Beginning at 4 PM
28 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ
Diana Rodriguez Wallach, author of the Anastasia Phoenix series, will be doing two panel discussions during B-fest* on Sept. 23rd! B-Fest is a celebration of YA Literature at Barnes & Noble stores across the country, so join the fun and support your local YA authors!
First, she will be at the B&N in Marlton, NJ at 1pm with Diana Gallagher. Then, she will be at the B&N in Rittenhouse at 6pm. She invites you to say hello!
Diana will also be doing a YA panel* on Oct. 10 at the Blue Marble Bookstore in Mt. Airy, with authors Blair Thornburgh and Jennifer Eaton.
*These are not SCBWI-sponsored events*
When: Tuesday, October 10 at 1:00
Where: Pour Richards in Devon (36 Berkley Road, Devon, PA 19333 – across from the Whole Foods Market). Click here for address, hours and map.
Who: Anybody interested in writing, illustrating, meeting, and greeting!
RSVP: If you can come, please drop Heather Stigall an e-mail at HeatherStigallCM@aol.com
See you there!
Registration will only be open for five more days – til Monday, September 4th – for our fabulous 2017 Illustrator Day on September 9. There are still a few spots left, so hop on over to the registration page to claim yours!
See rarely seen original illustration artwork from famous illustrators in Christopher Brown’s collection! Meet art director Sarah Hokanson, agent James Burns, Illustrator Jonathan Bean and Phila Free Library Children’s Collection Curator Christopher Brown. Join us for portfolio reviews, presentations, and peer portfolios!
SCBWI Eastern PA Annual Illustrator Day
comes back to Center City for a day of presentations, discussion and portfolio reviews
Saturday September 9, 2017
Jonathan Bean, Illustrator; Sarah Hokanson, Art Director;
James Burns, Agent & Christopher Brown, Curator, Children’s Literature Research Collection
at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
For details, see links to faculty, pre-workshop assignment, schedule, etc. (Pale lilac tabs above purple at top right on menu bar)
The Free Library is minutes from 30th Street Station and Suburban Station.
Various parking lots are located nearby.
Members: $125 | Non members: $150 | Students: $127 (art college students)
Members, remember to log on to SCBWI through your member page to get the member rate.
Lunch is included in registration. Please see lunch option details before completing registration.
When you start working on a story idea, categorizing it into a specific genre isn’t typically on your list of things to do. But when you go to craft a query letter, you’ll definitely need to place your work into a genre.
In Part 1 of this post, I defined some of the most common MG and YA genres, as well as a few of the tricky terms under the speculative umbrella. Today, I’ll wrap up with science fiction and its subgenres, as well as dystopian, mysteries, thrillers, and a few other confusing terms.
Let’s get to it!
As a recap, here is the definition for speculative:
Speculative: This broad genre is an umbrella term that includes fantasy, horror, science fiction, and dystopian fiction—essentially, stories focused on speculative elements. Below are definitions for science fiction and dystopian:
Science Fiction: Sci-fi deals with stories that apply the science and technology of the future. Theories are often based in fact and use scientific principles in the realm of possibility, but bend the rules to offer alternate worlds and possibilities (such as time travel or teleportation). The setting is usually in the future, and may be on another planet. Plots are typically about the impact of science and technology on the human experience, but characters might include mutants, aliens, androids, cyborgs, and other techno-based robots, and they may have special abilities, such as telekinesis, mind control, and the like. Like fantasy, there are many subgenres of science fiction, including:
Dystopian: The opposite of utopia, these stories are usually set in a future world with no government, or an authoritarian-type government or ruler that takes away the liberties of the people. Characters are pitted against their circumstances while fighting the problems within their society. Dystopias can serve as warnings about the current state of affairs, but also contain the human element of losing your individual freedoms.
Steampunk: This subgenre of SF is a specific type of alternate history where people of the past, usually in the Victorian era (though it isn’t a rule), are able to use 20th century technology, such as steam-powered and clockwork inventions. Technology may be fictional or real, but it provides characters with access to machinery that did not truly exist during their time. Vivid with description, a lot of time goes into describing machines and fashion, but the plots are often adventure-based.
