A Word on Definitions

No progress on the revision today, as I expected. However, we did have a productive Third Person Press meeting tonight and discussed some rewrite requests.

I also began writing a page of extended guidelines for TPP. One thing that we have noticed with some regularity is that many writers do not understand what we mean when we talk about “speculative fiction.”  Our calls for submission have always included the further clarification that we are looking for “science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, and paranormal (for example, ghost stories).” Despite this, we still get quite a number of submissions that contain no speculative elements at all.

To address this problem, we’re adding this page of extended guidelines to the TPP site, and encouraging writers to read them before submitting. I know, I know. We will still get submissions that are not speculative. But the hope is that this will cut down on them to some extent.

I started in writing with a good will, but soon discovered why it’s so damn difficult to come up with a definition of speculative fiction that everyone agrees on–it’s even difficult to come up with one that serves our very narrow purpose. We’re not attempting to define the genre for everyone, just setting out what we are looking for vs. what we are not looking for, and even that’s hard. The field is so very broad, the sub-genres so very many, the possibilities so multitudinous, that one can’t include all the possible permutations. On the flip side, it’s also difficult to define what is not speculative fiction in such a way that we don’t accidentally preclude stories that we would like to see. The best I’ve come up with so far on that front is, “There is nothing in the story that steps outside the boundaries of accepted reality.” I think that might be too broad and too vague to be helpful.

I expect I will be working on this guidelines page through several drafts. Maybe I’ll have it done in time for our next project!

Revision Paranoia
Writing Log Update and Phase Two
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