Responses

  1. Janoda (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Ryan! I liked the article, but I missed something about indie-authors, even though it is very, very close to self-publishing...

    This is a great website about it:
    http://www.indie-publishing-revolution.com

  2. Ryan A. Span (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Janoda: No disrespect intended in this post, but how do you arrive at the term 'very, very close to self-publishing'? It's the same thing. Regardless of how they do it and what they're doing it for, those who publish their own books are self-publishing. The people on that website you linked are no different from any other self-publishing writers; they're not even _moving_ the goalposts, they're just renaming them.

    From what I've read there, I don't think I agree with them at all. There's a shrill, defensive tone running through the 'articles', which are more like rants on why self-publishing is apparently the one true path for authors in the new world order. Publetariat at least gives reasonable and considered arguments for self-publishing, while this lot seems to spend a lot of time looking for straws to clutch.

    As a rule, the louder somebody shouts about their pet crusade, the less I'm inclined to trust them. And trying to rename their way out of the self-publishing corner only suggests they're secretly ashamed of what they're doing.

    Regards,
    Ryan

  3. Janoda (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    None offence taken whatsoever, no worries.
    I got there from publetariat, and from my memory they had some good articles on using your own POD service instead of using companies that use POD services.

    Which I thought was the difference between self-publishing and indie-authors, and which was the option I missed in your article. But maybe the difference is indeed to little, or does it go too much into the your own publishing company direction.

    About the tone of the website, I tend to read over that since English isn't my first language, and because I practised reading through tones on the internet...

  4. Alex McG (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    I have an idea for a column, Ryan, though I don't know if it steps outside your focus:

    The current state of education in "genre" fiction. I know (or think I do) that there are no true MFA programs in genre fiction, but there are MFA programs with classes in genre fiction, and many unaccredited programs in speculative fiction. I'd be interested to know if there are any recognizable trends in teaching genre fiction, and what the outlook might be for the future.

    Myth... Magic... Midterms...
    Children of the First
  5. Ryan A. Span (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Alex: That's a bit esoteric, I reckon, if not outside the scope of TPP. The main reason why I'll have to pass on it is because it would centre mainly around the US education system, and the total amount of time I've spent within American borders is one afternoon. As far as I'm aware, there is no formal education available at all in genre fiction in the UK.

    Regards,
    Ryan

  6. Frances Gonzalez (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @Alex McG -- Maybe I can help a little bit with the whole education angle... at least for undergrad in the U.S.

    From what I know, speculative fiction is not given its own MFA program because it's too specialized, and is considered part of the regular writing MFA. Basically, it's all writing -- and no matter what genre you write in, you still have to learn basic skills like characterization and editing. Plus most professors frown upon such early specialization in education, since you're supposed to be open about learning everything anyway.

    I know many professors that don't specialize in speculative fiction find it hard to critique. Some will allow it in workshops while others won't at all, mainly because it's difficult to workshop in class -- all the world-building necessary is hard to critique and revise. Most undergrads aren't skilled enough in world-building to express it in the usual short story length.

    I won't lie, there isn't a lot of respect for speculative fiction in the literary-education world, and the focus is more on realist literary fiction of the Raymond Carver stock. It's becoming accepted by student groups publishing in college magazines and some collleges, and more slowly by the actual learning establishment. Especially with the rising prevalence of magical realism, teachers are getting a little less hard-assed about what kind of fiction they're willing to read.

  7. Frances Gonzalez (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Ack, I veered off topic a bit... I'm not a morning person!

    Basically, speculative fiction falls within the writing MFA, and the idea of needing its own title is attributed to egoism. If you're in a writing MFA you're probably working on a book or a story collection -- so if it's speculative, that's fine and dandy. A book is easier to critique in terms of world building than it is for short stories. But the focus on standard literary fiction is still there, and you may still find difficulty finding professor mentors who specialize in it. At that point, it depends on what school you're in.

  8. Sora (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    This doesn't really have to do with MFA programs but my campus is getting a fantasy/sci-fi/speculative fiction teacher. At first I was thinking it was a good idea, but then I thought about it and wondered what a genre teacher could teach that we couldn't learn in a mainstream class?

  9. Dary (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    My degree is filled with genre-hating tutors! It's hilarious, because most of my class is filled with genre-based writers. The lecturers would rather you write an insightful piece about the Holocaust than anything fantasy or sci-fi.

    Even when I combined surrealist fantasy with Gonzo journalism, it wasn't good enough XD

  10. Alex McG (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    So Memoir, Children's literature, Literary Hypermedia, Travel Writing, and Musical Theater Writing are all more deserving of their own programs than Speculative Fiction?

