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  1. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Are people getting too crazy with genres?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Daemon Wolf, Jul 26, 2015.

    Are people getting too crazy about trying to explain genres? I mean to everybody I know Science Fiction is a genre about advanced technology, space travel, and other things along that line. But then you have people trying to say that's not what it is and trying to delve deeper into what science fiction "is". And this goes for all Genres I see.

    As somebody who just focuses on the story instead of the genre I think it's kind of weird. Kind of annoying. I mean in essence we are trying to force science fiction into a thin category and the more and more we do this the less we are able to wiggle and move. I doubt older authors cared about all that, they just created fantastical stories in space and they were science fiction. Along with other genres.

    I understand that everybody has their own personal view of what science fiction is and that's great but should we really be trying to force the genres into these thin lines? I personally don't and it bugs me that we do.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Poppet, if this gets your hackles up, never ever write erotica. There are as many definitions of what erotica is and isn't as there are people giving opinions. It's just an opinion, to which everyone has a right.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    As a person who likes to create stories that don't quite make the genre grades, I find the expectations somewhat nerve wracking.
    I have a robot story that contains no science. But do I sell it as fantasy when there's no magic, no elves, no middle ages, or mystic creatures? I also have a dystopian prison novella idea that I'm tinkering with and have no idea what genre that fits into.
    It never stops my writing but it's tough when it comes to self publishing. And ... I have no idea how I'm going to get an agent.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
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  4. MoonDreamer
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    MoonDreamer New Member

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    I agree with you.
    I've always thought that genres are not defined by a list of "must have" in order to be "this".
    Also, genres definition is also quite "outdated", isnt it? I don't think we can actually "classify" creative works; maybe some have some things in common (like similar topics, focus on technology and science (like in science fiction), preferences for certain writing styles...) however, every writer is unique and so are his/her own creations.
    Writers are free to write whatever they want, putting them in genres is just for critique's convenience so that they can study literature from a whole perspective.
    In this time we can no more tell what a short story is or how long it is supposed to be. There are short stories that consist on just one phrase.
     
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  5. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Yeah I wrote a short story focusing on how people react when in danger and confronted by a monster and town folks who just ignore and even feed the creature. Now to me that would be Horror but I probably will find somebody who tries telling me it's not.
     
  6. MoonDreamer
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    MoonDreamer New Member

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    Yeah, sounds like a horror story to me too.
    But yeah, there may be people who could tell you it's got some surrealism behind it and try to analyze the town folks psyche. And so they may come up your story cannot fit in the horror genre but in some kind of surrealism or magic realism.
    I also have one story about a girl who lives isolated in her own made-up country; however, she starts feeling lonely after some time and decides to create a doll for it to be with her. But when the doll refuses to do as she wishes, she decides to kill it with a pair of scissors. After that, a man who highly resembles the doll arrives in this girl's country and so she starts haunting him to the point of apparently "murdering his brother", locking him inside a house and attacking him with a pair of scissors.
    I actually planned this story to be surrealistic (as everything that was happening was actually a symbol); but some friend of mine told me it was some kind of psychological horror.
     
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  7. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Yeah I've had people try and put Star Wars in just the fantasy genre because they don't understand how the tech works in the world. That it "might as well have been created with magic" being their view of why it's not science fantasy but just fantasy. Even though (to me) the science part represents advanced technology and space and aliens [So basically what everybody thinks of when they think of sci-fi] and the fantasy part of Star Wars is the Jedi Order being like knights and the sith and force being more magical than anything. So it falls into the category of Science Fantasy.
     
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  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    By getting "too crazy" do you mean simply not sharing your views on genre, or do you mean creating threads devoted to complaining about the fact that people don't share your views on genre? If it's the latter, then yes I think people are getting too crazy.
     
  9. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    No. As in people are forcing the genre into a thin line instead of letting everybody have different views or the genre to be a wide open area instead of everybody trying to focus it.
     
