The War Genre

Book cover for The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, #amwriting, #amediting, book review, how to write, how to edit The War Genre tends to be pretty straightforward. There’s a war, people fight in it. Pro-War Stories focus on Good VS. Evil, like Wonder Woman. There might be a nod toward the fact that fighting is bad, but at the end of the day, one side is fighting for the betterment of mankind, the other is evil. The war was necessary, in other words. It was right.

Anti-War stories like Once Upon a Forest focus on the shades of gray and how both side are good and evil and war sucks for all involved.

Neither of these are wrong or right, just different approaches to the same type of event.

The core emotion in a war story is either excitement, fear, or intrigue. The core event is a big battle.

Shawn Coyne identified a subplot within war stories called the brotherhood variation. It has a core value of honor vs. disgrace, and the subplot focuses on friendships and relationships among those affected by the war. Love stories are another oft-used subplot within war stories. These two technically follow the same beats, it’s just what the focus is centered on that makes the difference.

War Stories have definitely been used in YA books as sub-genres, particularly in dystopian stories. Even I dabbled in this sub-plot in my novel, Venus Rising.

What are your favorite war stories?

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Mythology Monday: Gods of Love, Marriage, and War Associated with Aphrodite

Aphrodite, the goddess of love, as imagined in the young adult, greek mythology retelling, The Daughters of Zeus series by Kaitlin Bevis. Red hair, aquamarine eyes, and creamy skin

It’s no secret that Aphrodite got around. Mostly with Ares, but there were other gods thrown in there. She had a lot of children and was associated with a lot of gods. And while most of major gods associated with her have their own Mythology Mondays, there were a few odds and ends of note that I thought would fit nicely in a combined blog post.

The Erotes were winged gods of love. The gods of marriage were often counted among them. A flock of these accompanied Aphrodite. The three primary erodes were….

Himeros– The god of sexual desire. He is either a son of Aphrodite or one of the two dogs (along with Eros) who greeted her when she was born from sea foam. He’s often paired with Anteros, the god of reciprocal love.

Pothos– The god of sexual yearning. He’s sometimes considered the son of Iris and Zephyros (the west wind), or he’s a son of Eros.

and Eros.

Anteros, The God of Reciprocal Love, was also sometimes considered an Erotes. and the avenger of the unrequited (I love that title). He’s a son of Ares and Aphrodite or Poseidon and a Neriad.

Gods of Marriage were Gods associated with different aspects of Marriage in Greek Mythology. You’d think these would mostly associate with Hera, but for the most part they were strongly linked with Aphrodite.

 Harmonia

Hebe (Juventas)-The goddess of youth and cupbearer to the gods until Ganymedes came along. She was given to Hercules as a wife after he ascended to Olympus. She’s the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She helped her mom enter her chariot, attended to Aphrodite, and was the patron goddess of young brides. In some depictions, she has wings. She can also grant eternal youth.

Hymenaios– The god of the weddings and the marriage hymn. Hymenaios was s son of Apollo and one of the Muses or, depending on the myth, Aphrodite and Dionysus. In other versions of the myth, he was a pretty mortal boy that Apollo saw and decided to turn into a god/plaything. In far later stories, he was a mortal boy who fell in love with a girl far above his station, so he disguised himself  as a woman and followed the woman he loved to a women’s only religious ceremony. But en-route, the women were captured by pirates. Hymenaios helped the women plot their escape, and after they were all safe and sound, he was allowed to marry his beloved. Their marriage was so happy, the people of Athens held festivals to honor them and the couple later became associated with marriage.

Peitho (Suadela)– The goddess of persuasion, seduction, and charming speech. She was a handmaiden of Aphrodite and is one of the goddesses of marriage. Often she’s viewed as a facet of Aphrodite. It’s possible she was an Oceanid or a daughter of Aphrodite, and she is often numbered as one of the Charities. Some sources say she was the wife of Hermes, others say she was the wife of  the hero king Phoroneus, and the mother of  the heroes Aegialeus and Apia.

