This post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.
This month’s question — how are things in your world?
I’m doing OK. I tend to be a loner so I don’t miss people yet. And I have a big yard to walk around in. I’m lucky but I worry about my kids. We can’t find a lot of meat in the stores. Dairy products are in short supply but seem to be coming back. And–let me whisper this–my roots are starting to show. But, I have a hat I’ll start wearing if things don’t sort themselves out! Come back and visit next week. I’ll have a nice article on “Tips for writing remotely”.
How are you doing?
This is also the first day of #AtoZ. The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 articles on a themed topic. It’s supposed to be every day except Sundays during the month of April but last year, I found it way to busy and decided to post this year ‘about’ twice a month. Yes, it’ll take me a couple of years. Sigh. My topic, like the last two times I participated, will be literary genres. Today, I’m reposting all of my A genre posts but from here on, I’ll pick up where I am from my approach last year. I’m about up to O:
Stories that depict contemporary social realities and the lives and everyday activities of ordinary people.
- The setting should be early 20th Century America.
- The story should reflect city life and an American population that is more urban than rural.
- The plot should concern itself with the here and now.
- The redemption of the individual lays within the social world.
- It renders reality closely and in comprehensive detail, even at the expense of a well-made plot.
- The character is more important than action and plot.
- Complex ethical choices are often the subject.
- Class is important and American Realism has traditionally served the interests and aspirations of an insurgent middle class.
- The story avoids the sensational.
- Diction is natural vernacular, not heightened or poetic.
- A Modern Instance by William Howell
- The Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger
- Most novels by Mark Twain
- The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
- Summer by Edith Wharton
- Martin Eden by Jack London
- An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Alternative history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories in which one or more historical events occur differently from reality
- As you write this epic drama, don’t forget the small, everyday details that bond readers to your character and story.
- Recognize that some historical developments are probably inevitable. Leave those alone.
- Remember to include historical factors that were important at the time, even if they aren’t important to your story.
- Pay attention to the one changed event, but also all the events that led up to it.
- Don’t mix urban legends with actual history.
- Let the story follow where the altered history will support it, not necessarily where you want it to go.
- Remember to tell a great story, not just how you altered history.
- Don’t overdo the detail on your alternate world, thinking it will fascinate the reader. Only provide what supports the story.
- Ask ‘What if?’ This is fundamental to alternative fiction.
- 90% of alternate history novels deal with ‘What if Hitler won?’ Avoid this if possible.
- anything by Harry Turtledove
- The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
- The Alternation by Kingsley Amis
- Farthing by Jo Walton
- Transition by Iain M. Banks
- Fatherland by Robert Harris
- The Coming of the Quantum Cats by Frederik Pohl
Anthology: a published collection of poems or other pieces of writing written by one writer or many.
- Tie all stories together with a theme.
- Make all the stories individually significant.
- Establish an overarching style for the grammar/spelling of all stories, especially if they are from multiple authors. Do you use British or American spelling? Do you spell out ‘million’? What rules for capitalization and hyphenation are followed?
- Set a word count for stories, say, 3000-5000. This helps with consistency for readers.
- Expect each contributing author to participate in the marketing efforts, to their friends and social media.
- Make the revenue expectations clear so authors don’t expect what is impossible.
- 100 Great Poems of the Twentieth Century
- Skeleton Crewby Stephen King
- Best American Short Stories Heidi Pitlor, series editor
- Universe 1 edited by Terry Carr
- Hero Lost by #IWSG
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Winter 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning