7 emerging genres in fiction writing

via Daily Prompt: Sunny

There is a silent revolution taking shape right now, and it doesn’t involve guns and swords but something considered mightier: the pen (or its modern equivalent, the keyboard).

As novelist Henry Giles once said:

Silent, passive, and noiseless though they may be, books set in action countless multitudes, and change the order of nations.

In this case, it’s the literary world itself that is changing rapidly with new-fangled versions of fiction writing. Cli-fi, mythopoeia and fanfic, for instance. The enormously popular 50 Shades of Grey trilogy actually started out as vampire franchise Twilight-inspired fanfic. When its author EL James was signed on to publish it commercially, she altered character names and changed a few details.

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50 Shades of Grey started out as fan fiction inspired by vampire franchise Twilight. When author EL James was signed on to publish it commercially, she altered character names and changed a few details here and there

New writing styles give a much-needed adrenaline dose to the world of fiction that wasn’t evolving as quickly until recently.

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Minimalist writing pioneer Chuck Palahniuk. You may have heard of him as the guy who wrote Fight Club

Minimalism advocator and Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk said on his own website:

“A big reason why I started writing is I felt that fiction had stopped evolving. All other entertainments were getting better, constantly, as technology allowed. Movies. Video games. Music. And as their audiences became more sophisticated, these other media could experiment and risk trying new storytelling methods. The bright future is that readers are accepting more varied forms of stories. And books have the freedom to portray topics movies and music never could – because their success relies on attracting a huge broadcast audience. This combination of ‘sophisticated reader’ and ‘freedom’ will give future writers their advantage.”

Whenever a new literary term is coined, it’s a chance to observe not only the innovative authors but the readers as well who buy and discuss it. And as these exciting fiction styles gain traction, that discussion will only get louder.

1. MYTHOPOEIA

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Ashwin Sanghi

“Mythopoeia has taken off in the Indian diaspora because there has been a change in readership from a mature audience to a younger one. This lot has a desperate yearning to reconnect. They want to consume mythology but in a well packaged and easily digestible way.”

— Ashwin Sanghi,
author of The Rozabal Line,
Chanakya’s Chant and The Krishna Key

sita-warrior“The English language publishing industry in our country wasn’t market driven. The success of these new genres is a result of our increasing self-confidence as a nation. Now, publishers are more open to new fiction genres,” says Amish Tripathi, banker-turned-author of the popular Shiva Trilogy. His latest mythopoeia release is Sita – Warrior of Mithila, book II in the five-book Ram Chandra series.

This genre is the stuff of legend, literally. Mythopoeia is Greek for mythos-making. As the name suggests, it’s a narrative genre where a fictional mythology is created by the author. Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien first used the term as the title of one of his poems in order to explain and defend creative myth-making.

Mythopoeia is getting a fresh lease of life with popular book series like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, and A Song of Fire and Ice series by George RR Martin (turned into TV drama Game of Thrones).

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Indian authors aren’t far behind. Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi are mining our nation’s ancient epics to write thrillers and fantasy series.

What to read

The Shiva Trilogy books by Amish Tripathi; The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi, The Guardians of Karma by Mohan Vizhakat; Thundergod: The Ascendance of Indra by Rajiv G Menon; Once Upon an Elephant by Ashok Mathur

2. CLI-FI

Hand it to the growing concern over global warming; cli-fi is a hot trend in books. Short for climate fiction, cli-fi describes stories about the hazards of climate change. It’s a world where eco terrorists are the villains and impending environmental disasters are the order of the day.

The term cli-fi was coined by Taiwan-based blogger Danny Bloom in 2007 in a bid to market his e-book Polar City Red, about Alaskan climate refugees. The book bombed but cli-fi caught on.

In the recent past, renowned writers like Michael Crichton and Atonement author Ian McEwan have tackled the genre. McEwan wrote after the release of his cli-fi novel Solar, “I’m surprised there aren’t more such books. Climate change has clearly begun to have an impact on our lives already, on a small scale, on a private level and on a geopolitical level.”

 

Says Nathaniel Rich, author of new cli-fi novel Odds Against Tomorrow, “We will increasingly see more novels that incorporate ecological themes as more people begin, or are forced, to contemplate the catastrophic ways in which we have transformed the planet.”

What to read:

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood; State of Fear by Michael Crichton; Solar by Ian McEwan; and Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

3. BIZARRO

This genre was created by a group of small American press publishers in response to the increasing demand for good weird fiction and the growing number of authors who specialise in it. Simply put, bizarro is the genre of the weird. It is literature’s equivalent to the cult section at the DVD store.