Odds and Ends: 

Phobos and Deimos- More spirits or personifications than gods, Phobos and Deimos were the twin sons of Ares and Aphrodite. They personified terror and dread (Deimos) and panic and flight (Phobos). Mar’s moons are named after them, as are Sailor Mars’s ravens. They were most notably worshiped in Sparta.

Dione– Dione is the mother of the second Aphrodite in Greek mythology (though it’s interesting to note that her name is just a feminine form of Zeus). She was a Titan Goddess of prophecy, and the oracle of Dodona in Thesprotia. Her sisters were also oracles. Phoibe was the oracle of Delphi, Mnemosyne the oracle of Lebadeia, Themis was another oracle of Delphi and Dodona. Some sources identified her as an ancient wife of Zeus (as was Themis, go figure).

FAQ: Melissa

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

Not exactly a question, but I get a lot of readers emailing me to say they loved Melissa in book one

And hated her in book two.

And I just wanted a moment to address that.

I completely understand the feeling. Melissa’s making demands and being super inconsiderate to what Persephone’s going through in book two. Persephone is super annoyed with her, so the reader should feel that way as well. Technically all this Melissa hatred means is that I’ve done my job.

But it still makes me a bit sad because Melissa’s one of my favorite characters. She’s not very considerate to Persephone in book two because she has no idea what’s going on in Persephone’s life. She cut herself out of the equation, so that’s on her. But if my former best friend called me at 3 in the morning during finals week and only gave me vague responses as to why, I would not be sunshine and rainbows either. The fact that she showed up at all means she’s a better person than I’d probably be.

I’m a horrible person when I’m sleepy. No. Really. A horrible person.

As for cutting herself out of the equation, Aphrodite was doing a lot behind the scenes to prey on Melissa’s self-esteem issues. Add that to…

The Joel drama (which you can read all about in That Moment When)

The fact that she literally died at the end of Persephone

and everyone but Persephone, including her own mother, was willing to let that happen

The mind trip it must be to be born and bred with a purpose you have no say on

Being magically forced to keep a secret from your best friend for years

Eagerly waiting for the day she finds out what she is only for her to get all distant and has problems that you can’t possibly begin to understand despite the fact that understanding and being there for her was the only purpose in life you were ever supposed to have…

Oh yeah, and she’s human and normal and surrounded by the supernatural constantly. Her best friend could be best described as an unearthly beauty. And she has super powers.

And she complains about them.

A lot.

I’m a reader. I’ve spent my entire life burying my nose in stories where the fantastic is possible. I cannot imagine anything worse than knowing it’s all out there, it’s all real, but not for me. I can’t imagine being surrounded by those magical one-percenters, the chosen protagonists, and not getting jealous. Much less being expected to listen to them whine about problems I’d kill to have and then be completely expected to die for them.

Melissa has a ton to process. And she does so in a flawed way. And I wish I could write more from her point of view to fully convey that, because from a writing standpoint, she’s a super interesting character to place in a scene. She brings an entirely different dynamic to every line she’s in.

But what is fun for the writer is not always fun for the reader. The reader is invested in Persephone’s POV, so what she feels, hurt, annoyed, betrayed, the reader feels. And that’s a good thing.

The Love Genre

Romance Arc, Kate Carlisle, #amwriting

Also known as romance, the love genre has a core value of love vs. hate, and the core event in the love genre is proof of love for one character to another. I go over the romance plot structure in quite a bit more detail here, but in The Story Grid Shawn Coyne does introduce a few subplots within romance.

Courtship: Two people meet and either commit to one another or not. In addition to love vs. hate there tends to be some focus on independence/dependence, communication and misunderstanding, morality/immorality, togetherness/loneliness, and the fan favorite, societal approval/disapproval.

Marriage: Not simply a matter of ending with wedding bells, these stories go deeper into already committed relationships. These stories tend to deal in fidelity vs infidelity, truth and lies, betrayal, and valuing of the self over the family. Friday Night Lights does a great marriage subplot.

