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28

Everything has been done before. Seriously. I've taken two Ancient Literature courses and it's amazing how many plots are basically recycled versions of older plots. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Harry Potter - their plots all model older books and plays from hundreds of years ago. Even parts of the Bible are found in manuscripts that predate ...


12

Westerns are essentially historical fiction, set in a very specific time and place. And there's a mythos associated with that time and place that may be out of step with modern life. Most successful modern westerns of which I'm aware have subverted the western tradition, making it grittier and more realistic. I'm thinking of movies, but also Cormac ...


11

Is what you're doing working for you? Like, are you achieving your goals following this method? If so, then I'd keep doing it. If not, I'd switch. I know that's a bit vague, but I think it might be pretty accurate. I agree that there's a risk of becoming derivative if you read in your own genre, but I also agree that you're missing out, not only on ...


10

I have written flash fiction as short as 50 words and seen submissions in the range described by OneMonkey. Flash fiction is largely defined by the word count, but doing flash fiction well is more than just getting the right word count. Imagine telling an entire compelling story in 200 words. That's an extreme compression of the rising action, climax, ...


9

Maybe you shouldn't be writing. Maybe you should be collaborating. Sketch the thing out and hire a partner, or a ghostwriter. Short stories. Fewer words, and less need to create a world. You only need to create as much as is necessary to make the story hold up. Tell stories out loud instead. Find a library which needs volunteers (a bit redundant, I know) ...


9

I think you're confusing motives and details. You mentioned people from 500 years ago being very different from us. What concerns do we share over the centuries? Survival basics: food, shelter, clothing. There really wasn't a "middle class" in 1513, but you could argue there was a merchant class, so a Genovese trader could be worried whether his next ...


8

As far as I can tell, what genre your work is published in is usually up to the publisher, as a tool for bookstores and other retailers to label and categorize your work. I've seen a lot of arguments about particular books being labeled in a specific genre and readers not really considering it to fit there. An example would be "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria ...


8

There are no new plots. You can't be original. You wouldn't want to be. True originality, if it existed, would be nearly unbearable. The thing is to take an old story that's been told a million times, and tell it again. But tell it so brilliantly that it seems like an entirely new story that no one has ever heard before. In your case, don't just make your ...


8

There is significant overlap in genres, and nowhere more so than speculative fiction. There are few hard and fast rules to identifying genre, and one man's Urban Fantasy is another man's Supernatural Horror. To a certain extent, you can choose the genre you want to claim for your story. What aspects of this story do you consider to be the most important? ...


8

Generally speaking, Steampunk concerns itself with Victorian characters, themes, and technology level, while taking the technology available and creating devices that, if not impossible, are impractical. The spider vehicle in the film Wild Wild West. For technology, Steampunk typically cannot use internal combustion engines, nor most forms of "regular" ...


8

I think reading is important (as I said before: maybe more important than writing (as in "write, write, write, whatever and whenever, even if it's crap")). Of course, your concerns are valid. Lets take them on one at a time: Genre Blindness As other answers here have said, I think you'd mostly gain the opposite from reading genre books: you see what ...


8

Science fiction has the advantage of being more loosely and broadly defined than the Western. Westerns are limited by definition to a narrow group of settings. But SF? As Nabokov said, "If we start sticking group labels, we'll have to put The Tempest in the SF category". Now, maybe "space opera" will go away after we've been in space for a while, sure, or ...


8

To me, the difference is not whether the story has a logical explanation, but whether it could have an explanation in this universe. Another way to say it: Fantasy may violate what we know to be true of the universe. Science fiction may not. A monster, an alien planet, or "magic" could be either fantastical or science fictional, depending on whether it ...


8

When I look at historic and literary sources from the past 3000 years, from the epics of Homer to the present day, I cannot find any fundamental differences between the people that have lived then and those that live today, at least none that are greater than intercultural, class or gender differences among the present populace. We are all driven by the same ...


