of being clear. Miscommunication can happen regularly if no precautions are taken. This has taught me to be mindful of others, not to generalize and to use clear, precise terms when communicating my ideas.
  3. Teamwork. Working together is a necessity for a project this size, and I am glad to be a part of the team that I am on. Though I have worked on teams before, this was the first time I had applied teamwork to my writing, which was a unique experience.
  4. Seeing the development process. I have played my fair share of video games in the past. Working for Missing Worlds Media has given me the unique opportunity of seeing what goes on behind the curtain.

    I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work for Missing Worlds Media and for the time spent learning from the other writers. It has proven to me that patience and perseverance really does pay off, and that dream jobs are possible. Next time my work is displayed on their website, I will be sure to share it here as well. Furthermore, you may expect to see some guest writers from MWM in the future!

    In regards to my other projects, they are currently all in the early stages and not really worth mentioning at this point. As expressed in my earlier posts, I hope to eventually publish a book (or God forbid, a series of books), but I still have much to learn before I can take on such an endeavour.

Forever hopeful and grateful, until next time.

Cheers,



Patrick Osborne



Link to public site: http://cityoftitans.com/

These links are shared on the front page of my blog for easy access, for those interested in following the projects progress.
(edited on 2016-01-07)