Obsession: Obsession stories tend to stray into horror. They go beyond courtship and tend to focus on desire, fear, and survival.

Further subgenera include ….

Erotica, which I’ve heard best described as a matter of lighting (i.e some romances fade to black, spicier romances may describe feelings and such but the “camera” (reader perspective) is mostly pointed at the face, and erotica is fully lit descriptions.

Gothic Romances, which also tend to delve into horror. Riverdale played with this subplot a good bit.

Regency, suspense, western, crime, thriller, horror, you name it.

Romance is a stand alone genre and it can pull any major genre in as a sub genre (like J.D Robb’s In Death series), but it is also the go-to sub plot. It’s difficult, incredibly difficult, to find a story that doesn’t feature a romance in some way, shape, or form.

 

 

Mythology Monday: Iris

woman-645771_1920

Iris was a virgin goddess of the sea and sky and the daughter of a marine god named Thaumus and a cloud nymph named Elektra. She was the goddess of the rainbow, a messenger for Olympus (as opposed to her twin sister, Arke who was messenger for the Titans), and a handmaid of Hera. She was believed to replenish the rainclouds with water from the sea. She was beautiful, golden winged, and often indistinguishable from Hebe in artwork. In mythology her role is often taken over by Hermes.

She’s also a minor goddess of justice and makes frequent visits to the Underworld carrying water from the Styx to pour in the eyes of everyone who commits perjury, or collecting items for Hera. She played a role after the events of the Trojan War by disguising herself as a wife of Troy and encouraging the other wives and mothers to set fire to Aeneas’ ships in order to prevent them from leaving Sicily.

According to Ovid, Iris also has the ability to transform mortals into gods with a single touch. She also assisted with Leto’s delivery of Artemis and Apollo by bribing Eiletheyia for her help in giving birth to her children, without allowing Hera to find out. She also helped the Argonauts Zetes and Calais face off against the harpies to protect the prophet Phineus. She convinced the two Argonauts not to kill the harpies in exchange for her promise that the Harpies would not hurt Phineus any longer.

But Iris wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. She also assisted Hera in cursing Hercules with the madness that caused him to kill his wife and children.

FAQ Friday: Why doesn’t Persephone ever listen to Hades?

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

There are multiple points in Daughter of the Earth and Sky where Hades gives Persephone a very specific set of instructions.

That she promptly ignores.

Sometimes she ignored him because she’s charmed (see last Friday’s post). Others because Persephone is impulsive. It’s her character flaw. She’s impulsive, naive, and she thinks she knows best. A chunk of the time she’s right, but not always. It’s not a new character development. This is the girl who ran away from home in book one then ran away from The Underworld to face Boreas. She’s never, regardless of the stakes, sat quietly and listened as other people make decisions. Not once in six books. It’s frustrating. But she also has a way of getting things done.

We all know people like her in real life.

But by the same token, Hades is wrong just as often as she is. There seems to be this impression that if she’d only listened to him x or y would have happened, but that’s not necessarily the case. There is no other way the conversation with Poseidon would have gone, regardless of who was speaking. Poseidon had days to plan exactly what he was going to say and how he was going to say it. Hades didn’t have all the information about Joel or about Zeus or about Aphrodite, so her listening to him in those cases would have led down a different path. But not necessarily a better one.

She is growing as  character, and being less impulsive is one of the places where she’s going to grow. But she and Hades are also growing in terms of having a healthy, functioning relationship where they listen to each other instead of both just doing their own thing because they’re convinced it’s for the best. In other words, it’s not just her flaw.

Thriller Subgenres

Book cover for The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, #amwriting, #amediting, book review, how to write, how to edit

According to The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, here are a few of the classic thriller sub genres.

Serial killer- a killer is running amok and the hero must find them before they kill the next victim. Think Silence of the Lambs

Legal- A lawyer/judge is the hero/victim. Think John Grisham novels

Medical- A doctor, nurse, or researcher is the hero, Richard Preston does excellent medical thrillers like The Cobra Event.