  10. MoonDreamer
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    MoonDreamer New Member

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    Oh, it's true. It could be considered some kind of science fantasy. The idea of the "force" is really magical.
    But yeah, it could be both, both science fiction and both fantasy or just a mix of the two; or let's say, it has characteristics from both genres.
    However, I find it quite hard to set the line between fantasy and science fiction, more especially with the new theories of quantum physics, dark matter and multiverses; Who knows? Maybe in some years the "force" could be scientifically proved as a governing force for all the universe and its beings.
    That's why genres shouldn't be static and absolute. Their definition can change from time to time.
     
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  11. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Yeah I've seen people right articles about how said genre is an absolute. And I think it's absurd.
     
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  12. MoonDreamer
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    MoonDreamer New Member

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    Yeah. Nothing in literature (or arts in general) can be considered absolute. New discoveries lead to new theories.
     
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  13. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Nowadays if we find a new discovery we just force it into it's "place" in a new genre.
     
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  14. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, and eats a duck-like diet, we have to assume that someone will freak out when we call it a duck. Extra points for starting a new thread though.
     
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  15. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Knowing exactly how a genre is defined only becomes important if you want a genre publisher to consider your work for publishing. Otherwise, the world is your oyster.

    However, never discount the amount of creativity you have to muster to not only fit into a narrow genre definition, but to find a new idea within those confines. If you can manage that, the world is your oyster.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  16. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    In reality there are only a few genres;
    • Science Fiction
    • Fantasy
    • Crime Drama
    • Horror
    • Non Fiction
    • Romantic
    • Modern Day
    • Historical
    • Western
    I can't remember if I'm missing anything but those are the ones the are the main ones where all the smaller genres reside in or are split between. Comedy could be placed in either one. You could do Sci-Fi Horror, Horror Fantasy, Science Fantasy, etc. All from those main genres, the genres that encompass all the smaller ones.
     
  17. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Where's creative non-fiction? Or erotica? Is self help non-fiction? What about The Zombie Survival Guide? How do we classify zombies? If a novel is "Modern Day" but it's written in 1867 is it still Modern Day, or Historical?

    You remind me of the little kids in Good Omens who, when confronted with the possibilities of 31 flavors of ice cream, suposite that they're all combinations of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.
     
  18. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Thanks I forgot Apocalypse. And it's in Non-Fiction hence the title "creative non-fiction". Erotica would fall back into Romance. Zombie Survival Guide would be Apocalypse and zombies. And whether it is modern day or historic depends on when it is written. If you write a story about ancient Greece whilst in the 1980's then it's historical. If somebody from ancient Greece wrote about current times then it's Modern day. Of course I'm sure Modern Day could just fit into the other categories. And as for the sad insult: I believe there are a lot of flavors of story, but to try and force them into absolutes is completely ridiculous. Every type of story is connected to either one or more of these genres. That's why they are called 'Sub-Genres'.
     
  19. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    A genre merely refers to the qualities that a given set of works share in common and other works do not share. Different qualities are important to different people.

    I have my own genre system in my own mind that I use to categorize works based on their qualities that I think are important. It is a useful system to me, but I am not even going to pretend it is useful to other people. And other people should not delude themselves into thinking their categorization systems are useful to me.
     
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  20. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    My job is in Information Technology and have been doing it for years. We have strict name conventions or mnemonic naming conventions and there is a governing body. For example it's called 10baseT because that's what the governing body decided. And this is a necessary step to set industry standards. Otherwise, persons would never be able to communicate effectively on what they're working on or what they need. It would be a mess.

    With art, it's fluid, interpretative. And, in my opinion, it's the interpretation that makes ART so amazing. I understand the need to categorize stories, but agree with Daemon - it's getting a bit crazy from the publisher and writer view points.

    My suggestion is: We need a governing body for genre. I suggest: CAPER, Council and Perception Engineering Rules.
     
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  21. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Or for people to not try and put our genres into "thin lines". The genres I listed above I like because they are very open and cover a large basis: Sci-fi being about futuristic tech, apocalypse about the downfall of mankind, Crime Drama about murders or crime in general. I like those because it tells what you're writing about without such tight constraints on it and you can actually explore the genre instead of how some people like to put it in these tight categories where: "This" is 1 & 2 and if it were 1 & 3 it would be completely different even though they would both be to one genre. Hell even subgenres give you space to move. It just bugs me how we seem to be trying to force it all into these thin absolutes.
     
