There are a lot of interesting genres, archetypes, & storytelling devices out there, some of which aren’t very well-known. Here and there, one week and then another, I’d like to describe some of the ones that I’ve grown very fond of, but which don’t seem to be well-known. Hopefully they’ll be new to you, and maybe even spark an idea.
An archetype was first described by Kate Winter. It is a particular kind of Heroine’s Journey (which we’ll tackle in another week altogether) which has its origins in mythology but has really come into its own only in modern times.
Kate Winter’s website does such an excellent job of describing the archetype that I’ll just direct you to the info page on her blog rather than copy-paste it here. Fly, my readers!
The Maiden’s Tragedy
Kate Winter mentions at the end of that page another kind of story, described by Walter Burkett in Creation of the Sacred. While the previous link will bring you his book, which discusses the Maiden’s Tragedy at great length and in much detail, in summary the story contains the following “motifemes”
Meaning “artist-novel,” a type of bildungsroman that is specifically about an artist, whether painter, musician, poet, or another kind of creator. Usually the artist is on the threshold of or presently in the process of becoming proficient, depicting “the course of an artist undergoing an evolution from nascent stirrings to full artistic voice,” but may also depict established artists in their later years.
There is much movement, both metaphorical/ideal and physical. Usually this is to a state/place of greater freedom. Their success comes, but only at a price. A single work of art may be the focus of the story.
The story is typically aware of class conflict and will set the character at odds with the values of society, especially those possessed by the powerful. It has a tone of rebellion and ends with “arrogant rejection of the commonplace life.”
Within the subgenre there is a further group, following the fall rather than the rise of an artist.
From eNotes, we learn the following:
“The künstlerroman form has become a popular method of disseminating an author’s own concerns about finding themselves as both artist and human being… If an author choose to do a künstlerroman, it oftentimes comes early in their literary career, perhaps as a result of their recent struggles to succeed as writers… Künstlerromane generally reflect the moral battle of writers questioning their appropriate standing as objective artist.”
The page goes on to further elaborate on how a künstlerroman often serves as a mirror or proxy of the creator and zir concerns, even more so than is usual for a work, ending thus: “In essence, the künstlerroman is often a therapeutic exercise in self-exploration for a writer: Who am I, how did I come to be here, and finally, was the result worth what I’ve given to achieve it? Not necessarily written with the intent for concrete answers, the künstlerroman still seeks a better understanding of the value and suffering inherent in the eternal struggle to create.”
Oh man. Where to start? I feel like the Wikipedia article says it all, but it’s my job to crunch it down into a nutshell. Quantum fiction is an attempt to create, not quite new plots, but a new way of telling those plots. A new way of storytelling, predicated on quantum mechanics.
But what does that mean in practice? Quoting liberally from the article, let’s distill quantum fiction into some bullet points.
As the list demonstrates, quantum fiction is defined less by what it is about than the way in which the “about” is told.
It’s… a strange thing. And I encourage you to read the article if you haven’t done so already. It’s a lengthy read but it’s worth it. Is quantum fiction the future? I’m not sure. But can it have things to say, that can’t be said in a traditional format? I think so.
Your turn: What are some other genres, &C that aren’t as well-known as you feel they should be?
R. Donald James Gauvreau maintains a blog at www.whitemarbleblock.blogspot.com, where he regularly posts story ideas, free fiction, and other goodies, including a free guide to comparative mythology that was written specifically with worldbuilding in mind.
He is probably not a spider.