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Thread: What exactly is the 'family saga' genre?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW rwam's Avatar
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    What exactly is the 'family saga' genre?

    I often see 'family saga' listed as a genre (usually as a sub-genre within commercial fiction) and am wondering....what are the typical key elements within a novel that just scream 'family saga'?

    Rob

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    practical experience, FTW aghast's Avatar
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    think godfather

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    On a wing and a prayer aruna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aghast
    think godfather
    Well, technically, yes, though that's not what I first think of when I think family saga!

    "Family Saga" implies several generations of one family, all interacting. The story might start in the 1930's and end up with the great-grandchildren of that family in modern times. A great example is The Forsyte Saga.
    They are usually big, fat, luscious books, with a big family mansion in the centre of the action, and a gorgeous landscape. Susan Howatch wrote several family sagas set in Cornwall, Wales, Ireland.
    Usually they are not as bloody as the Godfather. Mostly gentle, sometimes melodramatic action though there may be a murder and several deaths - but that is not the centre of the story. One or several love stories take place in a family saga, but again, that is not the main focus. The focus is the family as a unit, and usually the place/
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    practical experience, FTW rwam's Avatar
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    Thanks, Aruna. What about something that's based solely in the present, but deals a lot with a man unraveling family history & deals with a family legacy? Would that be something I can call a family saga?

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    On a wing and a prayer aruna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwam
    Thanks, Aruna. What about something that's based solely in the present, but deals a lot with a man unraveling family history & deals with a family legacy? Would that be something I can call a family saga?
    A family saga is usually long. If he is unravelling the family history you'll have to go back in time - and dramatise that history, ie bring in other characters etc.
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    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwam
    Thanks, Aruna. What about something that's based solely in the present, but deals a lot with a man unraveling family history & deals with a family legacy? Would that be something I can call a family saga?
    Good question. My impression is that family sagas usually involve multiple generations of the same family--so I would (cautiously) guess not.

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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Family saga may have many generations or most of one life in the context of the family past and/or future family. It is typically set in a tumultuous period in history and the individual story interacts with the historical events. So Little House on the Prairie, but also Flags of Our Fathers.

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    practical experience, FTW rwam's Avatar
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    Thanks, Gang....I think that's enough to tell me mine is probably not a 'family saga'.

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