a walk in the genre woods

Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Recently completed the Genre Structure workshop offered by Dean Wesley Smith. This workshop is one of the Classic six-week courses, a downloadable video series priced at half the cost of Smith’s current ongoing workshops. I learned there was much more to genre structure than I thought I knew.

It isn’t just the obvious story pattern. Every genre has its tropes and patterns and reader expectations. The writer’s job is to meet those expectations if the writer wants to write genre fiction successfully. And yes literary fiction is a genre.

The workshop gave me a deeper understanding of genre, of the importance of story structure, even of composition as well as an understanding of how very flexible genre structure can be. Within the framework of any genre’s format is plenty of room for great creativity and flexibility.

I enjoyed the video lectures and my creativity was put to the test by the assignments. Once you purchase and download the series, it’s yours for life and you can return to it as many times as you like. I’ll listen to it again because Dean Wesley Smith conveys a cornucopia of information about genre structure along with interesting bits of genre history, and I’m sure in all my note-taking I probably missed some details, like when you watch a movie for the first time, you don’t see everything that’s on the screen.

As a writer, I’ll never stop learning because the minute you close your mind to the experience of creative learning, you’ve stared the gorgon in the face. You know what happens then.

sunlight through rain

Lady of Shalott

1,027 words on The Bone Box, two hours work. I’m satisfied with the morning session which ran well into lunch time. The writing went slowly because my skills challenge is to write to show, not tell. I think I tell too much. Have to master the art of showing because that’s how emotion is infused in fiction.

The idea is not to make a scene longer necessarily, but to enhance the reader’s experience, to make details vivid, and add depth and dimension to the scene. The scene I wrote this morning has some good showing in it, but it could be better.


undersea mountains are scary


Here we are at the last weekend in September, temperature predicted to be 90 degrees Fahrenheit today. Summer has Fall in a hammerlock. Pretty much where The Bone Box has me. But Fall’s not going to tap-out and neither am I.

The word tracker says 30% done, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. I’ve got a ways to go, not so much in words as in story substance. I think I’ve got a good story, and I’d hoped not to get into trouble with it. Meetings in dark alleys never go well.

Lady of Shalott

Since it’s Saturday, The Bone Box can hang until Monday. The hours are sliding by. I got lost this morning in the crevasses of admin stuff–answering e-mail and updating my calendar so I know what’s what in October, and then catching up on my blog-reading. Now I’m doing this post while today’s to-do, The Serene Widow, taps her foot. I’ll get there shortly.


There’s a scene in The Bone Box titled “Bleeding Eyes.” I wrote two versions of it in Scrivener, deleted the original–oops–and decided I wanted it back so had to recreate it. I forgot about the nifty Snapshot tool in Scrivener that lets you take a snapshot of a scene, saves it in the Inspector, and if you change your mind, you can rollback to the original scene. Suffice to say, since I’m a ruthless reviser with a mind like a weathervane, that I’ve snapped all the original scenes just in case I wake up with my thoughts blowing in a different direction–again.


Time I got to The Serene Widow, just brainstorming and story planning notes right now.

Isabella.Pot of Basil

rowing, rowing


A Fall of Diamonds snagged my attention for a couple days, but today I wrote 709 words on The Bone Box for a total of 1,291 words this week. It’s been slow-going since I hit the wall last Wednesday. Took a few days to do research and more story development.

Outside it’s a sunny 86 degrees F. Not sure if I’ll take a walk this afternoon. Yesterday I nearly melted.

still waters, hard wall

Lamia.Herbert James Draper 1910

Was sick Wednesday and even worse I hit the wall so hard a couple bricks fell out. Got a few words done, but so few, I’m not even going to nudge the tracker. But this is the discovery draft, and I’ve discovered I need more story so I’m taking a few days to develop The Bone Box more.

I’m a pantser. I’ve tried outlining, but it never quite works for me, still I think outlining is useful. I’ll write a beat sheet to guide me, but mostly I write a lot of story notes, lots and lots, and then I look for what’s between the lines, what other scenes suggest themselves. From my notes I make a list of scenes and possible scenes.

For the moment The Bone Box rests in still waters. Shoot!

yesterday was better, under the bus today


Lachrymae(Mary Lloyd) Frederic Lord LeightonI’m lost this morning, have not written word one. I thought I’d run an errand, but I didn’t have to move Junior and I let myself get distracted reviewing my monthly budget. Now it’s after ten and I’m not sure what I’m doing. Loki is being irritatingly bad this morning, much like her namesake. Tonight is Fictionaires so I guess I’ve got that on my mind.

In the technical parlance of meteorologists, it’s cooler today, a high of 77 degrees F is predicted. Outside it’s sunny and a breeze stirs the lindens so looks like a pretty nice day. Also looks like it’s going to be a zero day :( but maybe not. I just have to write the first sentence and the ball may roll.

Yesterday went well, wrote 1072 words, the waterfall scene stands at 1828 now. The manuscript is at 7981 words so can’t complain about yesterday. Also did more brainstorming on A Fall of Diamonds last night.