  22. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Personally we should all just write our stories and then see what genre it fits into, rather than look at what genre we are going to write and make the story fit the genre. It's just which part of the bookstore you stick it in, after all. What 'defines' a genre should remain basic at best.
     
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  23. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Having read some other recent threads, I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that this one had its genesis in quibblings over sci-fi vs fantasy.

    The argument you've encountered is that sci-fi should revolve around science. Based on what you're writing in this thread, I suspect you don't understand what science is, which is perfectly forgivable. Lots of people don't - it's not generally well-taught in school.

    Science does not mean "advanced technology". Science is a process by which understanding of a topic is gained based on observations from the real world. The topic is irrelevant: it could be how stars work, how you can make a new drug to treat a particular illness, why an animal only eats a specific kind of plant, etc. Science only relates to technology in that it is the method used to gain the understanding necessary to develop it.

    You could view a fictional magic wand as technology: it's a tool that has been developed in order to perform a function. But no-one in the real world understands how they work, therefore they are not scientific technology, which is why they don't exist. This is partly why people argue that Star Wars is fantasy rather than science fiction. Do you understand how a lightsabre or faster-than-light travel works? If so, let's get a Kickstarter going.

    Simply depicting scientific technology does not mean a work is about science either. The near-entirety of The Cyberbully revolves around how people are using current technology (computers, social media, mobile phones, webcams, etc). But no-one calls it sci-fi, because it is not about our understanding of that technology; just about how people are using it. Similarly, Star Wars is about how two different factions are using their technology to fight each other (just like elves vs orcs or whatever).

    At the time Jurassic Park was written, we'd recently discovered via science how to extract DNA, splice genes and clone animals. The book explored possible fallout from that understanding in a "What if..." ("...we were able to get our hands on dinosaur DNA?") scenario. Jurassic Park is almost universally accepted as science fiction (?prove me wrong Internet).

    Anyway, that's the underpinning of the argument. It's compelling to people familiar with what science is, but means little to those who aren't, which just reiterates what has already been said about genres being subjective. A genre is only a label given to something by Person A in an effort to briefly communicate its nature to Person B. That label reflects Person A's understanding or opinion.

    I think most scientists accept that "science fiction" is an extremely liberal term in colloquial use. Perhaps their argument is more of a protest at how little the general public understands what science is. Maybe they're right to protest: it probably is important to understand the method responsible for the existence of contemporary life. Or maybe they're just idiots who don't understand genres as well as you, @Daemon Wolf .

    I personally agree with most other posters that genres aren't important. I'd always read a blurb or ask for a more detailed description of something recommended to me.
     
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  24. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    The whole "You don't know how lightsabers work or how faster than light travel works" is kind of silly since after science is the world Fiction. Which is "literature in the form of prose, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people". So to state just because you don't understand how something works doesn't make it not sci-fi. This thread is about how people are trying to force genres into small never moving/never changing definitions. Where as the term Science Fiction is quite broad there are those who want (and say) science fiction is a more compact definition that only applies to few things where as the genre encompasses much more than that.
     
  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This argument makes no sense. Fantasy is also fiction, so hanging the description of the genre on the word fiction and ignoring the word science does nothing to differentiate it from fantasy. It also doesn't make much sense to expand the definition of a word just for the sake of doing so. Every story has some level of technology in it. In police/detective novels, the cops ride around in cars. Under an overly broad definition of science fiction, those works become science fiction. And in fact they become more logically science fiction than Star Wars because at least they're following scientific principles. Clearly, that's an absurd result.

    Really, your argument boils down to the position that the word "science" in the name of the genre is ultimately entirely meaningless. That seems like a bad way to define genres, which I why I think so many people are rejecting that approach. Calling Star Wars fantasy in space is much more accurate, doesn't require a superfluous word like science that has no applicability to the work, and is in fact entirely consistent with fantasy as a genre. Calling it science fiction requires you to ignore the word science, and there's really nothing about the Star Wars stories that are consistent with SF as a genre.

    You can call it what you want, but your reasoning is flawed. It seems that it's more important to you to be right just for the sake of winning an argument than to actually put forward a reasoned viewpoint.
     
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