A genre is a category, or a group, of similar types of literature. For example, mysteries are a genre, or group of stories that are similar in how they have some type of whodunit riddle to solve, a person who follows the trail of clues, with witnesses and alibis and red herrings, too!
Genre influences plot. If the plot is the series of events that propels your reader from the beginning of your manuscript to the end, then genre is the “address” for your plot. For example, if the setting of your story takes place in France, there will be French people walking down the streets. You might have your main character speak a word in French now and then such as “Oui,” (yes) or “Merci,” (thank you) or “Bonne nuit” (good night). Your characters might eat escargot when staying at a friend’s house for dinner, or go to the Eiffel Tower for a school field trip.
Likewise, if your plot is all about a fourth grade boy going on a journey to find his missing sister, the genre you choose to use will influence your plot. If you choose to write a science fiction story, your main character will use high-tech scientific gadgets such as rocket ships or gamma rays or photosynthesis within each of the events that moves your reader from the beginning to the ending of your manuscript. Or if you choose to write historical fiction, you main character will live during an actual era in history such as the American Revolution and ride in a carriage past the Liberty Bell on his search.
It’s important to become familiar with different genres used in children’s writing. Since genre is a category, you’ll find sections at your local bookstore where different genres are grouped. In your public library, different books are also grouped on different shelves in different parts of the library according to which genre they fall into. If your manuscript gets published as a children’s book, it will be labeled on the Internet, stocked in a bookstore, or shelved at a library according to its genre. And since genre influences plot, it’s good to learn the basics about various kinds of genres.
So grab your notebook and pen! We’re going to be studying genre in upcoming posts here on my blog so that when we get back to discussing plot, we’ll have a better understanding of how the genre you choose to use influences the plot in your story.