Like those cult movies, bizarro strives not only to be strange and fascinating, but thought-provoking and fun to read. Imagine Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups, or Japanese animation directed by Hollywood filmmaker David Lynch.

shatnerquakeThere is a certain cartoon logic that, when applied to the real world, creates an unstable universe where the bizarre becomes the norm and absurdities are made flesh. Take for instance Jeff Burk’s Shatnerquake. The novel is about every character that Star Trek’s lead actor William Shatner has ever played entering our reality with one mission: to hunt down and destroy the real William Shatner!

What to read:

Shatnerquake by Jeff Burk; The Cannibals of Candyland by Carlton Mellick III; Felix and the Sacred Thor by James Steele; Angel Dust Apocalypse by Jeremy Robert Johnson

 

4. INTERACTIVE FICTION

Ever wished you could change the ending of a novel after you finished reading it? In the world of interactive fiction, you can. And not just the climax, you can change the way the story unfolds at every major turn.

Interactive fiction tells you the beginning of a story, and then puts you in command of how the story moves forward. The genre has been around since the mid-70s. Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure and Give Yourself Goosebumps series of children’s books? The medium is taking off again with the rise of e-books and gaming.

Current interactive fiction blurs the lines between the virtual and real worlds. Through embedded links, you can unlock ‘what if ‘ storylines, change the world by interacting with the author through a voting platform, or re-read key scenes from the perspective of different characters.

The best part is, there is no wrong way to read an interactive novel. With major publishers like Random House and DC launching interactive fiction platforms, this genre could be the next dimension of the reading experience.

What to read:

Blood of the Zombies by Ian Livingstone; Beer, Women and Bad Decisions by Shawn Harris; Photopia by Adam Cadre; Whom The Telling Changed by Aaron A Reed

 

5. MINIMALISM

A lesser-known genre in revival is minimalism thanks to its new guiding light, Chuck Palahniuk. Says the novelist:

“Minimalism seems closest to the sophisticated storytelling of movies. Movies have really educated contemporary audiences to be the most intelligent, sophisticated audiences in history. They no longer need to have the relationship between one scene and the next explained.”

Chuck Palahniuk

Post-modern minimalism is all about short sentences and a stripped-down, terse writing style. It mimics the way an average person would talk when relaying a story to someone else. Authors keep adjectives, adverbs and meaningless details to a minimum.

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burntInstead of providing every minute detail, the author gives a general context and allows the reader’s imagination to shape the story. One book in this genre is Burnt Tongues featuring minimalist short stories from 20 of Palahniuk’s online writing workshop students.

An exciting offshoot of modern minimalism is flash fiction, which is even shorter and so plot-driven that every word has the ‘plot’ as its only objective.

What to read:

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk (one of my favourite novels across genres, a must-read for aspiring writers); The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks; Automated Alice by Jeff Noon; 31 Songs by Nick Hornby

6. FANFIC

Short for fanfiction, fanfic is prose or poetry written by fans of a film or book, featuring the person’s favourite characters. The stories are posted online or published in a ‘fanzine’ (fan magazine). While fanfic did exist among science fiction junkies in the pre-internet days, the ability to share and discuss stories on the web has led to its explosion. You can find fanfic in any fandom, from popular franchises like epic fantasy Lord of the Rings to the obscure.

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Some fanfic authors have kept Sirius Black alive in their versions of Harry Potter

Most writers pick up the story from where the original left off or change things to their liking (for instance, some fans have kept Sirius Black alive in their versions of Harry Potter). The legitimacy of fanfic as a literary genre has been under debate. A slew of fanfic stories seeing the light of publishing day (chiefly 50 Shades of Grey that EL James began as vampire franchise Twilight-inspired fanfic) laid this doubt to rest.

7. GRAN-LIT

You’ve heard of chick-lit for women in their twenties. Gran-lit is a new genre that is out to prove that romance and passion aren’t the forte of just the young. In books with catchy titles such as The Hot Flash Club, Julie and Romeo, and The Red Hat Club, authors give reassurance that the middle-age and later years, while not without challenges and sorrows, can include zest, sunny adventure, and romance.

Gran-lit was coined after 2011 book Thursdays in the Park, a romance between two 60-somethings, became an e-book sensation and a bestselling novel. The author Hilary Boyd is a spunky 62-year-old herself. The tagline sums up Gran-lit. It goes: Does love always come with a sell-by date?