    Even a degree in Creative Writing that allowed students to focus on Speculative Fiction would be cool.

    @_TheLighthouse: 1) I don't think graduate school constitutes "such early specialization" (P.S. an MFA is a terminal masters degree, not undergrad)

    2)SpecFic is not considered part of the normal writing program. You may not (typically) use it as a thesis nor may you use it for a writing sample for an application.

    3)

    Most undergrads aren't skilled enough in world-building to express it in the usual short story length.

    A) Not undergrad B) The point is to GET skilled, not to not teach something because the students can't already do it C) I think many undergrads can write specfic short stories. If they can't even come close, the program shouldn't admit them. D) SpecFic does not have to be short stories. There are plenty of novel programs.

    4)SpecFic is not fine and dandy with the vast majority of professors and programs. They don't like it.

    5)

    the idea of needing its own title is attributed to egoism.

    By whom? Does it not have its own intricacies and pitfalls? Is it then egoism to have separate programs for a Memoir MFA and a Creative Non-Fiction MFA?

    Myth... Magic... Midterms...
    Children of the First
  11. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @Sora Probably the best thing about having at least one prof that doesn't mind science fiction/fantasy is that at least you can write what you want to write about. You're right about learning the same stuff either way.

    That being said, I was much happier in my creative writing classes when I decided I would write what I wanted to despite the prof's lack of interest in genre fiction.

    Oddly enough, he liked what I'd written quite a bit. It wasn't so much that he suddenly found urban fantasy interesting as much as the fact that I'd written a time travel story that used local history (which he was interested in).

  12. Sora (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @Jim: Oh okay. Well it's just my school and my teachers who will put up with almost anything. Most people just wrote what they wanted. I couldn't tell you how many paranormal ghost stories we had this quarter. Having a teacher who doesn't mind fantasy/spec fic is different than having someone teach a class for it. I do agree students should have a little more freedom in what they want to write and teachers should be more open to different genres. In my experience (and mine is probably a unique and strange experience) it's the students that usually have a problem with critiquing genre fiction not really the teachers. I think the teachers are really just looking at the mechanics of the story not really the subject matter itself unless it is hindering the enhancement of the story in any way.

    Memoir, Children's literature, Literary Hypermedia, Travel Writing, and Musical Theater Writing aren't really genres moreso than different forms of writing that require a different set of skills.

    I'm not trying to bash anyone, but I can understand where you're coming from. What could someone who teaches spec fic/fantasy teach students that they couldn't learn in mainstream classes.

    @Alex: By whom? Does it not have its own intricacies and pitfalls? Is it then egoism to have separate programs for a Memoir MFA and a Creative Non-Fiction MFA

    Is this at the same school? If so, that's a little weird.

  13. Alex McG (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    How to relate the unreal to reality? How to convincingly construct a new world? I think studying SpecFic in particular could serve to inform other types of writing, specifically writing allegorically, or ways to approach grandiose issues of human condition without coming at it directly with a sledgehammer?

    (and yes, the Memoir MFA and Creative Non-Fiction ones were at the same school. Many of them, actually.)

    Personally, I think that SpecFic has enough to it to warrant specific study, but either way, it should be as acceptable as literature as, say, a romance. Sure there's trashy sciFi, and there's trashy romance and drama and thriller and whatever.

    Give SpecFic the Vote!!

    Edit: that was slightly incoherent... I'm very tired...

    Myth... Magic... Midterms...
    Children of the First
  14. Sora (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Hmmm. Memoir and Creative Non fiction... at the same school. Interesting.

    I agree with everything, specifically writing allegorically, or ways to approach grandiose issues of human condition without coming at it directly with a sledgehammer could be taught in a mainstream class as well. Which is probably why they haven't created a spec fic class or program yet. I'm sure the bigwigs at the colleges don't see the merit in world building and whatnot. I see it, but some of this stuff can be self taught which is probably why there isn't a program for it yet. I could probably benefit from a class in world building, that would be pretty cool actually. There's probably not a lot of professionals in the field that want to teach their craft. Not as much as mainstream probably.

  15. Ryan A. Span (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    How to relate the unreal to reality? How to convincingly construct a new world? I think studying SpecFic in particular could serve to inform other types of writing, specifically writing allegorically, or ways to approach grandiose issues of human condition without coming at it directly with a sledgehammer?

    Now these are questions I can try to answer. ;)

    Actually, I'd love to set up some kind of teaching program for spec fic, but I doubt it'd be M(F)A-accredited.

    Regards,
    Ryan

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