Monday, October 24, 2011

Character. Driven. Fiction.

I've seen a lot of talk about the distinction between genre and non-genre fiction. As a college student, I definitely felt as if genre fiction, my favorite to write, was looked down upon as un-intellectual, un-literary. But by and large, I simply think there are two kinds of fiction, one of which usually wins the literary awards, and one of which a lot of genre fiction tends to fit into. One kind of fiction says: "The world has broken you. What are you going to do about it?" (Broken Character fiction.) The other says: "This world is broken. What are you going to do about it?" (Broken World fiction.)

Yes, I think the vast majority of literary, awarded literature is fiction about characters whose circumstances have broken them in some special and interesting way--a way that then reflects upon some larger issue of the human condition. Most genre fiction (romance, mystery, Western, SF/F/H) is about normal (ish) people who must overcome some kind of external obstacles. People get pissy over the distinction between "character-driven" and "externally driven" literature, and they're right to be. Both kinds of fiction are about characters and their motivations. Both require insight into humanity, an examination of how people function when things go wrong. You can learn from both.

Do I think one kind is better than the other? No. But I do think Broken Character writing might take a little more skill. Why? Because being broken brings out what's worst in a person, and it's hard to create a character who is believably broken who isn't so annoying the reader throws the book out the window!

On a much lighter note, I will be at the World Fantasy Convention this weekend. If you'll be at the convention, too, and would like to meet up or buy me drinks (hey, a girl can try!), here is my schedule:
  • Thursday, 10pm. How to Survive the Coming Zombie Apocalypse. (Panel)
  • Saturday, 3 pm. Reading from The Way of the Wizard. (Group reading/party)
  • Saturday, 6 pm. Edge Book Launch. (Group reading/party) -- I'll be reading from Rigor Amortis, so be prepared for some raunch. Or squick. Or just plain fun.
  • Saturday, 8 pm. Inkpunks 1st Anniversary Party! (Group reading/party)--I'll be reading "Curvature of the Witch House," currently up at Innsmouth Magazine. But more importantly, there will be drinks! And snacks! And hot, hot door prizes!
  • Sunday, 10 am. Crossed Genres Group Reading. Ease out of your hangover as I read a teaser from "A Tiny Grayness in the Dark," which is in CG's forthcoming Subversion anthology.
Hope to see you in the forthcoming merriment!

10pm (Arrgh! Shouldn't I be DRINKING at 10pm?): How to Survive the Coming Zombie Apocalypse panel

3: The Way of the Wizard -- group reading/party
6: Edge Book Launch
8: Inkpunks group reading/party

10 am: Crossed Genres group reading

1 comment:

Miriam Forster said...

I kind of loved this post, especially the Broken Character/Broken World distinction. What a great way to look at it!

Have fun at the convention!