Introduction to Writing Genre Fiction
with Rosemary Tantra Bensko
Surprisingly few people truly know the ins and outs of all the major fiction genres. Without this knowledge, we’re prone to making serious mistakes when trying to write in those genres. When you have an idea for a story, book or screenplay, you need to figure out which genre to write it in and how to organize it according to genre conventions, which vary quite widely. You need to understand which genre fits your worldview, what possibilities do and don’t exist within it, and the effect you want to have on the audience.
Knowing genre conventions can help you decide if you want to write in a certain genre, how to structure the POVs, which character archetypes are expected, how to create satisfying arcs, suspense, the kind of ending readers of the genre seek, what type of language to use, and all the other aspects that make a tale provide the type of pleasure that fans of that genre are looking for. You might even want to rewrite your draft into another genre that has more earning potential, has become more popular, or is more fitting for your vision.
Join us in this workshop as we work you through those decisions. You’ll take quizzes based on the lectures to make sure you know the rules. Otherwise, your choices customize your experiences.
- You can write a completely new passage with entirely unique narrative for each lecture, with no need to have the whole plot outlined, though ideally you can provide a general sketch of the progress of the protagonist.
- Or you can keep rewriting the concept but transformed into each new genre. Rather than write a passage, you can write an outline for each unit if preferred.
- Or you can begin with your specific individual project – is it to mull it over and fill us in on your process as you figure out which genre you want to write your book in?
- And — Are you sure you don’t want to write your story as Sci Fi, or write any Sci Fi ever? (For example.) That’s OK, you don’t need to write Sci-Fi that week, just take the quiz and provide feedback for fellow students’ assignments and keep working out the concepts and questions most pertinent to your progress.
Rosemary took my writing to a new level.
Genre Fiction Writing Course Outline
For each genre unit (2-9), you’ll read the lecture, take the quiz, upload your passage and what you can of the plot outline of the full narrative, sketching out the characters, theme, etc. This can be for a short story, novella, novel or screenplay. Minimum suggested wordcount each unit is approximately 500, maximum is 7500, the upper length of a short story. Then, provide feedback to the other students.
Week 1: Orientation
After familiarizing yourself with the course and introducing yourself, let us know your project goals, what skills you particularly want to strengthen, what themes you want to get across, who your best audience is.
Week 2: Thriller
Fast-paced nail-biting action throughout as the protagonist gives everything he’s got to stopping a crime before everything is destroyed.
Week 3: Suspense
The reader knows more than the protagonist and sees the danger coming, making him want to yell at the person at risk during this slow-paced genre in which the main thrust is the dread of what might happen to him.
Week 4: Horror
The only Genre style in which Tragedy is allowed, Horror also has the option for an upbeat ending in which the lesson was learned.
Week 5: Romance
Dual POVs alternate between scenes or chapters as the protagonist, usually the woman, and the antagonist, usually the man, begin with what seems like an impossible situation in which to fall in love, but they do, and commit by the end. Many alternatives related to gender and sub-genres such as bear shape-shifter are popular, and the heat level goes from sweet Amish to steamy BDSM.
Week 6: Fantasy
Often in the Hero’s Journey model in which the protagonist plunges into a new world to bring back something of value to the community, this genre tends to stick to one fantastical set of elements. The protagonist has a strong arc as she overcomes her flaw to rise to the occasion presented by the antagonist.
Week 7: Sci-Fi
While it can merge to become Sci Fi Fantasy, otherwise, it’s strictly supposed to be believable future scenarios, especially if it’s Hard Sci Fi, though Soft Sci Fi allows some leeway, more focus on emotions and psychology and playing creatively with structure.
Week 8: Mystery
A delicious cerebral puzzle as we follow a sleuth solving who committed a crime.
Week 9: Literary
Can take chances and innovate with storytelling, and the narrator’s unique voice should excite readers sentence by sentence.
Week 10: You
Sum up what you’ve learned about your preferred genre for your project and which ones you are drawn to for later works. Take time to turn in anything you’re behind on and catch up with commenting on your fellow students’ assignments.
