Speculative fiction is the umbrella term given to genre fiction. Speculative fiction (or “Spec Fic” in our tags) has elements of fantasy, science-fiction, horror, and literary fiction. Usually a story will contain some combination of all the above. In speculative fiction, ghosts are a little more literal, environment changes are more severe, and the End of the World really is the end of the world.
There’s always an air of cheese if you say that you write genre fiction. Genre fiction gets a bad rap with the literary set. Friends think of hokey Star Trek episodes, 1950s movies with alien robots invading Earth, or pulp fiction novels with a busty blonde chained up by cannibals. It’s a high-brow reaction to what is considered low-brow art.
Alien robots and cannibals can be tasty fun. Speculative fiction digs a little deeper than pulp, giving these characters grounding. Under that robot’s giant iron breastplate, beats heart-shaped clockwork. Give him a human boy to befriend, set the military on his tail, and shape his humanity. The robot casing is just a shell.
Writing speculative fiction means that you focus on prose as well as plot. Similar to literary fiction, the narrative is carefully crafted and tooled. There’s a focus on the emotion, meaning, and substance. The writing in speculative fiction often walks close to poetry and purple prose (flowery and lots of descriptive adverbs). But, no matter how prosaic, speculative fiction is genre fiction in a fancier suit.
Dressing up is fun, so long as you don’t forget who you are. A fancy suit doesn’t change the person underneath it. Prose doesn’t change genre writing. And adding some magical elements to a strongly crafted literary story doesn’t diminish the shine of a well told tale.
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