Last week, Steven G dropped a question on me: What are your thoughts or rules regarding the use of existing fictional characters, real people, or historical places and events when writing "fiction"? For example, would it be valid to concoct a story where Huck Finn and I go fishing in Hawaii on Dec 7, 1941?
So, let's talk about speculative fiction.
To begin at the beginning, the world of fiction is divided into genres. I'm not sure how or when or why that occurred, but for purposes of today's fiction market, it's used to sub-divide books into general categories of interest. This allows booksellers to know where to place each book, and it allows publishing companies to balance their offering. On the front-line for us writers, it allows us to identify potential agents for our work, since successful agents generally build specialties in a few genres, and don't handle anything outside those genres.
Examples of genres are: romance, mystery, thriller/suspense, historical and literary fiction. The term literary fiction is kind of squishy. Some people even claim that any book or story that doesn't fit easily into any other defined genre is literary fiction. More typically, it's defined by being character- rather than plot-driven and leans toward more high end writing -- minimal use of adjectives and adverbs, avoidance of dialogue tags ("she whimpered," "he roared") and use of strong metaphor.
The flash fiction pieces you've been writing here at the Raisin Chronicles are literary fiction. (Note: I made that statement without going back and re-reading them, so cut me some slack if your entry better fits another genre.)
Told you all that to tell you this: the scenario that Steven G proposed falls into a classification called "speculative fiction."
This is a relatively new genre, and is considered a sub-genre of science fiction. If you're thinking, "but hanging out with Huck Finn in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor isn't science," I agree. It is, however, alternate history, and that's part of speculative fiction.
Speculative fiction can generally be defined as fiction spawned by "What If?" What if Huck Finn had been present at Pearl Harbor? In addition to being plot- or character-driven, it's idea-driven.
If you're interested, there's a good article here. The Wikidpedia entry is flawed, so I don't recommend going there.
This Week's Winner
We actually had only two entries this week, so by the authority vested in me as the owner of this contest and sole arbiter of what goes on here, I declare them both winners.
Cathy, from Coffee with Cathy submitted this:
The Dinner Party
It was a small thing, but the consequences after the honored dinner guest found a tiny hair in his after-dinner demitasse sent Mrs. Waldrop-Baird’s household into a frenzy from which it has yet to recover. The cook immediately was given notice – a sad thing, Mrs. Waldrop-Baird mused later, as good cooks have been scarce since the war – and both the butler and the kitchen maid were given a good talking to. Mrs. Waldrop-Baird hopes her firm and decisive action is enough to quell the gossip, although her rival, Mrs. Bennington Michaels III, thinks probably it is not.
Great voice, Cathy! The protagonist is clearly upper class, probably British, and the time just after WWII -- among a group of people who have not yet figured out how the war has changed things.
And Steven G submitted this:
Who I Am
It was a small thing, but the consequences brought us together at last.
I know you, damned enemy. This morning, from each side, we prayed; then donned our armor to enact the sins of war.
As the smoke clears, I stand victorious above your dying body. Your eyes search me and find the small cross I’m wearing, identical to yours.
Do you know who I am now? I’m the one who shot you. I’ve come to help you die, brother.
For I know who you are too, this morning.
You’re the one whose bullet killed me first.
Again, good use of voice, Steven G -- It's a joy to watch your writing grow stronger from week to week.
Next Week's Challenge:
Next week, for a change of pace, I thought we'd try something a little different. (And then we'll return to writing prompts.)
You may recall that a couple of weeks ago I took some quizzes on the internet and discovered that my two real strengths are Broadway musicals and profanity. Which got me to thinking about how much fun it would be to write profane showtunes (if I were at all musical, which I'm NOT. I called my sister the other night and sang "Happy birthday" and she said, "You were on key that time!" with way more surprise than was called for.) Anyway, this week's assignment is to submit the (rude, crude or profane) title of a showtune by midnight Wednesday, Eastern Daylight time.
Here's where the challenge comes in: I will take all the submissions and weave them into a proposed plot structure and next Friday I'll publish the outline, complete with song titles for "Blogger: The Musical"
To get your creative juices flowing, I'll propose a couple of song titles:
A couple of things:
1) Please don't get me kicked off Blogger
2) Try to create titles that are in some way related to the pastime of blogging.
Disclaimer: The Raisin Chronicles has never been designed to appeal to the younger crowd, but I suspect next Friday could set a new low for inappropriate, so if your 12-year-old has gotten into the habit of coming here to check out the occasional video, I strongly recommend parental guidance!