11.16: Adventure as a Subgenre

Let’s be adventurous. Let’s move beyond simply being cooks, and strive to become chefs. In this episode we explore using the element of adventure as an ingredient in something that has far more than adventure going on in it. Why do we like adventure? What draws the reader forward?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 


Take your favorite piece of media that is NOT primarily an adventure, and look for the places where elemental adventure is used. Make note of where and why, and consider what the story would have been like without that element present.

The Shootout Solution: Genrenauts Episode 1, by Michael R. Underwood, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

7 thoughts on “11.16: Adventure as a Subgenre”

  1. I think that there is also an element of risk assumption in adventure. In Brandon’s example of epic fantasy, for instance, the “Hey look at this cool place. Let’s go fight some orcs!” is accompanied by assuming the risks that the orcs will kill you and slurp your intestines like noodles. Likewise, most sports stories, feel like adventure stories, with the obligatory stand up and cheer moment, because they are assuming all the risks of a competition. Mighty Ducks assume the risk of being crushed by the opposition despite their lack of skill, we stand and cheer when they are victorious. So I think spotting adventure is, in part, an exercise in finding the proactive assumption of risk in a character. Lucy jumps on the tracks to save the guy of her dreams, assuming the risk of getting hit, and behold, you have the inciting incident of “While You Were Sleeping.” So to quote a cartoon, (bonus points if you know the reference) “Adventure is out there!” And I think we find elements of it more often than we realize.
    P.S. Thank you for podcasts so engaging that I occasionally find myself trying to interrupt you all, as though you were in the room talking to me. *waves crazy flag*

  2. Another great idea for a cast, folks. I really think that adventure/action is the stuff that carries us through the story oftentimes. If it’s not the active adventure, it’s the potentiality of that adventure that can keep us turning the pages.
    Mary mentioned the swashbuckling aspect which really draws us in; it’s a favorite of a pirate or dark-ages story. This is one of the manifold elements of action which keep us (the reader) engaged and make us want to know what will happen in the rest of the story. I’m glad the idea of the heist was brought up – it is one of the more thrilling versions of the adventure. Thanks for the cast.

  3. Man oh man, you guys make me feel like I should be taking notes while I’m watching TV episodes or movies because you always cite examples when describing the writing tools you talk about. Also they are backhanded suggestions for movies/TV shows for me and wife to watch. Thanks for everything guys and girl.

  4. I love these elemental genre episodes. The only problem is I want to know them all of the elements right now! Love, love, love this season.

  5. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, and Casey is up to bat! Will he strike out? Will he hit a homer?

    Sports, chases, fights, all kinds of adventures add a touch of spice to stories. And now the ferocious foursome invite you to put on your chef’s hat and apron, and mix in a little adventure to your tales to keep the readers turning pages and standing up and cheering! Read all about it in the transcript, now in the archive or available over here


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