NVDT #82 – And Then, Um…Everybody Lived Happily Ever After!


Is (Are) ‘genre-bending’ and ‘genre hybrid’ a reality(ies) or a fallacy(ies)? Has plot changed since Shakespeare or the Bible?

Yes, they are. And not much. But first – Story time –

“First there was a mean lady. I ‘member her ‘cause she had some really, um, mean ugly daughters. They were so ugly their names were the Fuglies and ’cause they were so ugly was why the lady was mean ’cause she was gonna be stuck with them f’rever ’cause of it. An then there was a party in the castle an everybody wanted to go but ‘Rella couldn’t ’cause her clothes were sucky but some birds and mice got helped by a big dog so they could ran away from a cat and and they made a magic dress for ‘Rella but the mean lady an the Fuglies messed it all up an ‘Rella cried ’cause she couldn’t go to the party. And and then a mom who was a fairy came and fixed it all with a wand like Tinkerbelle’s only she was kinda fat not like Tinkerbelle but with the same wand and and and she wanded the mice into horses and ‘Rella went to the party in a pumpkin. Then, um, the pumpkin turned back into a pumpkin. An a man in white pants with only half his glasses ’cause he only needed to see one foot knocked on the door and and he, well, he brought the glass shoe inside to see who was there could wear it an the Fuglies cut off their toes even and there was blood an everything but the shoe didn’t fit their Fugly fat feet anyway, and and and then the mice ‘scaped ‘Rella and she ran downstairs to see the half glasses man an the shoe fit her! And and and then ‘Rella gave the mean old lady an the Fuglies the finger and…Um… everybody lived happily ever after!”

“Did your Papa read you this story?”

“Um… Yeah. An we ate popcorn and drank two lemonades.”

“And Cinderella gave the Mean Lady and the Fuglies the finger?”

“Well yeah ’cause they were total butt heads to her. Who you callin’?”


Deviations in language or other incongruous updates are not “bent.” Same story, same plot. It could become the Biker chick dystopia sub genre of Tough as Nails female lead genre. A sub genre of Hero’s Journey – RomCom Female lead, sub genre of Hero’s Journey – RomCom sub genre of Hero’s Journey – Comedy, Sub genre of Epic-Comedy… until we end up at the Adventure or Fantasy or Drama header. Which is why this conversation really belongs in the same room with people who think grammar rules should apply to dialogue, but it’s not. So…

Further confusion arises when film types randomly interchange Genre with Style, and when other articles posted on the all knowing internet misfire and call the basic elements of fiction plots. Posted by teachers who should know better. Worse, “Conflict” and “Resolution” are being taught as mandatory “story elements” in elementary school. Is peripeteia really a requirement to be entertained?

And the bastardized “Elements” of fiction are now trending to adults as “beats.” Check out most of the “how to” fiction writing being purveyed and you’ll discover “beats”’ are all the rage. “Beats” are the age old Elements of Fiction, repackaged. I assume for the benefit of the authors who are pandering to our crowd, hoping through lack of exposure by prior vocation or design that we are unaware their “secrets” are older than the written word.

Archetypes and stereotypes and genre and beats… Quick – Four Trickster Archetypes – uh, uh, Coyote, and, and Goldilocks, uh… B’rer Rabbit (and his Nigerian cousin Zomo) and Bart Simpson who grew up to be Dionysus! Great! Now, they’re all on Mars, shapeshifting and sycophanting their way into a giant Gefunkensnot 19 heist Three acts, nine beats, offstage violence, lots of humor. Go!

Difficult to pigeonhole? A whole new concept?

Crime Fiction- sub genre comedic heist or caper, dystopia.

I used to think that Genre was the costume, the set, the environment, the complete “om-be-awnz” inhabited and traversed by the story’s population with setting as a subset. I still do, quietly. It’s not worth entering into the story form vs genre vs style argument because at some point it’s simply semantics. Examples: Science Fiction is a certified Genre. Action/Adventure (sub Epic) is a certified Genre (or two). So what’s Star Wars? Mad Max? Mystery is a certified Genre. So is Horror. Is Alien a sub genre of Horror or Science Fiction or Mystery? See? Pigeonholing them can be done, but why bother… They’re all costume dramas of one kind or another.

Plot, though, makes more sense because it is the totality of EVENTS in the dramatic story form. The storyline. Plot is independent of genre and setting although sub genres will suggest form (procedural, say, which might be a quest…Jesus…). Plot is the infrastructure of the story, even if at times it seems to vanish or become ambiguous. However something is always happening on every page. Scenes are being set, characters act and respond (or don’t) to some activity by persons or nature and there are consequences, immediate or telegraphed or for simple entertainment value diversion. Whether or not those activities are part of a goal driven story (conflict and resolution) are not relevant because the goal might take an entire series of events (the plot) to be exposed. Or it might be two hours SOC in the St. Louis airport on Mother’s Day. I have an entire riff on what is valuable content here.

This page at The Pulp.Net will send you to the plot chroniclers Polti, Palmer, Heath and the Grandaddy of them all, William Wallace Cook. Think maybe you or someone you know has reinvented the wheel? Check out Plotto, the real deal wheel. Take old guy married to young woman. What can go wrong? The Miller’s Tale to A Perfect Murder and probably thousands of procedurals from cozies to time warp vampires to Midsommer Murders. More of that Genre cross curriculum activity. It’s also Number 213 in Plotto, with cross references for sub plot(s). Call central casting and embellish them in genre as you will, the story can still be boiled down to framework.

Genre and Plot. Plot is, Genre is subjective. Don’t believe me? Say no more…

To see what other hoppers think click the link below


Yes, I own Plotto. It will do nothing for skill, but it will help get Danger Barbie and Hunky Ken out of a grass hut in a monsoon because they got there and, and, and…

Published by

Phil Huston


19 thoughts on “NVDT #82 – And Then, Um…Everybody Lived Happily Ever After!”

      1. I always wondered what dry gulched was and thought you’d find out for me!
        Now that I know, I suspect there could me some nod nod wink wink use for it in some interpersonal activities. ie Sam was in such a hurry he dry gulched me! The second part of that phrase may be left up to the imagination.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I think perhaps there are only so many possible structures built into the brain to organize ideas, dreams, and experiences into something coherent. Even something that seems “avant garde” or deconstructed or whatever stupid words you want to use has an underlying coherence, or at the very least an idea holding it together underneath.

    And I’m glad that “beat” is indeed stupid! I hate the word in that context! It’s hard to explain but certain words have certain bodily feelings or sounds and “beat” used that way bothers me so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with all of that. Particularly the bit about “chaos” and the “arty” words used to describe it. There are only so many stories. You can dress the fairy Godmother in black leather and give her blue wings and magic powers. Whether she makes a time machine or some glass slippers to get Cinderella away from cross dimensional sword wielding step sisters it’s the same story. So nothing is bent or modulated. A crime fiction procedural on the seventh moon of Huflungdung 27 in the Moosescrotum galaxy is Columbo in a space suit, regardless of Bone’s never before heard of forensic technology.

      Don’t get me started on the “beats” thing. I have a whole long personal experience rant on Stanford over that. Beats – The elements of fiction for ESL and drop-outs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, not surprised. Stanford, west coast Ivy League, and best they can do is write “nicely done.” These schools are a ripoff. People make a big deal about how they’re attending X University to study under Professor Big Fucking Arrogant Asshole when they will never actually lay eyes on the person except for their picture in their website bio. Whatever grad student taught your class was probably too important to teach you if your pedigree is less than Stanford. One time in undergraduate, a professor, a couple other students, and I visited Yale for a talk on some word salad paper. We were talking to a very famous “scholar” who was chatting away with our professor until she heard what school we hailed from and then she turned around and walked away. I am certain I don’t come off bitter about academia at all. Wish you got all your money back. Better off self-taught, all the greats were.

        Liked by 1 person

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