Student Feedback for Rosemary Tantra Bensko:
Rosemary is the real thing. She is experienced and knowledgable, tough and fair, thorough and completely supportive. It's clear that she understood what I was trying to do; she supported that. Anne Hodges White
I love Rosemary. Her feedback was generous and helpful. I thought the lectures were the best so far on Writers.com. There are a few classes I'm looking forward to taking. I really like working with Rosemary, she's wonderful. Laura Secor
I am thrilled that not only did I get started writing poems, but with the inspiration and guidance provided in Poetry Workshop, have actually written a few that feel meaningful to me. I even have had one accepted for publication! Melissa Haylock
Rosemary was amazing, and her lessons so thoughtful and thought provoking. After 34 years since the last time I tried to write poetry I was quite nervous, but she helped me start to find my voice again and I remembered how deeply I had loved poetry. Barbara White
I loved Poetry Workshop. Rosemary was both pointed and supportive in her critique, and I really feel I developed as a writer. She pulled fantastic poetry for our weekly readings, and her lessons were always clear and constructive. Tamara Kreutz
Rosemary Bensko is an excellent teacher. Her course instruction and selection of poems are to the point. She's also very sharp in commenting on our writings and guiding us to improve our pieces. Her recorded analysis of a poem for each unit is my favorite. It's full of insight and her voice is so pleasant. Hongying Liu
Rosemary Bensko's instructional materials and attention to student work is professional and engaged beyond the expectations for an online course. Her attention to our work is so prompt and engaged—she takes the construction of a good poem seriously and that's exactly what you want in a poetry instructor. She attends to language, the presentation of feeling, the development of idea and story in a poem. I'm currently taking my 3rd class with her. Nina Goss
Rosemary's feedback was prompt, copious and direct. She was very honest with her comments without being harsh or negative. Her enthusiasm was contagious and she continuously pushed me to grow and get better. I was also blown away by the breadth and depth of the lectures and associated learning material. Rosemary's resources will offer me months if not years of further study. Marcus Hilgers
This course was challenging and fun. Rosemary's critiques were very helpful and I am a better poet thanks to her constructive and encouraging comments. It forced me to write each week and that was good for my body and soul. Gwen Morden
Rosemary was excellent. She had a way with words! I admired her ability to herd a rag-tag band of wannabe writers a little further down the writing road. George Simard
Rosemary is an excellent teacher, encouraging yet critical at the same time. She helped my hone my writing skills and improve the structure of my work. Judy Hampson
I was thrilled with my first course with Writers.com and with my instructor, Rosemary Bensko. This was a way for me to begin writing regularly with support and feedback and I learned so much more than I had anticipated. Rosemary is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and gives generous, positive feedback that is also direct and useful. I wanted to grow my skills and I felt like I did. I was so happy that I started another course the very next week! Julie Gibbs
Rosemary is brilliant, engaged, gives both inline and general feedback and even includes audio feedback for tackling certain problems in your writing. I learned where my writing belongs and in what genre I was able to write. Rosemary is an inspiring teacher; I’ll be delighted to take another of her classes. Sophie Cayeux
Rosemary taught me so much about using muscular language and avoiding expository narratives. The lectures were amazing. I read them all the time. Benjamin Magie
Rosemary was wonderful. Always encouraging, very kind in feedback but always pushing you on to make the draft better. It’s hard to achieve that balance. I really liked the way she recorded the feedback so that it felt more personal. I liked the Haiku Learning website she used too. There was plenty of choice of assignment and they were interesting and challenging. Everything was useful in moving us to the goal of getting our story/stories finished. I thought the notes given were especially interesting and generous and although I am a compulsory buyer of books on writing, there was much that was new or better explained (loved the information on different types of short story - some of which I hadn’t come across; and the discussion of different ways of developing the plot was very useful to me.) I ended up with what I wanted from the course - a goodish draft of a story. I see so many more classes I’d like to do! Sharon Bakar
Rosemary's editing was amazing! I learned a lot about removing narration and getting to the action. Norma Kaufman
I loved this class. And Rosemary. I feel that I have made a transition (finally) with her and might actually have the confidence to really begin to write seriously . She is honest, constructive and has really help build my confidence. I am away at the moment but will be in touch re private classes with her. I will be interested in any class she is doing! Jeanette del Olmo
Rosemary presented her critiques in a positive light but made relevant and helpful comments. I often took a step away after reading her response to my work and then came back to revise. Each time, I felt that the changes I made improved the quality of the piece. I emailed Rosemary several times with questions, and she was quick to respond. I would not hesitate to take another class from her. I felt the lectures were stimulating and the assignments were challenging. Both forced me to engage and push myself to another level. I have recommended your site to others and hope to continue taking classes from Writers.com. Janis Brams
Have you always wanted to write the perfect story? Explore your inner visions and commit them to paper? Be prepared, Rosemary Bensko will set you on fire...as a teacher she has the unique gift to be able to identify within you your innate spark of creativity and ignite the ether of your imagination, to reveal to you the magic of your words. She is that good. As a writer I can testify to the value of working with Rosemary. Growing up I have always enjoyed words. I love to spin them around, phrasing moments in time, to make them clear and born anew. And when I took her class, Rosemary got that right away and encouraged me to play with the tools of language, providing me resources to help stretch my imagination. With her tutorship, I was able to refine my writing skills while retaining the desire to honor that which flows from the heart. That is a very good thing. I wholeheartedly recommend you take this class and allow Rosemary to help you to bring your writing up to the next level... Paul Barnett
This was challenging and substantive. Rosemary's readings of our posted work were invariably prompt, detailed, and constructive. As usual, the participants were serious, generous, and ambitious writers and readers. Rosemary is engaged and professional. I admire her as a fellow teacher and am grateful to be her student. Nina Goss
Thanks for the class. I downloaded all the lectures. I feel like MicroObstacles and Flow is a great technique. It is taking me time and thought to process... I want to really be able to apply this to my own fiction/works, so I will probably take the class again once I get more of a handle on the technique... I have taken several classes from Rosemary. I have tried to put all of her feedback into practice. My writing (and reading and viewing) craft have improved with every class. One of my pieces that I workshopped in Rosemary's classes has been published. I just feel so grateful for her mentorship and turning me on to Writers.com!... Chris Perkins