I know, but you try to figure out a clever title for genre.
class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form,
content, technique, or the like (dictionary.com).
Hmm. I tell ya, I love these
definitions. I wish someone would list where the definitions to the
definitions are. It’s understandable, but, yikes, is it stuffy, or
I had no idea what the word
meant way back when I started writing. (When someone named William was
conquering something somewhere . . .) Reminds me of my favorite TV
show, I Love Kelly. Oops, I mean, Lucy.
In one episode, Lucy decides she wants to be a sculptor and goes to the
art store. The clerk asks her what medium she works in. She says, “An
old smock.” You get the drift. If someone had asked me what genre I
wrote in, I woulda said, “A Compaq.”
I think we all get what genre
means, so I thought I’d give a few definitions of sub-genres—for the
sake of actually adding some relevant content to the magazine. (I know,
you only read my column for the jokes.)
Historical Romance vs.
Historical Romance: Man with
sword meets Headstrong Chick who’d burn her bra had they been invented.
By the end of the story, Man tosses said uninvented bra, and Chick is
head over heels—if stilettos had been invented by then.
Okay, so the dude doesn’t haveta
wield a weapon. I wrote in the fourteenth century (not literally), so
that’s what I see as Historical Romance. But Historical Romance covers
from the dawn of man until WWII. It’s a past time period. And, being a
romance, the story must have a happy ending. (This frustrates me,
because referring to my marriages, divorce was the
happy ending. Especially the second one, I think.)
Historical Fiction: We’re still
in a past time period, but within the fiction must be some facts: real
events, real people, accurate details. Check your sources, then check
Pick someone like Joan of Arc.
Go beyond a nonfiction account of her life and fill in details you
imagine. What emotions did she feel? What was the “story behind the
story”? Since Historical Fiction doesn’t haveta include a romance,
although many have romantic elements, your story doesn’t need to end on
a happy note. (Tried to think of how to put a positive spin on bein’
burned at the stake, but that’s a tough one.)
Mystery vs. Suspense
Mystery: The reader hasta solve
something. We don’t know who the murderous, nasty,
scumbag—sorry—alleged criminal is. Protagonist can be a bona fide
detective, as in a Traditional Mystery (think Sherlock Holmes),
or not, as in most Cozy Mysteries (think Nancy Drew.)
In a Mystery, the writer must
give the reader clues to follow and a list of possible suspects. The
trail often leads down a slow-winding path where the reader exercises
his or her brain to deduce the outcome. (This takes some Mensa
candidates longer than others. Sorry.)
Action-packed. Fast-paced. Building tension. A mad killer (or insert
favorite violent crime) roams the streets, and someone’s gotta stop
’em. (Put me in, Coach, I’m ready to kill—er—play!) We may know who the
Antagonist is, so we don’t need to figure out whodunit; rather, how to catch
whodunit. The emphasis is the thrill of the chase. How many more
victims will the nutjob hack up before we shoot ’em dead? (I know, we
can’t blast all of them—we toss some behind bars—but a gal can dream,
a side note, the Antagonist
could be the Protagonist (think The Hand That Rocks the Cradle).
I know that’s a movie, but it’s late, I’m tired, and that was the first
example to fill my nearly empty noggin.
Urban Fantasy vs. Speculative Fiction
Science Fiction: We’re not only
off the ranch, we’re off the planet. Or we’re on our planet but waaay
into the future. We’re boardin’ spaceships and rockets to go to
Grandma’s house (red capes are optional) or fightin’ off aliens.
You might remember those sneaky
creatures from one of my favorite episodes of The Twilight
Zone: Aliens land on Earth to help us out. Some humans are
overjoyed; some humans are skeptical. (That’d be me.) They brought us a
cool tome entitled To Serve Man loaded with all the
instructions needed to create utopia on Earth. Then they start haulin’
us to their planet to see their utopia. But their language is different
from ours, and the only words we’ve deciphered are the ones used in the
title. As our hero is boarding that ole spaceship for greener pastures
(didn’t his mama warn him about that?), his brilliant partner (a woman,
of course) yells to him, “Stop! To Serve Man—it’s a
COOKBOOK!” Too late. Sigh. Alien shoves the dude in, then slams the
hatch shut. Yum.
Urban Fantasy: A Traditional
Fantasy conjures up pictures of unicorns and fairies—at least for
me—and is ultra otherworldly and detailed. Urban Fantasy usually occurs
on Earth as we know it, and in modern times. But something is
different. Mayhap humans and aliens co-existing is the norm. Mayhap
humans think of police officers as criminals instead of heroes. (I know
I did, but that was when I was a criminal.) The
setting is usually in a city, but not always. (Which is why I often
wonder why they use the term “urban.” Ah, well . . .)
Speculative Fiction: What
would’ve happened if (fill in the blank with an
important event). Some major occurrence did or didn’t happen, thus
For example, let’s say President
Reagan had lost his presidential bid. (I nearly fainted just typin’
that heinous statement.) Capitalism would’ve died, taxes would’ve
skyrocketed, the size of our government would’ve grown to massive
proportions, and our nation would’ve taken a nosedive into a
depression, followed by a Socialist/Communist/Fascist takeover. Then,
we loyal, patriotic Americans would’ve had another Civil War. Instead
of the Blue against the Gray, it’d be the Blue against the Red(s). Oh,
calm down. I said if! And I refuse to apologize.
Well, I’m over my allotted word
count, so that’s all she wrote. Until next month . . . miss me.