Military – A soldier plays the hero. Military thrillers are a huge genre.

Political- A politician plays the hero. The Manchurian Candidate is a good example of this.

Journalism- A reporter plays the hero. I Love Trouble has shades of thriller in it

Psychological- This one speaks for itself. Who doesn’t love a good psychological thriller? My friend Dallas wrote an excellent one that I really hope hits the bookshelves soon.

Financial- It’s a thriller set in the financial world. I have no examples because there is, to my mind, nothing thrilling about finances. I read to escape them in fact.

Espionage- A spy is the center of the thriller, much like the crime version of this genre, but with more information given to the reader and less to the protagonist. The Bourne Identity fits into this genre.

Women/child in jeopardy- I guess Man on Fire would fit here, but I consider this more a stake than a sub-genre as the protagonist typically fits into one of the boxes listed above.

 

Mythology Monday: Harmonia

necklace, The Necklace of Harmonia, Greek mythology, love and war

Harmonia (Concordia) was (in most myths) the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite (Love and War) and the goddess of harmony. She’s also considered a goddess of war and marriage. Some versions of the myths list her as a daughter of Zeus and Electra. She was married to Cadmus, the founder of Thebes. All the gods were invited to their wedding, and a bitter Hephaestus (or Europa, or Hera, or Aphrodite), still angry about his wife’s affair, gave her a cursed necklace as a gift. The Necklace of Harmonia brought horrible luck to any who possessed it.

Harmonia’s husband was turned into a snake, and Harmonia was so distraught, that the gods turned her into a snake so the two could be together again. Polynices, son of Oedipus (yes, that one) and Jocasta, inherited the necklace (sometimes it comes with a robe) and gave it to his friend Eriphyle to persuade her husband to rise up against Thebes. This kicked off all the events in the play Seven Against Thebes, which I really do need to cover in another mythology Monday. But hint, hint, everyone dies. The necklace passes from their son to several other less notable mythological figures, causing unspecified trouble along the way, until finally  Amphoterus and Acarnan dedicated the cursed necklace to the temple of Athena. But then a guy named Phallyus stole the necklace to give to his wife, unfortunately, their son went nuts and  burned the house, his family, and their treasures that night, and the necklace has been lost ever since.

FAQ Friday: Joel

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

So this is a spoilerific post. If you haven’t read Daughter of Earth and Sky, continue at your own risk.

I’ve seen several emails from readers praising all things Hades and wondering why she was ever remotely tempted by Joel. The answer to this is actually fairly messed up.

Charm.

Well applied charm works by rationalizing the foreign thoughts and impulses into something the victim wants to do. Several times during Daughter of Earth and Sky Persephone had thought patterns like this.

“I could do my run at three instead,” he suggested. “We could run together.”

“Do you have time for that? With college about to start and everything?” I didn’t want to sound too reluctant, but I really enjoyed the solitude my runs provided.

“For you, I’ll make time.” He gave me an easy grin. “Just not right now. I should head out. Do you need help getting to your car? Or can you drive? I could take you home . . . ”

I laughed at his hesitation. I lived a bit outside of town, and gas wasn’t cheap. “I’m fine. I’m meeting someone later, so I should stick around.”

“Great.” He sounded relieved. He met my eyes. “Are we on for tomorrow?”

“Sure!” I needed to practice being human before school started, and Joel was about as normal as a human could get.

And just like that she’s running with Joel daily. Here’s another example.

 

“Sorry, Joel.” I brushed the grass off my legs. “I should probably be going.”

He caught my eye. “Aw come on, how long does it take to drink a smoothie?”

I found myself smiling. “Fine.”

And here’s another example.

