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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-02-15 15:28
Subject: [writing] Jay Lake's Handy Guide to Genre Distinctions
Security: Public
Tags:funny, writing
I have found genre distinctions in fiction publishing to be sometimes confusing.

To aid others in their curiosity, and planning their reading lists, I present the following handy guide.

GenreDistinguishing Characteristics

General fictionNothing to explain

Literary fictionIf I have to explain, you wouldn't understand it anyway

MysteryExplain what happened

Thriller/TechnothrillerExplain how it happened

RomanceExplain who it happened to

WesternExplain what lily-livered varmint gone and done it

HorrorExplain what's about to happen

Science FictionExplain everything in technical detail

FantasyExplain everything in nonsensical detail

Magical RealismExplain nothing

SurrealismGo fishing for ice cream

Permission is granted for redistribution or reproduction under a noncommercial Creative Commons license. © 2003, 2010 Joseph E. Lake, Jr., writing as "Jay Lake".

Creative Commons License
"Jay Lake's Handy Guide to Genre Distinctions" by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. writing as "Jay Lake" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at jlake@jlake.com.

Post A Comment | 18 Comments | | Flag | Link

User: zxhrue
Date: 2010-02-15 23:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)


Go fishing for ice cream

but your forgot the bicycle
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User: crystalrmartin
Date: 2010-02-15 23:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I love it, especially Literary and Romance. I got a good chuckle out of this. You forgot

Paranormal Fiction Explain things that don't exist. ;)
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O'Mike aka  onyxhawke: art of storytelling
User: onyxhawke
Date: 2010-02-15 23:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:art of storytelling
Excellent Jay, Excellent!
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Johnny Eponymous
User: johnnyeponymous
Date: 2010-02-15 23:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You ever read my article where I compared genres to different sports.

Fantasy is The Olympics.
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Lawrence M. Schoen
User: klingonguy
Date: 2010-02-16 00:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
mmmmm, ice cream.
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2010-02-16 01:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I thought mysteries explained whodunnit.

Never mind...
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Wendy S. Delmater
User: safewrite
Date: 2010-02-16 01:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
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frostokovich: LeChat
User: frostokovich
Date: 2010-02-16 01:57 (UTC)
Subject: Explained...
Suddenly, everything is so clear.
Or to borrow from M. Swanwick, "A day without surrealism is like a horse's head in a vacuum."

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User: anghara
Date: 2010-02-16 02:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
HAH. nicely done.
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LynnF: penguin
User: otterdance
Date: 2010-02-16 03:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Fantasy Explain everything in nonsensical detail"

Yep, that pretty much describes my day.

Wonderful list!
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Max Kaehn: R'lyeh
User: slothman
Date: 2010-02-16 03:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hard Fantasy (e.g.: Tim Powers): Explain everything in mythological detail. (This suggested addition also under the identical Creative Commons license.)
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User: shelly_rae
Date: 2010-02-16 03:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, explain nothing is definitely my modus operendi. Of course I think of it as making the reader work.
Or perhaps I'm just lazy? :)
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User: katatomic
Date: 2010-02-16 05:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:ferret godmother
Waaaahhh! LOL! *snorf*
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AmmitBeast, The Dweller in Amenta: muse
User: ammitbeast
Date: 2010-02-16 06:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Damned awesome genre explanations, my good fellow.
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Jason Erik Lundberg
User: jlundberg
Date: 2010-02-16 13:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Mmmm, fish.

This seemed really familiar until I saw your copyright notice. Good to see it again. :)
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User: liliblackswan
Date: 2010-02-16 20:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Great observations. Now I know what to put in my next synopsis.
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The Green Knight: Bravo
User: green_knight
Date: 2010-02-16 21:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Although I'd say

Fantasy: Explains everything by magic.
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