Friday, March 16, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#111) -- Literary Genre Writing

A few days ago, you posted about applying literary 
technique to genre fiction. What did you mean by that?

I think Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut are excellent examples of writers who elevated the genre in which they wrote. Fahrenheit 451 is a great action story, but it's deeper than that. Slaughterhouse Five is an amazing time travel story, but so much more than that.

Why?

Because the story had substance beyond the mere plot. The characters resonated with readers because of WHO they were, not WHAT they were. The themes spoke to fears and ambitions common to most of the readers. The stories made statements, but not at the expense of a great yarn.

In short, they did the same thing Hemingway and Faulkner and O'Hara were doing, but they did it in a "lesser" genre known as science fiction. They didn't get caught up in the genre vs. literary hang up publishers and writers have today. They borrowed and mish-mashed stuff together right and left and made both the worlds of both genre and literary writing better because of it. 

I want to do the same with whatever genre or format or setting in which I write, from comics (a format, not a genre) to pulp and horror (genres) or super heroes and steampunk (settings). I just want to continue to tell good stories that hopefully have meaning beyond just the surface action.