Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Genre Wars: Literary Fiction Against Science Fiction

Writers, do you wonder why other writers/agents/editors/friends want to know what genre your writing falls into? It’s so they know which regiment you will fall into if there were ever a genre war. If you written a novel with bits of different genres and can’t work out which army you should fall into, well, you need to make a decision or you’ll be sent to a writing camp and made to write until you have a definite genre.

You would have thought the crumpling publishing industry would make authors join forces and live in harmony. Chicklit authors would be hugged by fantasy authors. YA authors would be welcomed into the inner circle. Literary authors would sit around the camp fire with science fiction authors, laughing at some lame publishing joke. But this is delusional.
The simmering friction between literary fiction versus science fiction is now national news. Science fiction / Horror / Fantasy authors have sent a letter to the BBC asking why their genre doesn’t get the same coverage as literary fiction. You can read some reports here, here and here. “When two tribes go to war” went around, in a loop, in my head as I jumped between articles.
A war is definitely going to happen.

The war will look strange to any one not familiar with genre clichés. Yes, clichés will be the main weapons of choice. No one wants to use new metaphors for a war. They want to save fresh prose for their epic novels.

Other genres will be involved, but will mainly watch from the sidelines. Chicklit authors will promise to run the refreshment tent but will either fall into a champagne coma or get bored and go shopping. The Lad-lit crowd will probably be running bets on who will win, who will get the first red card, which side will swallow a troll.
The location will need to be a huge empty space, maybe the pages of a blank book. The guttering of the pages will be no-man’s land.
No hand sake at the beginning – just in case the other side try to break those essential typing fingers.
The science fiction writers will fire first. They will send hundreds of trolls into enemy territory to bite the ankles of literary authors. After bandaging up the wounded, literary fiction authors will send over child narrators with squeaky voices, until the ear drums of the science fiction writers pop. Science fiction authors will send out an air-based strike. Battle star ships will use their cannons to fire out space opera books. Characters, whose names begin with X or Z, will parachute into enemy territory and try stealing plot lines about council estates. A mushroom shaped cloud of purple prose will silence both sides. No one will know who fired the weapon. Many will probably think it was the science fiction writers because they normally fight until they have a dystopian landscape, resembling the landscape of many novels.

Of course, like a playground game, no body will die. They will be made to suffer a course in their most detested genre, then made to read at least fifty books of that genre and finally, write a novel in that genre.


James Hughes said...

Love this post. Genre Wars would make a great online game for writers, or an app for the iPhone. Jessica will hopefully inspire the gamers to create.

Jessica said...

Thanks James - an App sounds cool - I might have to learn how to write apps!