I don’t want to make this an overly complicated or deep post. Mostly this is just set-up for this week’s discussion on “Hybrid Genres.” Below is an interesting and thought-provoking “map” of genre fiction and all of its attendant subgenres. You may be aware of more subgroups or disagree with the categorization but it does make you consider exactly what is it you are writing/reading.
Opening last month (July), this exhibit on Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910 at the American History Museum
(12th and Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC) explores the intersecting influences of science, innovation, industry, and the Victorian creative imagination through books from the Smithsonian Libraries and selected historical objects.
The industrial revolution and its attendant advances in science and art paved the way for a period of dramatic change in America and Europe. The public was enthralled by the rapid invention and scientific discoveries that characterized the age. Science became spectacle, and such literary luminaries as Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, and Edgar Allan Poe responded, crafting fiction that explored the farthest reaches of the new scientific landscape and the startling possibilities this new knowledge uncovered.
For those of you who cannot partake of this in person here in Washington, DC, they have a fascinating online exhibit broken into 7 separate areas:
- Terra Incognita – Adventure and Exploration: To the Far Reaches of the World
- The Age of Aeronaut – The Dawn of Flight
- Infinite Worlds – Exploring the Universe and Seeking Extraterrestrial Life
- The Body Electric – Inspiring Frankenstein
- Rise of the Machines – Technology Comes to Life
- Sea Change – Underwater Worlds: Fathoming the Deep
- Underworld – Fossils and Geology: What Lies Beneath?
Also, their blog has a great collection of posts relevant to “Fantastic Worlds,” history, science, technology, fiction, and adventure.
Award-winning horror novelist Peter Straub talks about writing tools and “tricks” of the trade. He talks about the process by which individuals can improve their own individual craft and how their life is actually “on the page.”
In a series of four videos over an hour, he talks about “5 Rules that Keep you from Looking like an Imbecile.” 🙂 It is a light fun talk. As an example, #1 is: Never begin two sentences in a row with the same word. Never begin two paragraphs in a row with the same word. #2 is Rhymes are not allowed. I think you see the trend. 😉
When someone says “epic fantasy” there is a general idea of what it will entail: woods and forests, elves and dwarves, adventurers and magicians and fighting and quests. All in a medieval-style setting. Possibly with dragons. 🙂 Tolkien is much to blame for this. But he isn’t alone. Book after book after book falls into these same cliche’d storylines. Often, it is the plot that we blame. We say it is poor storytelling. But beyond plot, another way that we promote fantasy tropes and cliches is in our very worldbuilding. Medieval setting? Elf land, dwarven mountains, major port city, a desert land occupied by nomads…all are things we have seen over and over. So perhaps, the best place to start when addressing cliches isn’t in the story, but the world itself.
Usually our Videos are from authors talking about their own writing tips and tricks. The writing has varied from science fiction and fantasy, to romance, to comics, but today, I thought it would be fantastic to hear from people whose interest is in writing related to games. This episode of Extra Credits does a wonderful job of exploring settings in horror. While their focus is on horror in gaming, the setting of tone and an understanding of our own fears is discussed and important information regardless of the medium in which you work.
Horror settings fall into two basic categories: places of disempowerment and places of isolation. Places of disempowerment – such as alien worlds and the bottom of the sea – force us into situations where we don’t understand the rules of our environment, and can never tell when our expectations will be suddenly reversed. Places of isolation, like remote cabins and arctic research stations, make sure we know that no one will help us: if we can’t find a way to survive, we will simply die. The inherent terror in these settings can be amplified by giving them a haunted past, such an ancient graveyard or an abandoned asylum, or by making the place itself possessed of malice and willpower that’s directed against those inside it. Finally, these settings can provide psychological landscapes that reflect someone’s inner struggles and fears directly back onto them.
We’ve all been there. That feeling that suddenly someone is going to come up and say, “I don’t know who let you in, or who said you could call yourself a creative, but you don’t belong. Get out.” And they say it loudly, so everyone in the crowded room that is made up of everyone you ever knew can clearly hear. And THEN you realize not only are you a crappy writer, but also that you’re naked. Or wait, is that a different dream?
So how do you fight Impostor Syndrome? Well, fortunately for us, Awesomely Luvvie has an answer. Complete with gifs!
I’ve included some of her bullet points for you tl;dr folks but seriously, the full post is totally awesome and worth every word. 🙂 Also, don’t forget to check out some of her other stuff!
Imposter Syndrome is liar, and too many of us have accepted it as truth. How do we fight it? How do we kick it out of our heads, or at least turn the volume down?
I remind myself that:
- I’m not the best. I don’t have to be. I am enough.
- I’ve worked my ass off. At the minimum, that hard work has earned me a ticket in.
- Knowing that there are subpar and mediocre ass people out there who still think they belong in the room that your EXCEPTIONAL ass thinks you don’t deserve to be in.
- Even if I happen to be in the room by accident, and by no doing of my own, I AM IN THAT ROOM. It is no longer an accident.