YouTube Notes: Different Fiction Formulas

In case you didn’t know, I have a YouTube channel. I am still trying to learn how to make videos and what kind of content I want to dive deep into, but currently, I am doing writing tips.

A part of this is because I love talking about writing and I feel I may have something to add on to all the other numerous YouTube authors out there. Another reason is that the other stuff I want to talk about will take some time.

That said, I wanted to be able to share my notes and outlines for the videos on here for viewers as well as for anyone who would like to have them but not watch the videos. Because that happens. I am very late in sharing my notes in my most recent video. For that, I am sorry. But, here they are!



  • “Shaking Up Formulas” Recap:
    • In my “Shaking Up Formulas” video, I defined what a fiction formula is and how you can shake it up to make your story stronger and uniquely yours. This video is on the specific formulas and how they are broken down. If anyone is interested in a more in-depth video addressing a specific formula, not just the generalizations, I will be happy to do that later on. Just comment below.
  • Different Genres Have Different Formulas
    • Each genre has its own formula. If you read the same genre and only that genre, you will begin to notice the trends, tropes, and eventually the genre’s formula. I tend to binge read a genre which then impacts my writing. My horror can end up looking like a YA fantasy or romance and then I’m either blocked or stuck rewriting everything. So, be careful if you binge read genres. Having a reading palette cleanser on hand helps.
  • Hero’s Journey
    • Quite possibly the oldest formula. It’s seen in folklore, film, television, plays, and novels. Most seen in fantasy novels, but it is possible to apply this formula to almost every written work.
    • It’s easily the number one formula taught and can be described in a video all on its own.
    • In its most basic formula, you have:
      • The hero or “chosen one” being thrust or deciding to join a quest.
      • The mentor dies
      • The hero goes into the underworld to undergo a self-discovery and more strength (sometimes a new mentor is given in this point)
      • The hero fights the big bad and everything is resolved.
    • Examples of a Hero’s Journey are:
      • Beowulf
      • Odyssey
      • Star Wars
      • Harry Potter
    • Romance
      • Quite possibly the most ridiculed formula. It is simple but effective. There is a reason why romance is one of the highest-grossing fiction out there and it isn’t just because of female readers.
      • Its formula is this:
        • Character A
        • Character B
        • Some kind of internal struggle and sometimes an outside force preventing a relationship.
        • Love is made
      • Examples of a Romance formula:
        • Jane Austen
        • Nora Roberts
        • Basically all romance authors
      • Urban Fantasy
        • Urban Fantasy is an umbrella genre with little pockets of other genres mixed in. You can find paranormal romance in this genre as well. For this video, I am addressing the more popular version of Urban Fantasy, the one with a mystery and protagonist solving the crime.
        • Its formula involves:
          • Basically, you can have your base formula and add fantasy elements.
          • Be sure to weave them in though!
        • Examples of Urban Fantasy:
          • Dresden Files
          • P. Sloan
          • Melissa Olson
          • Seanan McGuire
          • A ton of Urban Fantasy Indie authors
        • Mystery/Cozy Mystery
          • Mystery is another umbrella genre. In its most basic, you have a regular mystery, but there are of course the Urban Fantasy Mystery and a very common mystery genre, the Cozy Mystery.
          • Mystery’s most basic formula is this:
            • Victim
            • Crime
            • Perpetrator
            • Detective/PI/Agent/etc.- a professional crime solver
          • Cozy Mystery is a bit different. Where the main character and the motivation for solving the crime can be different. Here is its formula:
            • Victim
            • Crime
            • Perpetrator
            • Amateur Sleuth- oftentimes a baker, candy maker, librarian, bookstore owner, read a book once where it was a gamer
          • Examples of Mysteries:
            • James Patterson (author)
            • David Baldacci (author)
            • Sherlock Holmes
            • Wilkie Collins (author)
          • Examples of Cozy Mysteries:
            • The Cat Who books
            • Joanne Fluke
            • Krista Davis
          • Closing Statement:
            • You might have noticed how the last few formulas I addressed were of a similar vein with minor differences, this is because formulas can be mashed together and changed. Think of it like genetics. You have half of your mother’s DNA and half of your father’s, they, in turn, have half of each of their parents. A Fiction Formula is like the genome of your story. You can pull different genetic material from one genre to make a whole new and exciting story that is uniquely your own. This, and with what I touched on in “Shaking Formulas Up”, is what makes a story a good story.


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