Genre

Previously, we have seen that the characteristics which build the Objective Characters reside at the Element level of the Thematic Structure. Theme itself emanates most strongly from the Variation level. Plot is generated in the Types. It should not be a surprise, therefore, to find that

Genre is most influenced at the Class level. In fact, matching a point of view to a Class creates a story's Domains, and it is these Domains that have the greatest structural impact on Genre.

As one moves up the Dramatica structure, looking from Character to Theme to Plot, the structural components (the Elements, Variations, and Types) take on a decreasing significance to the finished work compared to the storytelling aspects involved. Objective Characters are very easy to define solely in terms of their Elemental dramatic functions. Theme is a bit less tied to the structure as it explores the comparison between two dramatic Variations whose balance must be established by the author in the process of storytelling. Plot can be looked at rather precisely in terms of Acts, but is less so when it comes to thematic Sequences. At the Scene resolution of Plot a large part of what goes on is storytelling. At Event resolution, determining exactly what events ought to occur is almost exclusively storytelling, with the events falling into four broad structural categories.

Following this progression it stands to reason that Genre, which centers on the Class level just above where Plot is found, would be the least structural of story aspects and also the most influenced by storytelling. And so it is.

In a casual sampling of traditional Genres, we immediately notice that Genre sometimes refers to the setting of a story, as in Westerns or Science Fiction. Other times, it describes the relationships between characters such as Love Stories and Buddy Pictures. Genre might pertain to the feeling an audience gets from a story as in Comedy and Horror Stories. Even styles of storytelling can have their own Genres like Musicals or Character Studies.

With all these different duties performed by the word Genre, how can we hope to define it? An attempt is made by video rental stores. All the old standards are there dividing the movies on their shelves: Action, Drama, Children's. This is fine for picking out what you want to watch some evening, but not much help to authors trying to create stories of their own.

Producer: "Write me a war story!"

Writer: "O.K. What do you wantr something like M.A.S.H. or Platoon or The Great Escape?"

Traditional Genre categories are really only useful for grouping finished works. The overall feel of a story is created from a blending of many different components that have an impact on the audience. These range from the underlying dramatic structure (storyform) through the subject matter (encoding) and style (weaving) to audience expectations (reception).

The traditional concept of Genre is most useful to writers by keeping them mindful of the "flavor" of their story, no matter if they are working on character, plot, or theme. Genre would be a lot more useful if it could be clearly defined. This is where Dramatica can help.

Dramatica intends to help writers construct the deep structure which underlies their stories. This framework functions as the dramatic skeleton upon which the specifics of a story are built. Story encoding then places muscle on the skeleton, Story weaving clothes the creation, and Reception affects how the audience might react to such a thing.

When considering Genre from an author's point of view -rather than the traditional audience point of view -- the most critical aspect will be structural. That is where the foundation is laid, upon which the storytelling will be built. The first step of seeing Genre this way is to look at the four Classes. These four Classes indicate the nature of the subject matter that will be covered in a story's Genre. To recap, the four Classes are:

^Universe p; an external state; commonly seen as a situation. ^Physics p; an external process; commonly seen as an activity. ^Mind p; an internal state; commonly seen as a fixed attitude or bias. ^Psychology p; an internal process; commonly seen as a manner of thinking or manipulation.

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