Plotting around the Genre Bend

A friend and I were batting quips around discussing writing the other day and at one point, we both agreed that plot can be . . .  tricky.

I ended up misquoting someone* who once said something like: Plot is the journey to a goal—though the characters may not know this or may mistake which goal they each need to reach.

In my opinion, it’s far easier to figure out goals in genre fiction than in literary or general fiction, because they’re part of the definition:

carved bookMystery: solve the puzzle.

Romance: permanently cement the relationship between the MCs.

Erotica: same thing, but with stickier cement

Horror: live through the experience and/or reset it for the next group of idiots/hapless victims

Science Fiction:  save the world/species/universe/cheerleader/big picture while either scrupulously following or deliberately breaking the laws of the hard science of your choice.

Fantasy: complete the quest that will save the kingdom/village/species/nubile royal/known world/your own sorry ass and earn you your hero card and sometimes a bonus coupon for one free nubile royal/person next door/frustratingly smug companion/magical creature of your choice.

This list isn’t complete, of course, but the concept works with sub-genres or even when the genres merge, as they tend to do, to the confusion of library budget lines and catalogers everywhere.

In romantic suspense, the goal of the MCs would be to cement the relationship  while solving a spooky puzzle.**

In paranormal romance, that fantasy bonus coupon becomes crucial.***

In erotic fantasy, you save the the kingdom/village/species/whatever by gluing all the frustratingly smug elves to trees and . . .King of the Eyebrows


Never mind.

Thoughts? Opinions? Additions?


*I think it might have been Alexandra Sokoloff, who knows from plot arc construction like whoa—but if anyone knows for certain, please lay the facts upon me, because the doubt is starting to itch.

**There doesn’t seem to be many romantic thrillers out there, possibly because thriller MCs are busy people who can barely fit a whole night stand into their tight schedules of stopping international catastrophes that generally involve mutated viruses, treasonous politicians, or greedy corporations—though not greedy mutated politicians harboring treasonous corporeal viruses, because that’s horror—and keep losing your number during those extended transportation chases.  Or so they claim.

***But if it sparkles, it’s all sorts of horror.