Romance vs Women's Fiction
Romance is a love story between two people. The plot of a romance novel is the developing relationship, focusing on the internal conflicts of the lovers and/or other external conflicts that may be occurring. A readers expectation in a romance novel is a happily ever after for the couple.
Women's fiction focuses on the journey of a woman's self-development. It focuses on the relationships of a woman or other issues she may be faced with. Women's fiction may or may not contain romance and if it does, it does not demand a happily-ever-after. Women's fiction may explore issues such as self-discovery, new careers, relationships with friends or family members, and any number of other life issues. Generally, women's fiction contains only the point of view of the strong female characters, but a male point of view may appear on occasion.
Crime/Mystery vs Thriller/Suspense Novels
A crime novel focuses on a mystery (most often a murder, but could be kidnapping or something very sinister) that a character needs to solve. The hero needs to follow clues and use investigative techniques to solve the crime. In the end, the crime MUST be solved.
A thriller novel focuses on the threat of danger and the suspense that this creates for the character. The hero must possess the necessary skills to divert or defend against the threat. A crime may or may not have actually been committed. In the end, the threat MUST be contained.
Type of Crime/Mystery Subgenres
This is when a crime occurs in a world where violence is rare, therefore, the crime seems more sinister and emotionally engaging - a small town or isolated setting (cabin in the woods or large estate). The crime occurs and the hero is not necessarily the detective but helps in some capacity to solve the mystery. It is solved and the usual tranquillity of the world is restored.
Hard Boiled Crime
This is when a crime happens in a location that sees crime happen on a daily basis - think big city detective books. The hero has the capacity to solve the crime. He may be a cop or PI, but may not be. When the crime is solved, the resolution may be bittersweet, because it is likely the hero may be called to another crime tomorrow. Hard boiled crime novels are popular in series.
Here, the crime occurs and is solved by people in a police setting. It runs along the lines of the Hard Boiled Crime subgenre, but that doesn't mean that you can't write a police procedural in a cosy setting. A police procedural may have a larger cast and will focus on things such as police tactics, station politics, and the lives of those who work with the police.
Medical or Forensic
These are crimes novels in which the mystery is solved through the workings of medical examiners or a forensic team and follows the guidelines of hard boiled or cosy mystery. These characters may be doctors, medical examiners, pathologists, or other technical experts. It focuses on the science and intelligence of characters, not on guns or weapons. This may be similar to police procedural, but will focus on analysing the evidence.
This subgenre centres around the threat of a catastrophe that will affect a large group of people, whether that be a community, city, country, or the entire planet. The threat may not create total devastation, but the effect of the action must be catastrophic. The villain may be a terrorist or an ordinary person who is capable of creating large damage. The protagonist must possess the skills to defeat the villain and therefore may be a soldier, spy, cop, or even an ordinary civilian with a special set of skills. The action is brisk and may be nonstop. The climax must be well foreshadowed and unexpected.
The reader wants a lovable and strong hero with an impossible mission, a diabolical nemesis, and a fast-paced book with clever and believable plot twists.
Examples of Thriller Novels (That I've read):
- Seven Ancient Wonders and the series by Matthew Reilly - an ancient prophecy will destroy the world unless a small team of heroes can stop it.
- Cry of the Firebird by T.M. Clark - A doctor discovers a pharmaceutical company is delivering drugs that are making whole African communities sick.
In this subgenre, the threat is still catastrophic, but it is more contained and usually only targets the hero. The hero is more often than not an ordinary person. These books are still fast-paced, but the action is more deliberate and may centre on the psychological effect of the threat upon the hero. Examples may include the threat to kidnap a child, to enact revenge, or leaving threats.
The reader wants to be left wondering what is going to happen. Twists are again the key. They want interesting and disturbing revelations one after the other. Character is very important. You want to leave your reader with the sense of dread and panic without explosive action such as car chases or gun fights.
Examples of Thrillers and Suspense Novels (That I've read):
- The Secrets she Keeps by Michael Robotham - a woman plots to kidnap another woman's child.
- Montana Sky by Nora Roberts - a killer is lurking on a ranch threatening the lives of three sisters.
Memoir vs Autobiography
Memoir tells the story of a life or a life experience. It examines a life, a person, and does so by examining a certain aspect of the person's life that they wish to tell. They follow the same story arc as fiction with action leading to a climax. A memoir lays down the evidence of a life and allows the reader to make the conclusions.
An autobiography is an account of a person's life story, stemming from their birth, through their childhood, and the events that lead up to the climax of their life.
The main difference is that while they are both true stories of the author's life, a MEMOIR focuses on a single experience or incident. An AUTOBIOGRAPHY is a chronological narration of a person's life story.
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