Fear, focus, and the future. Here, C.M. Humphries writes about whatever.
Over the last week, I searched for the reason the term "genre fiction" pruned the face of academia. What could be so vastly different between literary and genre fiction that people could be offended by the notion of writing the latter? When I asked some of my peers if they read genre fiction, some of them had to whisper to me that they did, and of course, they couldn't finish their answers without chuckling and adding, "it's a guilty pleasure" or "I don't normally read that kind of stuff."
Originally, I thought the main difference between the two types of fiction had to lie in either content or author background. But as it turns out, many of genre's best writers are just a credible as the elite literary world. Try good ol' Stephen King. Or Dan Brown.
Soon I begin to wonder if the difference was strictly content. But as I discussed in the previous blog, some literary works hold the very same conventions found in genres such as horror, thriller, psychological, suspense, etc. War of the Worlds, for example.
So if not content or author, then what? Here are the ubiquitous opinions of genre fiction--the negative ones, I should say:
1. Genre fiction is poorly written.
2. Genre fiction is highly unoriginal.
3. Genre fiction adds nothing educational standards.
Let's tackle number one. I will agree that some genre fiction is poorly written. Okay, okay. A lot of it is poorly written. But who will deny Stephen King as being a word-slinger. Or how about the double-dipper Edgar Allen Poe?
Continuing on with the example or horror fiction, consider Johnathan Carroll. The hyper-fiction writer has seemingly dismissed any title of literary or genre altogether, even though he could clearly fall into either. Point being: Carroll certainly writes in the realm of horror and paranormal, but can be judged by literary guidelines--that is, what it takes to be considered "well-written." Although there is no one set of literary stands for "good writing", I like to consider these, especially the very first rule of thumb.
The second guideline in the aforementioned link is also something be considered. Tired plots. So genre fiction is unoriginal, eh? There's no need for research here; this is merely opinion. I cannot begin to stress how many literary plots led a book to becoming my pillow. Likewise, there have been atrocious story-lines in genre fiction stories. Bad writing happens (like my blog, for example) and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
If there's anything I can add to the notion of unoriginal works, it is that many genre forms are experimental in nature and often escape the confines of reality. Something writer's and reader's both believe in is realistic fiction is better. It's literary even. Maybe this is just my personal mindset, but when I am through with the day, I'm sick of the real world. The stress, the obligations, the limitations, and the facades. All of it greatly bores me or brings me to tears some days. Can we all agree that sometimes it's nice to leave Planet Earth, or at least some of it's shackles. So what if a story ignores gravity, or ventures into the notion of skeletal arms reaching out of graves during a foggy night in the cemetery? So what if the characters teleport to everywhere, including the commode?
Take the film Citizen Kane, for example: Sure it's great to make social criticism and exercise your noodle in such a pessimistic, critical light, but I can't stand to watch that film every night. Every so often, I'll watch A Nightmare on Elm Street instead.
Whether or not a storyline is good is completely up to the reader. Moving along.
Genre adds nothing to educational standards. Is that so? Then explain this:
*So Stephen King gets removed from school libraries. But so did Sedaris and Hemmingway.*
Sure this blog has been anything but scientific, but at least it opens up the mind of the pretentious reader, one who cringes at the thought of anything "genre". However, most of this titling, is simply that. What's in a title anyway? And, hey, some people don't recognize the separation in fiction.
(Here's another question: Is fiction even worth discussing? Whether genre or literary, we're talking about lying aren't we? Yes, that's me being facetious. But Plato was serious about this.)
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.