Magical Realism: This genre isn’t easily categorized, but generally features stories where fantastical happenings are not only possible, but are weaved into everyday occurrences. Miraculous events are treated as matter-of-fact, so events speed along without much explanation because they are positioned as nothing fantastical. You might find yourself asking what just happened because there is no sign of magic or a big character reaction. Magical realism books are meant to invoke a sense of wonder, and contradict what’s possible and impossible.
Mystery: This genre is pretty self-explanatory, but it includes a number of subgenres. First off, a mystery is defined by an event or crime that occurs, and you don’t know the why behind the event, or who the killer/antagonist is until the end. The plot primarily focuses on solving the puzzle and/or figuring out who committed the crime. Mysteries may also include an element of suspense, where you know who committed the crime, but the goal is to experience your protagonist’s struggle to escape danger. While there are upwards of ten to twenty subgenres for mystery, some of the most common include:
Cozy Mystery: A mystery without excessive violence or offensive material, and can be comical as an amateur sleuth solves the crime. The case drives the plot, but also focuses on the protagonist’s life, including family, friends, or their hobby.
Thriller: A thriller generally includes higher stakes and more danger than a mystery, plus twists and turns to keep you guessing. The pace is fast and the plot must be tight, but evoking emotions in your reader is also a high priority. They want to be thrilled, hence the name of the genre.
Psychological Thriller: This subgenre focuses deeply on the character’s emotions and mental state while also providing mystery and suspense. The conflict puts emotional and psychological stress on the protagonist, who often has to use their mental resources to solve the crime or outwit the antagonist. mind games, deception, and manipulation are key features to the plot.
Lastly, here are a few terms that don’t revolve around genre, but might still guide you in defining your work.
High Concept: High concept is a term that doesn’t represent a genre, but a type of book. Agents typically say they want high-concept work when they’re seeking a book that can be captured in just a title and a brief tagline—and from that description, readers will immediately be interested. In my research, I found this link to a definition from Nathan Bransford, which provides a good overview for further understanding.
Commercial Fiction: Commercial fiction is a term that’s used to describe books that are written with a wide audience in mind, and place plot above all else. Theme and character development aren’t as important as the action; therefore, you won’t get much backstory or emphasis on how a character is changing. The ending is closed and doesn’t open up larger questions about life or humanity. Mysteries, thrillers, and romance novels can be described as commercial fiction.
Literary Fiction: This is another term that doesn’t specifically represent genre (when it comes to YA and MG), but a type of novel. Literary fiction tends to be more thematic and focuses on the inner workings of a character’s mind and their motivation, which puts the emphasis on character arc over plot. The writing style is typically more poetic and lyrical, with a focus on beautifully crafted language and emotions.
Upmarket Fiction: This term is used to represent books that fall between commercial and literary fiction—meaning that they are tightly plotted, but still have a strong voice with emphasis on language and writing, and touch on themes and emotions while making you turn the pages to see what happens next.
If you’d like some examples, this infographic from agent Carly Watters is incredibly helpful to define the differences between commercial, literary, and upmarket.
Thanks for joining me over the last two weeks as we explored genre! I hope you’ll be able to approach your query letter and pitch with more confidence.
We will offer a variation on the usual first-page session. Poems are to be sent in advance. Paula will read each one and make notes on the page. At the workshop, she’ll pull pages from a hat (or bucket or barrel?!) and give two comments: her first impression on reading the poem and her additional thoughts after re-readings. Guidelines will be e-mailed to participants after registration.
Paula Morrow began reading and memorizing poetry for pleasure as a young child and never stopped. For her PhD in American Literature, poet F. D. Reeve graciously gave her access to his personal archives at his home in Vermont. She returned for his 80th birthday party and again to give him a bound copy of her finished dissertation.
Currently the editor of Highlights Hello! magazine, she was formerly an Executive Editor at Cricket Magazine Group, where she edited Ladybug, launched Babybug, and also edited picture books and chapter books for Cricket Books. Paula lives in Mt Airy, MD, within walking distance of her public library.