Is it time for a new genre? - Page 5


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Thread: Is it time for a new genre?

  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Yeah, it's still not ideal though, because she is still basing her genres around things that nobody actually needs to use as categories.

    Historical fiction is the most glaring example of something that is obvious bullshit as a genre. Historical fiction is any story that is set in a defined historical period, which is a controversial identifier itself -- the eighties is not yet historical, the fifties is getting there, the twenties is, the 19th century definitely is -- okay, great, now who is deciding this? Strike one.
    You're talking about crappy historical fiction. Good historical fiction should be much more than old clothes and no cell phones. It should be like traveling to another country. A completely different set of rules, laws and culture is going on.

    I am annoyed by pseudo-historical fiction. If you have to bend all of the existing cultural rules and if you're not using any facts or events or real life people or the judgements of that different culture then why not move the story to today? Because you like the clothes? There's a show out on Netflix right now called Bridgerton and it breaks so many rules of the culture back then, emphasizes other rules incorrectly for some kind of semblance of a plotline and in general is a mess--- but the clothes look pretty.

    Good historical fiction should be deeply researched and you should be able to be submerged in a different way of life that actually happened. There's a huge difference between "old clothes" 1/5th historical-but-mainly-just-fiction and the real researched McCoy. I read once that there was a historical fiction so well researched that they used to make high ranking officers read it to study Napoleon's war tactics. That should be how it is with the whole genre.... and the best of it is, imo. Compare Katherine by Anya Seton to Outlander. Since I write it I really should find out more about my fellow authors in this area, the deeply researching ones, and I really only know a few. I do like Bernard Cornwell, and his stuff is pretty well researched. I love Atonement by McEwan. That was great work writing from the 30's. The Year of Wonders was pretty interesting and pretty well-researched.

    I don't know... I guess people like the hats. I also think people like breaking the old rules in favor of popular ideas now, but that kind of drives me crazy if people don't see the implications and think everyone will just agree with them. Headed for witch burnings, beheadings, Australia or gulags, depending. =)
    Last edited by Llyralen; January 12th, 2021 at 07:31 AM.

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Llyralen View Post
    You're talking about crappy historical fiction. Good historical fiction should be much more than old clothes and no cell phones. It should be like traveling to another country. A completely different set of rules, laws and culture is going on.
    No, I'm talking about the genre itself.

    Regardless of whether we're talking crappy historical fiction or great historical fiction the point is 'historical' generally only comes down to the setting ('rules, laws and culture') and aesthetic affectations (use 'thou' instead of 'you', say) and not the actual story. Which is why most historical fiction can be transplanted to present day or another time period altogether (as is the case with most modern Shakespeare performances -- The Tempest set in the 1990's Caribbean with the exact same plot and characters) and quite a bit of modern set stories can be 'period set' as well, although that's less common.

    There is very little historical fiction that NEEDS to be historical to make sense, because the history is largely a backdrop rather than a crucial component of the story, which is why -- again -- there is almost no common thread to 'historical fiction'. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, Pillars Of The Earth, Shakespeare In Love and 11/22/63 are all historical fiction and have absolutely nothing in common, because they are all entirely different genres within this one, nebulous 'historical fiction' genre that doesn't even share commonalities within itself, being that the time periods in question are almost infinite in scope and meaning.

    This makes it meaningless as a literary term, though infinitely vital as a marketing term: Because readers who like stories set during World War Two likely wont be as enthusiastic about a Glorious Revolution setting, or a Dark Ages setting...even though the actual STORY might be almost identical! Historical fiction is about appealing to a reader's pre-formed interest in Period X and then exploiting that to tell a story that may be very good, often is just an ordinary romance or whatever.

    I'm finding this right now with my WIP. I love historical fiction because I love history but the time period I picked out (Edwardian) is purely because I like the look and feel of that era and know a bit about it. I could have set it in Ancient Greece and the story itself would hardly have changed, I just would have had to design the set and visual differently, renamed characters, possibly de-Victorianized it. This is very interesting from a costume design standpoint, but it's not all that interesting from a literary standpoint. Most tellingly, now that I have told you it's historical fiction, you still have no clue what it's about...because this isn't a genre that matters.