Hilary-Boyd“I wanted to write about what it was like to be a young-at-heart pensioner and a grandmother in the 21st century. Not a specs-toting granny, but a modern one, someone who still works, goes to the gym and dyes her eyebrows.”

– Hilary Boyd

What to read:

Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd; Loop Group by Larry McMurtry; The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love series by Joan Medlicott

by Kasmin Fernandes

(A version of this post was first published in Times Life by the Times of India Group)

You might also like:

If you’d like to be interviewed on my blog about your books, contact me with your details. The Unstuck blog is created as a platform for creative people, specially writers, to get unstuck and come into the light. To read some beautiful pieces on the “sunny” theme, check out these links:

  1. Slogging through the smog in Beijing – Science traveler
  2. Visiting Westworld – Bend branches
  3. A joy forever #scentsofsummerGiveaway – You are entering my mind
  4. Sunny – Dirty little daydreams
  5. 6 travel adventures to do in the Caribbean
  6. 7 reasons to grab the novel ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ – Perceptions unplugged
  7. 5 essential oils that bring in the sunshine – Bold aromatherapy
  8. Sunny days – Making the days count
  9. Hey sunshine – Brave Smart Bold
  10. The sunny side of life – Success inspirers’ world
  11. Sunny feline – The cat chronicles
  12. Teach saileach – Willow Room – Murtagh’s Meadow
  13. The wonder of birds – The Chicken Grandma
  14. Morning glory – Living in Crimson
  15. Predictable weather – Bad dad cartoons
  16. If you’re not chasing your goals, they aren’t important enough – Just in Kace
  17. Dark to sunny – Chronicles of an orange-haired woman
  18. Around the lake – Shower of blessings
  19. June’s Tune – Watch, wait and witness
  20. Wheels up – The Hockey Mom
  21. #32 When it rains… (waking up Jayla) – Cimmerian sentiment
  22. One day in the park – Notes to women
  23. Sunny disposition – One more lap
  24. Sunny – Healed of Cancer Angela McCauley
  25. These days actually exist – Live a thousand lifestyles
  26. Those phrases – Reactionary tales
  27. Sensory overload – Bird flight
  28. Story Part 2 – Sight11
  29. Wild and woolly Wednesdays – Dog tales
  30. My life before and after the dawn – Positive guider
  31. How Sunny’s momma became a calendar girl – The jittery goat
  32. What colour is your mood today? – Life as it happens to be
  33. The gift – My world within words
  34. The label – Autism in our nest
  35. Ed tech – Developing explorers
  36. Grizz – Jane’s journals
  37. Two miles high – A rocky mountain tail – Two travelin’ chicas
  38. Rainy day blues – Sarah Ackerman
  39. A new slider – Hot dogs and marmalade
  40. Sunny days up ahead – Flip flops every day
  41. That golden time – Random storyteller
  42. Sunny days – Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  43. 300 year drought – Jim Adams
  44. Random ramblings or is it? – Train of thoughts
  45. Overrated – Stumble upon serendipity
  46. Sunny side down – Kuma house
  47. Temperaments and their implications – Life blog
  48. My Fitbit died – Crossing Colorado
  49. Am I a Google addict? – Dramatisch Gemini
  50. A selfless life – Helzee
  51. Weather madness – Army of the fallen bikers
  52. Dealing with being laid off from work – Lady Lebz
  53. Sunny day photos at Longwood – Telling the truth
  54. Sunny – My word soup
  55. Afraid of differences – Carolyn Dennis Willingham
  56. I love a rainy day – My loud bipolar whispers
  57. Sunny ways of living – Revolving around life
  58. Indian summers – The musing monkey
  59. I just runaway – Sascha Darlington
  60. Sunny? – all life is yoga
  61. Roma Termini – Another global eater
  62. In the spotlight – Do what you wish
  63. It’s sunny inside too – Little light one
  64. Fallen – Azalea Frost
  65. Modern day wonderland
  66. A sunny day forecast – Kindergarten Knowledge
  67. Sunny defined in three words – Ryan Erickson
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18 thoughts on “7 emerging genres in fiction writing

  1. Often, I simply write and do not really know where my writings fits. This helped remind me that that writin – art in general – is not about adhering to preconceptions. Good stuff =]

      1. Recently I have enjoyed reading Lev Yilmaz (Sunny Side Down), Neil Gaiman (American Gods), and Ernest Cline (Ready Player One) but honestly I tend to draw a lot of inspiration from anime and video game lore.

  2. Great post! And thanks for a few more additions to my To Read Book list.

    Just want to note also that Margaret Atwood prefers her book Oryx and Crake to be classified as Speculative Fiction.

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