Defining Genre, Theme, & Key Scenes

Wonder Years, Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Are you ready to craft a captivating novel that engages your readers and leaves them wanting more? Understanding the genre, theme, and key scenes is essential for crafting a compelling story that resonates with your audience.

In this post, I’ll share my process for defining the genre, theme, and key scenes of my novel, and how they helped me structure a story that is engaging and meaningful. Keep reading to learn how to define these essential elements.

First, let’s start with the genre. My novel would probably be categorized as Young Adult Fiction. Defining genre is so important because it lets the reader know what to expect as well as where to find your book in the library or bookstore.

I’ve always been drawn to coming of age stories. Think Wonder Years, Now & Then, and My Girl. Coming of age is a popular genre that focuses on the protagonist’s journey from adolescence to adulthood. I chose this genre because I wanted to explore the challenges and triumphs of growing up in the 90’s, which I think is a universal experience that many Xennial and Millennial readers can relate to and want their kids to understand as well.

Next, let’s talk about the theme. The theme is the central idea or message that the story conveys. For my novel, the theme is the search for true contentment and asks the question “is all that glitters gold?” Throughout the story, my protagonist navigates through various challenges and obstacles to discover who they truly are and what they want out of life. Friendship, love, and community are secondary themes.

Some key scenes and conventions in the Coming of Age genre include:

  1. The Introduction: The introduction typically sets the stage for the protagonist’s journey into adulthood. This scene usually establishes the protagonist’s personality, relationships, and circumstances, which will be transformed throughout the story.
  2. The Conflict: A common convention in coming of age stories is the introduction of a conflict that forces the protagonist to confront difficult choices and challenges. This conflict may be internal or external, and it often drives the plot forward.
  3. The Journey: The protagonist’s journey is a central element in coming of age stories. This journey is usually both physical and emotional, and it often involves the protagonist leaving their comfort zone to explore new experiences and ideas.
  4. The Mentor: The mentor is a common character in coming of age stories. This character is typically an older, wiser person who guides the protagonist through their journey and helps them to learn important life lessons.
  5. The Turning Point: The turning point is a pivotal scene in coming of age stories that marks a significant change in the protagonist’s life. This scene often involves a moment of realization or self-discovery that propels the protagonist toward their ultimate goal.
  6. The Climax: The climax is the most intense point in the story, where the protagonist faces their greatest challenge and must make a difficult decision that will determine their fate.
  7. The Resolution: The resolution is the final scene of the story, where the protagonist has achieved their goal and has grown into a new, mature version of themselves. This scene often emphasizes the lessons the protagonist has learned and the new perspective they have gained.

The coming of age genre also has several conventions that are commonly used as well. These conventions include:

  1. The protagonist is typically a young person, often a teenager or young adult, who is on the cusp of adulthood.
  2. The protagonist is faced with a significant challenge or struggle that causes them to mature and grow. They have an inner conflict (desire vs. fear)
  3. The protagonist is often trying to find their place in the world, whether that be in terms of their identity, their relationships, or their goals and aspirations.
  4. The story often takes place over a period of time, allowing the protagonist to go through a transformative journey.
  5. The story often includes a mentor or guide who helps the protagonist navigate their journey and offers guidance and advice.
  6. The story often explores themes of self-discovery, identity, relationships, and personal growth.
  7. The story often ends with the protagonist having learned an important lesson or having gained a new perspective on life.

Overall, the coming of age genre is focused on the personal growth and the conventions listed above are used to explore this theme in a compelling and relatable way. Researching writing coming of age has been a fun experience and has helped me get my creative wheels turning?

What genre do you enjoy reading or writing?

Most popular fiction genres:

  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Dystopian
  • Adventure
  • Romance
  • Detective & Mystery
  • Horror
  • Thriller
  • Historical Fiction
  • Young Adult (YA)
  • Children’s Fiction