Creative Writing 2: Finding the right genre

Take a current newspaper story and use it as the basis of an opening for a story. Try writing the first paragraph of this story in the following genre styles: as a thriller; a romance; a crime novel; a children’s story; a work of science fiction; a literary novel. Which genre came easiest?BBC Get Writing: Finding the Right Genre

Okay, here’s the story…

The Large Hadron Collider near Geneva will be out of action for at least two months, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) says. Part of the giant physics experiment was turned off for the weekend while engineers probed a magnet failure.

But a Cern spokesman said damage to the £3.6bn ($6.6bn) particle accelerator was worse than anticipated. The LHC is built to smash protons together at huge speeds, recreating conditions moments after the Big Bang.

BBC News: Hadron Collider Halted for Months

So we’re looking for thriller, romance, crime, sci fi, children’s story, and a literary novel. Although as I’m not entirely sure what makes a literary novel, I’m not so sure how I’ll do in that one.


The Large Hadron Collider had failed after a tonne of liquid helium had leaked into the tunnel. A tonne. You don’t get a tonne of stuff ‘just’ leaking. I just didn’t buy that it was a failure, a malfunction. It was sabotage, and I was going to prove it.

There were a number of ways I could approach this: I could look to see who had access to the LHC; I could look to see why anyone might want the LHC to fail — who would benefit? — or I could try and work out how they made it fail and then work backwards from there.

And I wasn’t going to let the fact that I was currently in police custody suspected of the murder of my next door neighbour get in the way…


“Do you know how much this experiment cost? Do you know how much this setback cost? The collider is going to be closed for at least two months!”

Second Technician Ian Featherston kept his head down, staring resolutely at his shoes. The director had been raging at the technical crew for five minutes. By now his face would be bright red, only Ian was looking down because the director had a tendency to fire off flecks of spittle as he was shouting, and he’d never liked the idea of being spat on.

Besides, he thought, If I don’t actually have to look at his face, I won’t give away the fact that I saw him in the tunnel on the security camera, only about five minutes before the helium leak…


Ed watched as Jen’s fingers danced over the console, desperately trying to shut down the helium dump. Even now, in the height of a crisis which was likely to shut down the LHC for a few months, he was impressed by her ability to remain calm, unflappable. She could be arrogant and insufferable at times too, but there was that inner calm that she seemed to carry with her at all times: you knew she would get whatever she wanted, and if you didn’t want to go along with what she wanted, it was easier to give in immediately, because she’d get her way in the end…

But it was over; professional disagreement had led to edgy resentment, and while they still had a grudging respect for one another, it would be better if the divorce came through sooner rather than later.

Children’s Story

The tour guide had stopped to talk to the rest of the class, but Andy, Marissa and Pam had edged forward slightly. They could see a red light flashing on the other side of the glass panel, and white-overalled staff were rushing around madly.

“Do you think it’s got something to do with Mr. Phelps?” whispered Marissa.

“I don’t know,” said Andy, “But it was strange him sneaking off like that…”

Science Fiction

“Ambassador Vrr’st, we’ve got a problem.”

“A problem?” The gruff stentorian tones of the Ambassador rolled around the bridge. “What is it — and why feel you need to trouble me with it?”

“Your Excellency, we’re forbidden by the Acliran Treaty from interfering in worlds which are not capable of interstellar travel.”


“And we also have to prevent the creation of black holes in this sector of the galaxy, so that trade isn’t disrupted.”


“Well, your Excellency, it seems that these people, while incapable of travel even to their sister planets, have developed a machine which could potentially create a planet-swallowing black hole. We’ve got to prevent them running it, only we’re not allowed to interfere. What do we do?”

For the very first time since he’d started working for Ambassador Vrr’st, Proctor Janus thought he looked concerned. His eye spots pulsed, and a slight flicker of colour across his pale skin were the only signs that he was not completely calm. But Janus had never before seen the Ambassador unable to supress an emotion completely before. Black with a trailing green stripe. What was that… fear?


Frank studied the pencil in his hands. It was a well used red HB, a little over three inches long, with pockmarks where he had held it in his teeth during frequent moments of anxiety. Those who knew him well could assess his mood from simply watching the HB: not for nothing was it known as the Frankometer.

When it was placed carefully in the desk tidy, Frank was placid. When on the desk beside his hands, a little nervous. When it was being held in one hand twirled around his knuckles, he was tense. When he was nibbling on it, something, somewhere was either liable to explode or had just exploded.

Frank placed the pencil between his lips.


Okay, so most of them were a more than a paragraph, but they were the amounts necessary I feel to give a taste. Although I have to admit to not knowing what makes ‘literary’ fiction, so apologies if that one is a pile of horse poo.

Which ones were easier?

Crime, Romance and Thriller were straightforward, although I suspect Romance would have become significantly less so if I’d actually had to do something with the relationship. Sci Fi felt strained — partly because the LHC is fairly ’sci’ anyway, so I felt I needed some aliens or something in to give it a sci-fi feel in a couple of paragraphs, and partly because I didn’t feel I had a hook there. I think if I’d taken the time to construct a world, it would have been easier, though.

I suspect the Children’s Story was crap mostly because I kept thinking “what the hell do kids like?”, and I enjoyed the literary one although I suspect that was only because I’d completely missed the point of what a literary one was. I also object to the idea that a novel can’t be considered literary if it’s genre fiction as being rather simplistic and snobby approach, by people who think that their fiction is somehow better than someone else’s.

They all felt a little forced to be honest; I felt like I was having to rush to show what genre it was, rather than just allowing it to develop at it’s own pace, and maybe the LHC wasn’t the best news story to try and base a series of opening paragraphs on, but that was kinda the point; I just wanted to pick a news story to play with, rather than one which I felt would more easily lend itself to the writing (e.g. some human interest story would have given me some characters to play with, at least!).

I noticed as well the exercise didn’t ask me to write horror; but I think I would have been fine with that also. I would expect that I would write some form of dark thriller/mystery thing with hopefully elements of humour.

One Response to “Creative Writing 2: Finding the right genre”

  1. The Goldfish responds:

    These did make me laugh (which I mean as a compliment?and I’d say you probably couldn’t have picked a better news story; it left room for your own characters.

Leave your comments

Enter Your Details:

You may use the following markup in your comments:

<a href=""></a> <strong></strong> <em></em> <blockquote></blockquote>

Enter Your Comments:

|Top | Content|

  • Worn With Pride

    • Titan Internet Hosting
    • SeaBeast Theme Demo
    • Technorati
    • Guild of Accessible Web Designers
    • my Facebook profile

Blog Meta

|Top | FarBar|

Attention: This is the end of the usable page!
The images below are preloaded standbys only.
This is helpful to those with slower Internet connections.