Amongst my incoherent stumblings throughout the world wide web, I discovered that the simplest yet most appropriate explanation for a genre appeared on none other than the board of studies homepage. â€œFor readers, genres are sets of conventions and expectations.â€ Like I said - simple enough. It continued. â€œThe conventions of a particular genre are the implied rules which writers follow, and which readers come to expect.â€ When we rearrange this definition a genre is simply a set of implied, generalised rules. In a cynical manner, this definition tends to appear truthful. After all, what is a Tom Cruise action flick without a car chase and several too many gun fights? Whatâ€™s a Patricia Cornwell novel without at least seventy-two intertwining suspects? But these conventions did not appear overnight. Through popularity alone all genres have had conventions established previously by pioneers in the field of writing.
Although Edgar Allan Poe was the apparent founder of crime fiction, it goes without saying that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the establisher of the conventions and expectations that became the crime fiction genre. The characters that he created became incredibly popular - not only throughout the era that he wrote, but also for many years to come. In fact, most young people today recognise the name Sherlock Holmes from cartoon series and movies that they have seen, while honestly believing that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was one of the knights of the round table. By disecting a short story written by Doyle in "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" Series, the conventions that have evolved to shape all crime fiction stories can be seen. The story I speak of is "The Adventure of the Missing Three Quarter", written in 1905.
The most important convention of a crime fiction novel is undoubtedly the occurrance of a crime and the investigative process that follows. Any crime will do, but most often a major crime