I thought of some other genres to write up like yesterday’s post about mysteries.

  • Adventure.  The main character has to do some sort of big goal that requires putting themselves at physical risk somehow.  So every scene, the character should try to achieve their goal by taking a physical risk that fails to resolve the goal, and not only that, but fails to achieve whatever goal they had for the scene–or make the situation overall worse somehow.  Finally, the character has been backed into such a damn corner that there’s no way out.  NONE.  Then you jot down some ideas about how the character could get out–hypothetically.  Toss out at least the first three, voila, write the fourth, and then go back into the rest of the story and fix all the necessary loopholes that allow the character to pull that ending off–put Chekov’s guns on the wall, as it were.  The character is rewarded, yay! the end.
  • Romance.  The main characters need to end up together. Every step of the way, you push them apart, or bring them together in a way that will absolutely sabotage their future happiness.  Dumbassery is not only acceptable, but de rigeur.  Write the big scene where you’ve backed them into a corner, find the most inventive/interesting/touching way to resolve that, lay down your Chekov’s loopholes, happy ending, the end.
  • Horror.  One or more of the characters is wrong.  Every step of the way, the character tries to prove themselves right, but fails in a way that makes everything worse (“It’s fine if we split up”).  The corner that you back them into is the one that says, “I can no longer deny that I am wrong.”  And then they either change or die (or, in the case of The Exorcist, change and die).  Other characters might die as illustrative examples and/or as wish fulfillment.
  • You can combine these as necessary–a romantic adventure, say, Romancing the Stone, is mostly an adventure with romantic subplots.  So most of the time, the characters face physical danger in pursuit of their goals, and fail on a physical level.  But sometimes they try to come closer to each other and fail on an emotional level.  They even do this at the same time, if I remember correctly.

The thing is:  every scene.  You don’t have to start out in media res.  But once you get things set up so that we know what’s at stake here, every scene.  The peaceful interlude has to end with the thing that every scene ends with, even if it pops up out of nowhere.

If you liked today’s post, please check out By Dawn’s Bloody Light.  They didn’t mean to piss off the fairies…no, wait, they did.  In retrospect they totally did.