  3. #43
    Hmm. This is the problem with having a historical fiction forum too. There can be an endless amount of “eras” people want to discuss and one person in each getting to talk to no one unless you are in the more popular eras.
    if you’re writing a historical fiction about an actual person then it can take on a biographical element... those are the best researched ones I was mentioning. I hadn’t gotten your point, I guess I’ve got to read up further.

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Llyralen View Post
    Hmm. This is the problem with having a historical fiction forum too. There can be an endless amount of “eras” people want to discuss and one person in each getting to talk to no one unless you are in the more popular eras.
    if you’re writing a historical fiction about an actual person then it can take on a biographical element... those are the best researched ones I was mentioning. I hadn’t gotten your point, I guess I’ve got to read up further.
    There are some historical fiction novels that seek to create an accurate (albeit fictionalized) account of *event*. Somebody could make a (tenuous) case that that is a genre, because the historicism is not merely a backdrop, not merely a marketing dress, but something that is fundamental to the story. The Pillars of the Earth is an example of that because it offers a sort of living account of a period and a deep dive. But even then, it's fairly nebulous to say that 'an account of a historical period' is the story itself, because it isn't really -- it can't be, because 'a period' is not a plot. There's an entire plot within that whose identity is not even hinted at through the label. And besides which, of course, most historical fiction isn't 'Earth, isn't nearly as detailed on history as 'Earth, and plainly uses the history as an absolute backdrop. The historical aspects regarding sinking of the Titanic and the attack on Pearl Harbor is entirely secondary to their respective movies: Both are tragic romances and the plot and characters could be easily transposed into anything. Jack & Rose could be on the Costa Concordia, a 747 jumbo jet or a spaceship and it would hardly change anything important other than the scenery, the clothes they wear and the odd reference.

    Contrast that with the 'hard' genres: Fantasy, Horror, Romance, etc. and there's a difference that goes beyond simply window dressing. I don't even think those genre classifications should be nearly as important as they are...but you can easily explain why romance is distinctive to horror and it isn't simply to do with scenery or tropes or 'vibe'. A lot of horror fiction involves couples in love and a lot of romance involves the paranormal. There are romances involving vampires and zombies and there are horror novels set in high schools. But romance is romance because it has the love story as its central concern, always ends in some type of happy ending, and is generally optimistic about human nature. Horror has fear and terror as its central concern, rarely ends in a happy ending, and reflects the dark side of human nature. These are genres that have striking similarities across the board and carry a literary significance that would exist outside of publishing. Friday The 13th, The Shining, and Dracula don't resemble each other at all in setting, time period, design, yet they all are inextricably similar in terms of how they function. They all explore the dark side of human nature, they all contain rampant death and misery, they all have fairly unpleasant endings (some horror stories do have happy endings of a sort, but it's bittersweet and usually involves some form of trauma). Basically, these are genres that have their own existence outside of people just wanting them to exist.

  5. #45
    Thinking about the historical fiction I’d like to write, I was just thinking that there should be a genre that is a blend between biography and historical fiction with what I want to do for Beethoven end his love Josephine Brunsvik. I’d be using their real letters in the book (translated). I’d be looking at whatever I could find to basically trace Beethoven and her day to day activities.

    The book about Catherine Swyndon Bolingbrook who was the mistress of John of Gaunt was written something like this. Catherine was the sister in law of Chaucer. But supposedly John of Gaunt’s daily itineraries were kept so that the author knew exactly what John was doing on a daily basis. Something like:
    May 30, 1381
    8:00 Mass.
    9:00 breakfast
    10:00 archery
    11:00. meet Catherine.
    12:00 lunch
    13:00 Quell peasant revolt.

    That kind of detail was available to this author.

    I hope I can kind of do the same. It will take a LOT of research. I think I need to do it though.