8

Even multi-tools generally place significantly more emphasis on one or two of the tools; Swiss Army Knives concentrate on providing a decent pocket knife. Even so, people use them not because any of the tools are as good as a tool dedicated to a specific purpose but because they are convenient and good enough for limited uses. There is a reason for the ...


7

It depends on your attitude. Juan Luis Guerra, a famous musician from my country, I've heard state he listens to his genres so he is aware of what's being used too much, and avoid it.


7

As a basic boundary, Fantasy depends on what couldn't be. The amount of fantasy can be slight, or it can be grand, but that strangeness element must be there. More importantly, for a work to be recognised as fantasy, it will require someone of authority deciding that it is fantasy. Karen Joy Fowler is of sufficient status to be able to declare that her work ...


7

The problem is not the genre. Lots of people read lots of love stories. The problem is that (up until now) there's a mismatch between your stories and your readers. In trying to leap from reaching only a few to reaching everyone, you're setting yourself an impossible task. There is no genre that reaches everyone of all ages and genres. Heck, there is no ...


7

Which is the primary focus of your story: the villain, or the investigation? Is the investigation a tool to learn more about the villain, or is the cunning villain a means to complicate the investigation? Is the duel between the investigator and the criminal the focus, or is it just means to display the twisted mind of the criminal in all gory glory? Answer ...


6

Take a look at Joseph Cambell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and you will see that most myths and most religions are basically the same story told with small variations. The same applies for a lot of epic modern stories already mentioned here (LOTR, Star Wars, Harry Potter). Good stories a driven by characters, and if the reader gets involved in the ...


6

Here's the money quote from a good article on the subject: In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character and tends to be multilayered stories which wrestle with universal dilemmas rather than with plot. They usually provoke the readers beliefs and thoughts, often with an outcome of changing or altering their ...


6

One famous author who has done this is Nora Roberts (romance) / J. D. Robb (mystery). I can see that a reader who appreciates a great thriller might not be interested in picking up a book that they associate (rightly or wrongly) with the author of a bodice-ripper. In the case or Roberts/Robb, it probably makes a lot of sense. This article on pen names ...


6

Flash fiction is primarily determined by its word count. The max word count I've seen for flash fiction is 1000 words but could be as low as 300 words. For it to "count" as flash fiction it has to be a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end and not just an excerpt. There are other sub-categories of flash fiction though: Micro fiction - Anywhere ...


6

If you're worried about reader perception, use a pseudonym. But I don't think that one genre is easier than another, which seems to be the assumption behind your question. I think each writer needs to look at his or her own strengths and interests, and work within those. Someone whose preferences and style run to literary fiction will have serious trouble ...


5

Short answer: No. For better or for worse, writers that need fact checking generally do their own research (or ask a friend). This may have to do with the fact that writers don't like "outsiders" meddling in the creative process. But...people who have access to a unique cultural context or deep understanding in a specific area of knowledge often have ...


5

There's always the good old wikipedia definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_fiction My take on it that it is often used to mean "serious" fiction (whatever that is), as opposed to fiction that is merely "entertainment". It often seems to be thrown about in the context of snobbery (that is, someone may not "read that airport bookshop rubbish" ...


5

A friend of mine, Alma Alexander, writes fantasy pretty much exclusively. Her book The Secrets of Jin-Shei was, however, marketed as "mainstream" fiction. She considers it fantasy because: The setting is a fictionalized version of ancient China, much as the setting of much genre fantasy is a thinly disguised version of medieval England About halfway into ...


5

An excellent question. Since it's a plot or perspective technique which can be used in any kind of fictional story, I wouldn't call it a "genre." Science fiction, Western, soap opera, comedy, and procedural are genres (with sub-genres like "medical procedural" and "lawyer procedural"). Having more than one "true" narrative could happen in any of those types ...


5

To me, the science in science fiction is what differentiates the two. That is usually represented by devices of some sort. Nor does it necessarily need to be a silicon-based device, a carbon-based biological based device would equally foot the bill. But there is always some device that is what makes the special power of the world (be it a method of ...



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