Author Topic: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.  (Read 241073 times)  

Offline Duane Gundrum

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #75 on: January 05, 2014, 10:56:01 AM »
I won't speak for HezBa, but one of the downfalls I've experienced with some horror literature's endings is the very lack of rules concerning the supernatural and how to deal with it or face it. We all know the rules for vampires and zombies and werewolves, but what do you do when dealing with a ghost, for example? Call the Ghostbusters? The "rules" of Ghostbusters work for that particular franchise in no small part because they are comedic, but they don't carry over (or at least not well) to other stories and franchises.

This is one of the reasons I've felt some Japanese horror was so successful about a decade back and continues to be so in certain circles, because there are no rules, no way of coping with the supernatural. Ghost shows up, you're screwed, end of story. You can't fight it, can't run from it, can't banish it, etc. However, that does limit a writer's storytelling possibilities.

But I don't see why rules can't be constructed and then a world existing within those rules. I give an example of a really corny tv show, Ghost Whisperer. They established very defined rules for what ghosts were, how they worked, why they were there, and how to deal with them. Then they added onto it by creating season arcs around the extremes of those rules. If the show wasn't as corny with its main actress, it probably could have had its own Supernatural kind of following. But it definitely set rules to where we didn't have the Japanese equivalent of "nothing can be done here" like you mention.

I think what we're experiencing is a lack of world-building with some of the horror fiction out there, so that instead of creating interesting worlds where certain rules apply, we have a lot of one-shot stories where there isn't enough time to build a line of rules.

It might be interesting to come up with a world where horror exists AND THEN somehow attract the Kindle Worlds people around it so that more and more people could write within that world and help to solidify the rules.

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #76 on: January 05, 2014, 10:56:11 AM »
I don't think it is visuals, actually.  Here's the mini version of my rant.  Fantasy does well in both film AND novels and has plenty of both written and seen visuals.

What has killed the SF book market, in my opinion, is that we don't have enough things like space battles, larger than life heroes, sense of sheer wonder stuff, etc. That's changing now, with the self-publishing stuff opening up the genre again, but for a long time through the late 70's, 80's, 90's, and early 00's that wasn't true. There was the "new wave" of sf writers who turned away from the perceived "pulp" of the earlier genre books and went deeply self-referential, experimental, and cerebral in ways that don't really appeal to the general reading populace.  Science fiction for a long time has been a genre that if you read in it, you really have to read a lot and be educated in the genre.  If you look at where the popular, best-selling science fiction has been located on shelves for the last 20-30 years, it isn't in Science Fiction.  It's the Michael Crichtons and the James Rollins of the authorial world who are writing the popular SF which their publishers just call "adventure fiction" or "action/adventure" most of the time. They sell extremely well, use all kinds of tropes and cliches from science fiction, and just dodge the label because that label shoves you into a self-referential, incestuous ghetto these days (and if you really want to know what I'm talking about, join SFWA!).

So it isn't that space battles or alien invasions or time travel or apocalypses are boring to read about and way more fun to watch on the screen. It's that the people writing those things have snuck into other genre labels and ditched the tiny, murky pond of SF because they weren't welcome there by the people shouting "cliche!" "DONE!" "Boring!" "Derivative!"

When WOOL first broke big, there was a lot of grumbling in the SF trad trenches. Comparing it to Fallout, saying things like "but this has been done" "this is so derivative" "why can't people read something original", etc.  

In short, I think science fiction has shot itself in the guts over the last 30 or so years desperately trying to break new ground, be "original" and "experimental" and not actually hark to the things that make it awesome in the first place like sense of wonder, sense of discovery, crazy settings, exciting and exotic situations, and big-@ss, bad-@ass heroes/heroines.

One of the best parts of the indie revolution thing is that now we are getting more of that back, and seeing hits breaking out. I think it'll keep on going, and now we have the freedom to write that stuff and call it what it is, and change the face of the genre for the better.