    I was into a genre called Historical Fantasy a few years ago. I bet it has grown. Guy Gavriel Kay is one of the authors. You put in fantasy elements believed at the time. My favorite book of his is about Vikings and King Alfred (but I think he names everything as if it were from a fantasy country) and then you’ve got fairies believed in by the Brit/Welsh and you’ve got sorcery from the Vikings. It’s really cool, imo. A Book by a different author that I really should have the respect to look up “The Swan Maiden” got me into it. She writes about the Irish Deirdre during the time of King Connor/ Connacht and Queen Maeve and just lots of Celtic history along with Celtic/Druidic religion based on what we know but of course we really only know so much.
    Last edited by Llyralen; January 12th, 2021 at 10:38 PM.

  6. #46
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    I like ‘first drafts’...as a genre. I like the vitality, and risk, and error. That’s my nomination for new genre. For example ‘a first draft shootout’ contest would give a lot of pleasure. We could write free, laugh at ourselves afterward, discuss ‘way to go’/pathways,

    Kind of a counterweight to endless draft with which we are all familiar. Futureways stick a D1 in the top right corner, or 1D as marker of super genre.

  7. #47
    There's a difference between fiction about history and fiction which uses history as a setting/backdrop.

  8. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    There's a difference between fiction about history and fiction which uses history as a setting/backdrop.
    To me, fiction about history = alt-history, for example a world where the American revolution never happened.
    Fiction as a back drop doesn't change history, and tells the story of someone living through dramatic real events.

  9. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    There's a difference between fiction about history and fiction which uses history as a setting/backdrop.
    Not sure I understand the first example. Do you mean something like the Netflix series, The Crown, where the historical events and characters are real, but the dialogue is ficticious?
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  10. #50
    I’m not sure what Eternalgreen would use as examples, but The Crown is definitely what I’m talking about with historical fictions that are almost close to biography using some of the things we know people said as much as possible and not deviating from fact or making up new “facts”. You’re still telling a story but it’s closer to journalism or biography with it being about “finding” the story inside of what actually happened.

    The book I mentioned Katherine by Anya Seton is also about real people and real occurrences like The Crown. John Cowper Powys also wrote some like this. Sometimes the biographies of presidents take on some fictional aspects in the way that they are told.

    Hamilton, the musical, has a lot of fiction added, well at least in the role of Angelica who was already married when she met Hamilton, although she did say to her sister in a letter “Can you share him?” But Lin-Manual is aware and makes us aware of what he added. Anyway, this kind of historical fiction that follows real historical people can require a much greater amount of research than if you’re just using a historical period as a back-drop.

    Actually I still haven’t watched The Greatest Showman because I’ve always loved the real Jenny Lind who was adored by basically everyone for the fact that she was an angel and it’s a little known fact, from my research anyway, that she fell in love with Chopin in his last year of life when he was sick and dying. Anyway, I know that’s a funny reason for me not to watch it... but historical fiction about people that does not stick to the facts really bothers me for some reason. Again, I think real history is more interesting... it’s more interesting what truly happened with Jenny Lind and the circus and in America and with her real suitors and with Chopin’s crazy love life (I mean he REALLY had an interesting love life) that finally boiled down to Jenny than the made-up thing which ends up just striking me as kind of ridiculous in most instances if you know the characters involved and the period.

    Anyway, to really play with the real people at hand and do it well it takes tons of research, but I kind of can’t stand stuff that is off the mark. But I’m weird... sort of. I like real for my real stuff and as real as possible. I like my fantasy to be as real as possible too.... just kidding, but I do like a cohesive world. Some historical fiction writers are like me I think.. I guess it is kind of a cross with journalism and biography which is why The Crown is an excellent example.

    Alternative historical fiction is a separate genre to me that’s closer to fantasy. It only takes initial research and then your imagination can take over and create a world. That’s a big difference from a piece that is most interested in sticking closely to reality which takes loads of ongoing research, usually through the whole process.

    MadMen’s research seems very good and in-depth but the stories of the main characters are fictitious. Choosing one marketing guy to follow wouldn’t have been as interesting, but it did take ongoing research end many consults of people working in that business to keep that ongoing and correct backdrop of history. A history that does interact with the characters.

    To sum up “historical fiction” has levels. It’s really a super broad term, probably too broad for one genre.
    Last edited by Llyralen; January 13th, 2021 at 07:04 PM.

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