anghara (anghara) wrote,

Passing on a good bit of insight - discuss

A beautiful essay on writing and genre can be found here

Here's the bit that made me nod vigorously:

Literary fiction (at least in its modern, trade-paperbacked incarnation) is, in large part, about damaged people. Throughout the course of the narrative, the characters explore, express, and potentially rectify that damage to arrive at a state of functional integration. They may also affect and change their environment in the process, but the chief action – and the chief demonstrable result – is internal.

Speculative fiction (at least in its classic incarnation) is, in large part, about highly functional people dealing with damaged situations. Throughout the course of the narrative, the characters explore and potentially rectify that situation in order to arrive at a functional environment. The characters may grow and develop throughout the course of the narrative, but the chief action and the chief and ultimate demonstrable result is external.

This, then, is why there is such a collision of perspectives between those two worlds, particularly in the minds of A)reviewers and B)young writers. These folks, when attempting to critique or review speculative fiction, are stunned to learn that the characters they meet at the start of the action are where they expect characters to be at the end of the action - i.e. fully functional and no longer inclined to put a salmon down their pants to express their basic unhappiness. As such, that sort of reader can only wonder where the heck the story can possibly go, since the characters are already where they should end up.

I think that's brilliant.

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