Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July 25th, 2021

Come under my umbrella, we all fit in here. Rain or shine, large or small, we all know what umbrellas are for.  In this case, we are looking to the other meaning for that which would otherwise protect us from the blazing sun or cool drenching rain, or perhaps raining grasshoppers. We are looking to something that encompasses in a different way. Something that includes different elements.

    .

    .

Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

     .

What is an umbrella term in writing? It is like a main plot with a bunch of subplots under it. It is a category of writing that includes multiple other categories.

But sometimes (often) you may see them treated as though that once single term is self-explanatory and all you need to know.

   .

    .

Cross Genre work (also called hybrid work): a genre umbrella term

When a submission call says they want “cross genre” work, it means exactly as it seems. They are looking for writing that blends elements and themes from two or more genres.

Perhaps you incorporated tragic comedy with science fiction and drama. Psychological realism with romance and a dash of horror.

What you are doing is, instead of focusing that science fiction on being only science fiction with elements exclusively of that genre, you are enhancing that story, creating more drama, investing the reader more in the story, building more intensity, and opening the world you created to more cliffhanging moments by upping the ante with more genres worked into it. Your main character has a sub-plot of a doomed romance the reader is rooting for them to resolve. This romance will invariably create tension as the lovers are pulled in different directions, perhaps forced to be pitted against each other, and your hero is forced to choose between the only seeming right choice or their love and happiness.

Just when your reader is thrown into that drama, there is another drama brewing. Your secondary character is ill and dying. Space sickness? Were they exposed to lethal levels of radiation? Or did that crew member who acts weird poison them? But wait, a billion years ago a massive asteroid slammed into a moon, shattering it, and sending a wave of debris hurtling through space and your crew is unknowingly about to find themselves in the midst of this moving debris field. The ship is damaged and one of the crew has to make the dangerous space-walk to repair something essential. They get out there to learn the debris that hit the ship is infested with terrifying creatures of a magnitude only found in horror. Like a parasite, they infest the whole ship and then the crew one by one. Their crippled ship is pulled into the gravity of a planet it passes too closely to and they crash on a planet to discover it inhabited by creatures and beings out of a fairy-tale storybook. Spellcasters with magical powers, dragons, and strange horses with a single horn like the narwhals.

   .

   .

Fiction: a genre umbrella term

Fiction is a singular genre, but it is also an umbrella term for a wide range of genres and hybrid or cross genres that are creative made up stories.

Your story could be fiction. A straight up straight forward piece of middle of the road do not stray off that narrow path into territories of other fiction genres, fiction only.

Fiction also describes any and every story of every genre which is a work of fiction. Romance, fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, drama, thriller; they and others all fall under the fiction umbrella.

    .

    .

Nonfiction: a genre umbrella term

Nonfiction is also an umbrella term for a wide range of genres and hybrid or cross genres. It is based on facts, real people, and real events.

The nonfiction umbrella includes academic texts; biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs; guides and how-to manuals, history, humor and commentary, journalism, philosophy and insight, self-help and instruction, and travel guides and travelogues.

And, my personal favorite, true crime.

    .

    .

Speculative Fiction

Another umbrella term is speculative fiction. What is that? Exactly as it suggests, to speculate. Be it fantasy, horror, or any other genre or hybrid of genres, if the setting is other than the real world, it is speculative fiction. You are asking the question, what if the world was this instead of that. Journey To The Center Of the Earth is speculative fiction. The Walking Dead comic series is speculative. There are no zombies at present in our real world. Sending people to live out their lives in a mining operation on another world, while it may become reality some day, at present is speculative. We are not there yet in our real world. Speculative does not have to mean it’s impossible to ever be real.

    .

    .

Writing is full of group terms.

If you are not sure what you have fits the definition, don’t be afraid to look for clarification. Never let yourself feel stupid or less than because you don’t think you fully understand something.

If a call wants speculative fiction, you best find out what kind of speculative fiction genres they look for. If they call for cross genre work, you can save yourself a lot of work formatting and submitting your story to something that isn’t a fit to the specific genre elements they prefer.

I’ve seen calls for submissions asking for speculative fiction with no other description. I’ve seen it referred to as if it’s a genre all in itself. That’s it. Speculative fiction. The same with cross genre work. That’s pretty broad.

I could submit any one of my stories to a call specifying just ‘speculative fiction’ in their callout. It won’t be a fit. My stories are speculative fiction, but they have a particular feel to them that doesn’t fit most publications. Even within the dark fiction genres, you need to know more about what speculative fiction genres they want.

Writing terminology is forever changing with the evolution of writing itself.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: