1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Member

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    Fiction Writers: why do you write what you write?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by J.T. Woody, May 13, 2018.

    Just curious, if you write fantasy/urban fantasy, sci-fi, or magical realism..... why?

    For me, I don't want to write slice-of-life fiction because I want to just escape into the weird part of my mind for a few hours as I write (I'll admit, talking about my weird plots to non-writers like my fiancee or my family, makes me feel uncomfortable because I keep thinking they are judging my sanity!). Another reason is, its just easier to make up races and cultures and languages. I can do all the research in the world about a culture or historic point in time, and still feel like I'll misrepresent them/it in some way shape or form. So out of respect, I want to stay away from writing about "real" things and "real people."

    How about you?
     
  2. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    I am the same - I would rather not get bogged down on extensive research on existing events, cultures and people, and then find out that my knowledge is woefully inadequate.

    So I make up my own world, history, cultures and people. But why is it a requirement that fictional worlds ought to have magic, deities and dragons? I just want to write historical fiction/adventure without being constrained by our history.
     
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  3. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Member

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    Indeed! I've started writing a Sci-Fi ("started" as in 4 years ago, haha!). It literally started out as a daydream... 2 young women in the '50s walk into a diner one evening after sneaking out of their homes. They start playing tracks from the jukebox and having a good time, then a group of guys come over and say they don't belong there and they need to leave. Their kind is not allowed.
    Well, I didn't want to get bogged down, as you said, by histories of "now".... so I started creating my own alternative histories where that scene would fit, that eventually lead to early space exploration and life on other planets, etc. etc.
    No magic or dragons involved!
     
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  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I generally write what I read, so thriller crime war and sci fi
     
  5. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Like @big soft moose , I write in the genre that I prefer to read, so contemporary m/m romance. I'm a terrible world-builder, so I would suck horribly at anything like fantasy or sci-fi, and YA doesn't interest me at all because I have no desire to write main characters that aren't adults.
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I love history. I love reading about it, and watching TV and movies set in the past. I don't know why in particular, but I've always been drawn to the past. To know there are people and civilisations that have gone before.

    I love artifacts, and museums with artifacts in them. So it's only natural that I would want to write a historical novel. (Or two.) I do read lots of other kinds of fiction, but history is a passion of mine. Doing research is a great part of the fun, for me. And getting lost in a well-written, well-researched historical novel is one of life's greatest pleasures for me.

    I'm more interested in social history than military or political history, though. I like reading about how people lived.
     
  7. Cephus

    Cephus Member

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    For the same reason I read what I read, which is the same thing that I write. It's what I enjoy thinking about and what I enjoy interacting with.
     
  8. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Out of respect you don't write realistic fiction? That really makes no sense. And realistic fiction can be as weird and removed from history as you want it to be. It's fine if you only write genre, but writing realistic fiction is done all the time without insult. It also doesn't make sense that you want to write historical fiction, but not have it reflect history. That's not historical fiction.

    I mostly write literary fiction. Like others it's what I love and read. And writing is still an escape for me at times. And I almost never do any kind of research for my stories just because it's not needed. I write the world I know turned upside down and spinning fast in the wrong direction.
     
  9. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    It makes sense to me - it's alternate history, or alternate reality fiction set in a time period that roughly echoes some time period from our own sociopolitical development.

    I don't see the "respect" part in the post you're quoting, so I'm not sure what you mean about that, and I don't see the poster saying s/he's writing "historical fiction" as a genre - I read it as the poster writing alternate reality fiction because s/he doesn't want to write straight-up historical fiction.
     
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  10. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I've always like stories like that. My WIP is set in a place like Ancient Greece, set two steps sideways. I'm doing research and outlining for another book in the same time period, with characters from China.

    Robert Howard liked historical fiction but thought it was too much work for not enough benefit, so he scrubbed the serial numbers off of history, but made a setting he could identify with (flawed as his racists ass's vision may be). I think it's fun to write about a place and time while helping the reader to accept the absurdity of what's going on because it's clear the story is set in a place that isn't real.
     
  11. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I enjoy it, too. I've written a novel set in a vaguely medieval setting but with elements inspired by Ancient Greece plus a completely fictional social structure, etc. As Dracon says, why should it be okay to make up a totally new setting as long as you include dragons or magic or whatever, but not okay if you don't include those elements?

    Yay, alternate reality fiction! Go, team!
     
  12. ShannonH

    ShannonH Member Supporter

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    I write sci-fi/space opera because it's a genre I've always loved.

    I also write characters and settings that I would find interesting as a reader.
     
  13. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    I'm another for writing what I do because it's what I enjoy reading. That, and the great degree of creative freedom fantasy allows.
     
  14. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I quoted the wrong post. But in the original post which is the one I meant to quote, the OP talks about "respect" as you can see quoted in the first message here.
     
  15. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I've looked at this thread a few times and considered responding, but couldn't quite figure out how I wanted to phrase it, so I'll just give it shot.

    Generally, I write literary fiction, but I don't much like that term. It seems pretentious for me to call my work literary. I write contemporary stories, usually focused on characters. I like to explore complex relationships and situations that don't have a good solution. I like that humans are never one way all the time, and that's something I tend to include in a majority of my work. Sci-Fi, Fantasy, thrillers, etc. are all fine to read, but I don't think I'd much enjoy writing them. World building doesn't interest me in the way a character losing his or her shit in line at a grocery store interests me.

    This is going to sound way overblown, but who cares, right? I think perspectives are interesting. I think it's really fucking cool that two people can have the same experience (getting stuck in a huge line at a grocery store) and react in wildly different ways. It's really fucking cool that two brothers can be raised in the same house, but their memories and experiences can be opposite. All of those things come down to the way we view the world, a unique mental framework for each person. I suppose using a contemporary setting somewhat highlights these ideas. Sure, the same things can be explored in genre fiction. I don't know. Maybe I'm just lazy and don't want to make up all my own shit? I'm okay with that.
     
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  16. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Oh, that makes more sense! At least... it makes more sense in regards to the "respect" part... but I still don't see the poster mentioning writing historical fiction?
     
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  17. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    Nonetheless, it still means that you're confined to Earth's geography, history and cultures and I find that a pretty massive constriction.

    Allow me to clarify. The two genres I enjoy reading the most are fantasy and historical fiction. I rarely read anything else. I enjoy reading fantasy not really so much for the magic, gods and mythical beasts. Sometimes thats the least interesting part for me. If the magic system doesn't grab me, then I do sometimes struggle to get through the book.

    It's the worldbuilding I find fascinating. The fictional wars, politics and characters. I enjoy reading historical fiction too, but it does sometimes take the fun out of things a little if you know Hannibal won the Battle of Cannae or Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs with less than 1000 men.

    I'm the one person who huffs and puffs and skim-reads Jon's battles with the White Walkers and Daenerys and her dragons, and get completely thrilled and absorbed by the political intrigue in King's Landing.

    I'm aware that I'm on my own with that, but *shrug*. So what else can I do but write a novel of my own that reflecrs exactly that? Especially since I don't see any on the shelves, so I guess it's down to me to put them there now I've realised that nobody is going to do it for me! :D

    Call it "alternate reality" then if you like, but I also find that to be an inaccurate descriptor because there is nothing 'alternate' about it - it's a completely different world to Earth.
     
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  18. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I'm 100% with you on this! I was so disappointed when all the magic stuff made its way into the series. I loved it as a political thriller... I don't much care about it as a Fantasy series.
     
  19. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I write mostly YA and romance, and I like both of them because they're genres that are defined by characters and theme rather than by setting or plot. So as long as my characters are rich and interesting and my themes are genre-appropriate, I can have my characters do whatever I want in whatever settings I want. SFF Romance? Sure. YA mystery? Absolutely. Action? Sure, throw it in to either. Alternate reality, either historical or futuristic? That works!

