What is the definition of Genre?
Genre is a label that tells audience members what to expect from our stories.
It is a clear framework to catalog all stories and helps writers give audience members what they are hoping for—and more. The genres of writing choices are the most important ones we need to make.
When people use the term genre, they often refer to different story elements at different times. They might mean the content of the story, the medium through which the story is presented, or even its sales category.
Without clear definitions, these labels don’t help us deliver what readers want when they choose to read, watch, or listen to a particular story.
In the Story Grid Universe, we break genre into five clear categories to help us identify, meet, and innovate story requirements. Understanding genre helps us delight audiences by meeting their expectations in unexpected ways.
Genre Categories: Introducing the Story Grid Genre 5-Leaf Clover
The Story Grid Genre 5-Leaf Clover is the tool we use to define the genres of writing in our stories. Each of the five leaves helps us determine a different element of a story’s experience. It helps to think of the five categories visually, so we present them as a five-leaf clover.
The goal of the Genre Five-Leaf Clover is to help us think about how each element or leaf comes together to form the global story. We can check our stories to make sure we are using the best combination possible to deliver a satisfying story experience.
By defining the specific genres and their conventions, we can start to look for each element within masterworks and study to understand ways of meeting these expectations within our own stories.
1. What is the Time Genre?
The TIME GENRE indicates how the reader experiences the time it takes to go from the beginning to the end of our stories. It answers how long the story will take to consume.
There are three categories of the Time Genre our stories can fall into: Short, Medium, and Long form.
2. What is the Structure Genre?
There are three categories of the Structure Genre our stories can fall into: Archplot, Miniplot, and Antiplot.
3. What is the Style Genre?
The STYLE GENRE sets the tone for what the audience will experience during the story. It puts constraints on what we include in the story to keep a consistent feel so the audience does not get confused.
This genre leaf is divided into two broad categories and several mediums. The broad categories are Drama and Comedy. The mediums include Documentary, Musical, Dance, Literary, Theatrical, Cinematic, Epistolary, and Animation.
4. What is the Reality Genre?
The REALITY GENRE constrains the way the ALTERNATE WORLD of our story operates by establishing codes, laws, and norms. It dictates how much readers must suspend disbelief when building the worlds of our stories in their minds.
There are four categories of the Reality Genre our stories can fall into: Absurdism, Factualism, Realism, and Fantasy.
5. What is the Content Genre?
The CONTENT GENRE defines what is contained in a story and specifically determines the need and VALUE at stake. It sets expectations for the reader using the FOUR CORE FRAMEWORK, CONVENTIONS, and OBLIGATORY MOMENTS. The Content Genre is divided into two sections: external and internal.
The external content genres of writing are:
The internal content genres of writing are:
Additional Resources for Genres of Writing:
- Story Grid 101: The First Five Principles of the Story Grid Methodology by Shawn Coyne
- The Four Core Framework: Needs, Life Values, Emotions and Events in Storytelling by Shawn Coyne
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