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  Module 6: What Deconstruction Isn't

Once you've chosen your niche genre, then what?

The next step is to deconstruct your targeted genre. That means studying best-selling novels to see how they're structured, but it also involves looking at writing style and mechanics—sentence, scene, and chapter lengths—as well as phrasing and word choice, among many other facets.

Each genre has variations within a particular style, and readers have certain expectations when it comes to buying a novel in a genre. So it's crucial to understand what "style guidelines" and kinds of structural framework apply to your targeted genre.

Isn't this plagiarism?

It's important to understand what plagiarism is and what it means to copy other authors' style or structure. In other words, in this lesson, we're going to look at what deconstruction isn't and why it's absolutely the best thing a novelist can do to nail genre!

8 comments
David Tishendorf
In a way, it’s like taking one of those plot outlines you can buy, change the names and places, and basically follow the outline, but put your own stamp on it. It’s much better, of course, to study a bestseller rather than a plot outline, but the process is rather similar, I would think. Plagiarism to me is word for word literary theft. Deconstruction is nothing like that.
Susanne Lakin
What are your thoughts on copying or emulating other authors' novels?
Lynda Washington
I'm fine with it. In fact, I see no way around it. My aim is to earn some money without having to return to copywriting or tech writing. Anything that keeps me from ever having to write another medical supplies catalog or sales brochure for auto-dialers or users manuals for computer gizmos is okay with me. Maybe not fun or personally rewarding, but acceptable.
Lynda Washington
I found a couple of niches with green lights. I hope that reading in these niche subgenres will help me gin up some enthusiasm for them.

My solution is going to have to be that I will write the stories I love, but only for my own enjoyments, but spend the bulk of my time writing for money. Money is my big motivator, but I had hoped not to feel so disappointed about it all.
Robert Doucette
I agree wholeheartedly with Ms Lakin's position. Let’s face it, how many ways are there to write about vampires, zombies, or dystopian futures (especially YA dystopian futures)?

Tightly structured genres (romances, thrillers and mysteries) can be compared to sonnets and limericks. Just as these poetic types REQUIRE specific rhythm structure and rhyming patterns, genre readers expect certain conventions. Romances have "Happily Ever After" endings. Cozy mysteries have no graphic violence or sex. And many more rules. Authors who say learning and following these rules is plagiarism need to explain how they learned their craft without reading/studying their genre.
Lyle Nicholson
I have no problem with reading and writing in a similar style to other authors. We all copy, emulate, then morph into our own style over time.

My influences were Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I even used one of Vonnegut's science fiction ideas in my first book, Polar Bear Dawn, and gave him the credit for it.

If someone ever emulated me, I'd be elated.
Roy Gomez
I would be honored, as you point out, if my work would be compared to any of my favorite authors. Having said that, I see everything that I'm doing as an exciting pursuit to help release my own personal, unique, no-body-in-the-world self.
Debbie L. Moore
I'm fine with emulation, as long as I can still hold onto some form of originality. I prefer not to use the word "copy", so I won't. ;)