Picking a Narrative Genre To Write

[CHOICES]—Writing is a process of deliberation. It involves identifying and enacting choices, strategies, and moves.

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Choose whether you wish to write your Flash Narrative as fiction or nonfiction. Then answer all the questions in a post of 250 or more words. Finally, read the sample text from your chosen genre (which you’ll find in this week’s readings) to prepare for next week’s discussion.

While all narratives use similar techniques for similar purposes, different narrative genres use different conventions and approaches to produce different results. To help you write your story as effectively as possible, you will now choose which narrative genre you wish to write so you may study the genre more closely. This assignment asks you to choose a genre, analyze that genre to answer questions about that selection, and read the associated sample text. Next week, you will be grouped together with other students writing in your genre to share ideas on the reading in the Week 3 Discussion.

Picking a Narrative Genre To Write

While narrative can be broken into a huge number of genres and subgenres, for the purposes of this class, we will use the following very basic classification:

Nonfiction: This genre expresses feelings and thoughts about the world through personal experience or research or a combination of both. Its goal is to narrate lived experience in such a way as to communicate the emotional meaning of things rather than simple facts. While based on reality, nonfiction ranges from the very literal to the greatly exaggerated in the attempt to communicate what something feels like rather than the fact of a thing. Specific subgenres of narrative nonfiction include memoir, topical creative nonfiction, humorous nonfiction, and the personal essay.

Fiction: This genre is the narration of anything that did not literally happen. It uses imagination rather than reality as its starting point, though much fiction does seek to provide a realistic, tangible feel. The goal of fiction is to use language to create a meaningful emotional experience for a reader. Fiction can include anything from a made up domestic drama about divorce to science fiction about discovery of an alien world. It is even possible to write autobiographical fiction, to intermix experiences or feelings from one’s own life with made up places, people, and events. Popular subgenres of fiction include romance, adventure, fantasy, comedy, and many others.

Consider the ideas you are generating for the Week 2 Discussion and any others that appeal to you and choose which of these two genres you feel will best allow you to tell your story. Then answer the following questions and read the associated sample narrative in preparation for next week.

Which genre do you choose to write for your narrative assignment? Pick a genre that genuinely interests you or will allow you to express an idea you want to share. No genre is easier or simpler than another. The more invested you are in what you’re writing, the easier and more pleasant the writing is likely to be.

Try to categorize your story as a subgenre (such as fictional mystery, romantic adventure, humorous nonfiction, or dramatic memoir). Look for elements of your story that relate to different genres and decide what two genres best describe your idea. Try thinking “My ideas has some of X but also has some elements of Y.” Then add genres X and Y together.

Name two effects your story will have to create in readers to be effective. Use what you know about your genre (and subgenre) to identify the expectations readers have for the genre. What will you need to do as a writer to make certain that you meet those expectations?

What challenges do you think this genre will present to you as a writer? Consider both the genre but also the idea for your story and how the two fit together. Be specific and consider what you will actually have to do in your writing to create an effective flash narrative, keeping in mind how short it must be. Think of stories you know in the genre that didn’t work or where something went wrong. How might you overcome those challenges in the space you have? Mention specific ideas and/or techniques about how your idea meets the needs of the genre, not on general storytelling.

Be sure to include a word count at the bottom of the post.

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