Translate Into Genre
Re-write, as genre writing, up to three pages of an existing work (yours). Choices can include Noir Thriller, Sci-fi, Murder Mystery, Romance, Young Adult, Magic/Fantasy. The gotcha: you must describe the same events, not just transplant the characters or issues into new events typical of the genre.
Notes & Hints:
Perhaps less incisive than our other prompts, but a bit more to the point for editing with intention.
Choose a genre that lends itself to your work; the editing lessons have to do with exploiting potential, clearing away what does not support the work, owning ones‘s unconscious structuring, etc.
Choose a genre at odds with your work and the editing lessons are re-purposing, adaptation, and the difficult, subtle work of “surfacing” content within a defined form.
Whatever you choose, this exercise can test the distance between your abilities as a writer and what a reader understands and expects. If you love sc-fi, for instance, but never write it, you might be surprised how hard it is to make effective sci-fi genre prose.
Using your own writing as a starting point can either slow you down or give you advantages. The reasons for this are surprisingly complex. Genre writing requires both a discernible respect for the forms and tropes, but also an original take on some of those, either as single instance (a cliche turned on its head), or in the arc of the work (an unexpected character does expected things, the setting is familiar but the action is atypical to the genre, etc).
For writers of personal, creative fiction, this exercise can distill one’s style in surprising ways, not least being to reveal (and loosen) the aspects of one’s style that are hidden, fixed, or taken for granted.
The goal is not to make a perfect genre piece. It’s to stretch one’s “containment muscles”—the way we automatically fit things just so into a genre or format—and to become more conscious of the limits we impose in all our writing.
For a deeper challenge, try Philosophical Treatise, Scientific Paper, How-to Manual, or Epic Poetry.