This way of classifying a story is perhaps one of the most important yet overlooked items. It’s easily confused with genre…probably because there are a few common genres which actually double as a genotype. Yet there is a distinct difference. Genre is best understood as the designation of the story’s setting, style, and audience. Essentially, it is how the story relates to the reader. (See the previous article in the series on Genre.) So root that firmly in your brain as we go forward.
Genotype is how the story relates to the characters in the book. The characters aren’t experiencing a genre of setting, style, and audience. They are experiencing life…their lives. Genotype helps us to understand what aspect of life that they are experiencing. This has a TREMENDOUS effect on how plot and characters are developed, because plot and character development are directly related to the experiences of the characters. Let’s look at a few examples.