    If I were TOTALLY dedicated to marketing, I'd pick one sub-category and stick with it. But I'm not that dedicated, so I write the genres that allow me to build some level of name recognition while still having lots of fun exploring different plot-structures and settings.
     
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  20. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    It's good to know I'm not alone :p seems everyone hates on A Feast for Crows, but that's where all the interesting storylines were. On the other hand it took me a couple of months to get into A Dance with Dragons.

    And I realise that was somewhat inaccurately worded, for although the men, horses and gunpowder certainly did help, they owe their victory largely to Malintzin and other Mesoamerican slaves able to inform them of the land and it's people, as well as translate and talk their way out of disaster.
     
  21. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I think I like to write "literary" fiction for the same reasons. I can do pretty much whatever I want, but I'm not constrained to genre conventions. I write all kinds of romantic plots, but they seldom have a happily ever after or happy for now ending. Usually, it's the opposite, but I could never call myself a romance writer 1) because I can't seem to wrap my mind around happy endings and 2) sex scenes don't show up a whole lot in my work. Writing the fiction I do gives me more freedom? Or it feels that way, at least.

    The downside of this is that there are a number of my stories that would likely be very difficult to find homes for. For example: I have a story about penis shadow puppetry. It's absurd, and I haven't the faintest idea where I would send that for publication.
     
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  22. Mink

    Mink Active Member

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    Because the world needs more male pregnancy? :p

    I'm only joking. Slightly. (I have a biological reasoning so the pregnancy makes sense before anyone asks.)

    For my non-kink oriented writing, I write to express myself and to, for a time, be someone I wish I could be. It's an escape from the everyday life I live.
     
  23. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think literary fiction also focuses on style quite a bit. Quirky style is often admired and encouraged. How the story is told is just as important as the story itself.

    It's funny how certain tropes sneak into it, though. One of the tropes my husband has noticed in literary novels at the moment ...and he's right ...is the amount of books that contain lists. It's rarely just one or two things that get mentioned, when it comes to something a character sees, or eats, or has in the closet, or likes or dislikes about people or places ...it's a whole list of them. I don't mind this list at all, but he hates it. Has anybody else noticed the 'list' thing?
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
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  24. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Literary fiction may be highbrow, but I don't think it's pretentious. I've been reading and enjoying literary fiction for as long as I can remember. Sure, it's not everyone's thing, but I wouldn't see why you wouldn't want to call it what it is. I absolutely love literary fiction, and it's because of that I write it. I do dabble in genre, but I think there is still a literary flare to my work, perhaps, making my genre stuff not genre enough.

    I love literary fiction that ventures into the absurd. As for your story, try The Paris Review. I know it may seem ridiculous or too much of a long shot to try places like that, but they do buy stories all the time. I'm a long-time reader of The Paris Review. In recent years they seem to have gotten more risqué. A lot of their stories I would say they are literary sexy, not sexy sexy. Weird, offbeat and something sexy seems to be what they like a lot of the time. And I don't know if you can get more literary than The Paris Review. I know people can hear the names of these publications and think they must be pretentious, but I actually read them. Seriously, though, from the little you've said about your story, that's the place I would try. Really polish it up, but try them. Maybe go to a bookstore or library and read some of their fiction. They only put teasers on their website. A few of us were talking about The Paris Review on another thread and I said how the winter issue made me blush. I think it's worth checking out. Good luck.
     
  25. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Nope. I'd be much happier if Game of Thrones had nothing supernatural in it.

    My WIP is mostly set in what I shorthand as "The Welsh in Capri in the 18th century". But that's just to summarize the concepts; it's absolutely not the real world. And while there's a little supernatural, it's composed of elements that I'd be just as happy to insert in, say, 21st century Portland.
     
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