What constitutues “Plot” in fiction? GENRE’s a big factor

20 12 2012

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

I’m still making my way through Charles Dickens–“Dombey and Son,” one of his longer works–and besides feeling utterly depressed because I’d forgotten how tragic his vision of humanity always is, I’m realizing how thin the “plot” is in this novel (though I’m really enjoying it.) And that got me thinking:

What Dickens does–passing off characterization and even just character study as plot–would not pass today in most genres other than literary fiction. This is nothing groundbreaking, but it reminded me how strongly genre influences a writer’s definition of “plot.”

I wrote a post a while back about romantic relationships in fantasy literature, which kind of touches on this: my basic argument was that a romance by itself really shouldn’t be a major focus in a fantasy plot. While it can be a fun subplot and play a dynamic secondary role, if the crux of your plot in a fantasy novel…

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