Genre & Theme
3 min read

A short guide to writing society novels

A group of people in a lecture theater, their faces are smudged out.

Society novels provide a unique perspective on the lives, relationships, and dynamics of social classes and communities. Through insightful and often satirical narratives, these stories reveal the manners, customs, and values that shape people's lives. This article will explore the external content genre of society novels, offering guidance on when to choose this genre, discussing its conventions, and identifying obligatory scenes.

What is the society genre?

The society genre is a category of literature, film, or other art forms that focuses on the relationships, behaviours, and issues within a particular society or social group. It often explores themes such as social class, power dynamics, and cultural norms.

The society genre is one of the external content genres, which focuses on the external conflicts and events that drive the story. Understanding the external content genre helps you develop stories that meet reader expectations and deliver a satisfying experience.

When to choose the society genre

The society genre is an excellent choice for writers who are interested in exploring the intricacies of human relationships, social dynamics, and the impact of societal norms and expectations on individuals. If you have a keen eye for observing the complexities of social life and enjoy crafting rich, multi-layered stories that dissect and satirize societal conventions, the society genre may be the perfect fit for you.

Conventions of the society genre

The society genre is characterized by several key conventions:

  • Social setting: Society novels are set in a specific social context, often focusing on a particular class or community, and exploring its customs, values, and traditions.
  • Satire or social commentary: These stories often provide insight into the flaws, hypocrisies, and contradictions of society through satire, irony, or subtle commentary.
  • Complex interpersonal relationships: Society novels delve into the tangled web of relationships among the characters, exploring themes such as love, friendship, rivalry, and betrayal.
  • Focus on manners and etiquette: The society genre pays close attention to the customs, manners, and etiquette that govern social interactions, often highlighting the tension between public and private selves.
  • Moral dilemmas: Characters in society novels often face moral dilemmas or conflicts that arise from societal expectations, values, or norms.

Obligatory scenes of the society genre

There are certain scenes that readers expect to encounter in a society novel:

  • Introduction to the social setting: The story introduces the reader to the specific social context and its unique customs, values, and traditions.
  • Conflict between societal norms and individual desires: The protagonist faces a conflict or dilemma that arises from the tension between societal expectations and their personal desires or beliefs.
  • Social gathering or event: A significant social event, such as a ball, party, or dinner, serves as a backdrop for interpersonal dynamics and key plot developments.
  • Revelation of hidden truths: Secrets, scandals, or hidden relationships are revealed, often with dramatic consequences for the characters and their social standing.
  • Moral or ethical decision: The protagonist is forced to make a difficult decision that tests their values, integrity, or loyalty to the social order.
  • Resolution and consequences: The story concludes with the resolution of the central conflict and an exploration of the consequences of the characters' choices, often involving a shift in social dynamics or a commentary on societal values.

Tips for writing a compelling society story

To create a captivating society story, consider the following tips:

  • Conduct research on the social, cultural, and historical context of the era or setting to ensure your story is authentic and accurate.
  • Develop engaging characters with distinct personalities, motivations, and backstories that reflect their roles within the society and allow readers to connect with them.
  • Create a vivid and immersive setting that captures the nuances of the society, using rich descriptions and sensory details to bring the social environment to life.
  • Craft an engaging plot that explores the dynamics, conflicts, and relationships within the society, maintaining reader interest and building tension throughout the story.
  • Use authentic language and dialogue that reflects the social norms, values, and customs of the society while remaining accessible to modern readers.
  • Incorporate themes and issues relevant to the society, such as power dynamics, social hierarchies, class struggles, and cultural differences, to add depth and complexity to the story.
  • Balance character-driven and plot-driven elements, ensuring that both the individual journeys of the characters and the overarching societal issues are integral to the narrative.
  • Employ a variety of narrative techniques, such as multiple perspectives or an omniscient narrator, to provide a comprehensive and nuanced portrayal of the society and its inhabitants.

To write a society novel, you need to have a deep understanding of the genre's conventions and obligatory scenes. You should be able to observe the complexities and contradictions of social life. Your story should create a vivid and engaging social world with intricate interpersonal relationships. Additionally, it should include satirical or insightful commentary on societal norms to make it compelling and thought-provoking for your readers.

As you begin writing in the society genre, don't forget to be true to your voice. Take risks and embrace the rich tapestry of human relationships and social dynamics that make this genre so fascinating.



  1. Coyne, Shawn. 2015. The Story Grid. New York, NY: Black Irish Entertainment.