I felt a pang of guilt flash through me when I saw Joel waiting for me at the bridge. Melissa was right. I was leading him on. I wasn’t sure how it had happened. We’d progressed from our daily jog, to a daily jog and smoothie. Then to a daily jog, smoothie, and occasional dinner. Now it was a daily jog, smoothie, occasional dinner, and occasional movie. We weren’t going out, and I had no interest in dating anyone other than Hades, but every time Joel suggested something and looked at me with those big blue eyes, I found myself agreeing. It was just so easy to be normal around him. For those short bits of time, I could forget about Hades and Thanatos and the Underworld.

“I gotta say, I liked your other outfit better.” Joel motioned to my Disney princess running shirt and pink shorts.

I laughed nervously. I hadn’t switched into different running clothes because Hades had made that comment, but because the way Joel looked at me sometimes made me want to wear a shapeless sweat suit. But this was Georgia. Sweating to death was a distinct possibility.

Joel grinned at me, and I forgot all about that. He was too nice to lead on. I needed to end this.

“You ready?” Joel asked, eyes searching mine.

“Yup!” We could talk after the run.

I ran faster than I ever had, beating Joel and my goal. I collapsed on the grass when I finished my third mile, grinning like an idiot.

“You’re in a good mood,” he noted.

I pushed myself up on my hands. “Hanging out with Aphrodite, running with you, it’s weird, but . . . ” I struggled to explain it. “I feel like I get to be me again, for just a few minutes. It’s really nice.”

“Who else have you been?” He sat beside me, eyes lingering appreciatively on my legs. He caught my reproachful look and gave me an impish smile. “You can tell me anything you know. I won’t tell anyone.”

And suddenly I wanted to tell him. Not everything, but Joel was so easy to talk to, I bet he’d understand what I was going through better than most of the gods.

And one more…

He met my eyes, leaned closer, and I knew he was going to kiss me. I thought of stopping him. I shouldn’t have led him on this long. But . . .

I let him kiss me, releasing him from the charm that would compel him to forget this conversation. His lips on mine were warm and eager. Completely different from a kiss from Hades. Hades was always fighting a battle with himself, trying to hold back. Joel had no such reservations.

My stomach turned at the thought of Hades, and I pushed Joel away. This was wrong. I didn’t want to do this. Why was I doing this? I knew it was just kissing, but I didn’t want to kiss anyone else. I just wanted Hades.

“What’s wrong?” Joel’s bright blue eyes searched my face.

I stared at him wondering that myself. What was wrong? Joel was a perfectly nice guy, and I liked him before. 

See. Aside from a passing mention in the first book, Persephone didn’t willingly give Joel the time of day a single time during the entire book. He spent the entire book slowly forcing her trust, forcing a relationship, and working with Thanatos and Aphrodite to isolate her from everyone else she could turn to. It’s pretty messed up.

 

The thriller genre

8bc792d8-2e75-41bb-8a92-fc3f2c745a67The thriller genre is a mashup of horror, action, and crime. Writing Excuses described the difference between a mystery and a thriller as whether or not the reader knows who the bad guy is and what they’re up to. In a mystery the driving force to turn the page is curiosity. In a thriller, it’s dread. You know what’s coming, the protagonist doesn’t. Like horror, thrillers often go beyond life and death to fates worse than. But a thriller also tends to be a bit more grounded than horror. The villains a bit less like Voldemort and more like Umbridge. He’s out of this world horrifying, she’s the evil you know. Thrillers tend to be more character driven than an action novel because when the stakes are personal (i.e not a bus full of screaming children) and worse than death, you have to care whether the protagonist lives or dies.

The protagonist of a thriller tends to be the heroic type who would throw themselves down in front of that bus of screaming children to slow it down as opposed to the everyman protagonist of most horror novels. The protagonist also tends to be deeply sympathetic, often because they are a victim of some kind.

There’s as many different flavors of thriller as crime, action, or horror. It’s the tone, the stakes, the characterization, and the reader’s knowledge that differ. You can plug in all the windows dressing of a espionage adventure and make it into a thriller. But next week, I’ll discuss a few of the old standbys.