/off soapbox

Offline psychotick

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #77 on: January 05, 2014, 10:56:40 AM »
Hi Guys,

CE Martin: but if the main element of your stuff is the romance aspect, then many Specfic readers and writers will be put off by it and consider it romance/erotica.


WrenRoberts: I don't think that's true at all.


Actually I think he's right. Not to dump on certain highly succesful books and films, but I love horror as well and truly hate Twilight. I truly enjoy a good vampire flick, and unfortunately got the impression that Twilight was one. Nearly an hour into the movie and trying not to hurl every time I saw that insipid teenager making eyes at shirtless and asking the age old question - "does he like me?", I finally understood that there was to be no neck biting. The blood and gore was missing, there was to be no fear or screaming. In short it wasn't a horror at all.

It may have vampires in it but that doesn't make it a vampire flick.

Now I may be a cold, loveless, teenager hating, red blooded male, but I've read sci fi, fantasy and horror since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and I really enjoy it. Sparkly vampires I loathe.

Cheers, Greg.
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Offline CoraBuhlert

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #78 on: January 05, 2014, 11:02:19 AM »
Can I come play as well? Cause I write SF and fantasy of the more character driven sort, though I write other genres - including the dreaded romance - as well. Speculative fiction was my first love, however.

As for what Sara/Old Ben/Gojira said, I did get a certain dismissive anti-romance vibe from some posts in this thread. And those of us who write speculative fiction with romantic elements are pretty sensitive to that sort of thing, because there still are way too many people who feel that writers speculative romance don't belong to the speculative fiction genre. Now paranormal romance, SF romance or romantic urban fantasy may not be everybody's cup of tea and that's okay, but IMO they absolutely are part of speculative fiction.

BTW, Sara, did you mean this post by Ann Aguirre? Cause that's not exactly an isolated attitude.

Good point that many of the popular indie promo methods don't work for speculative fiction. As a reader, I have never subscribed to newsletters like BookBub, since I get my book recommendations from genre blogs and sites.

Offline bmcox

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #79 on: January 05, 2014, 11:12:49 AM »
Can I come play as well? Cause I write SF and fantasy of the more character driven sort, though I write other genres - including the dreaded romance - as well. Speculative fiction was my first love, however.

As for what Sara/Old Ben/Gojira said, I did get a certain dismissive anti-romance vibe from some posts in this thread. And those of us who write speculative fiction with romantic elements are pretty sensitive to that sort of thing, because there still are way too many people who feel that writers speculative romance don't belong to the speculative fiction genre. Now paranormal romance, SF romance or romantic urban fantasy may not be everybody's cup of tea and that's okay, but IMO they absolutely are part of speculative fiction.

BTW, Sara, did you mean this post by Ann Aguirre? Cause that's not exactly an isolated attitude.

Good point that many of the popular indie promo methods don't work for speculative fiction. As a reader, I have never subscribed to newsletters like BookBub, since I get my book recommendations from genre blogs and sites.


While not an indie book, The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Novel by Karen Lord was selected by Goodreads readers as one of the top Sci-Fi books of the year and it's a Sci-Fi Romance or at least has a romantic plot that's at the center of the story.
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Offline psychotick

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #80 on: January 05, 2014, 11:26:29 AM »
Hi Cora,

I hope I'm not included in the dismissive element towards romance. I didn't intend to come across that way. It's just something that I would never intentionally watch or read and the problem with Twilight was that someone misnamed it as vampire causing me to. It's not.

Now if someone had marketed it more accurately as teenage paranormal romance or what have you, I would never have watched it and would never have known that I hated it.

Cheers, Greg.
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Offline wrenroberts

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #81 on: January 05, 2014, 11:27:43 AM »
Actually I think he's right. Not to dump on certain highly succesful books and films, but I love horror as well and truly hate Twilight. I truly enjoy a good vampire flick, and unfortunately got the impression that Twilight was one. Nearly an hour into the movie and trying not to hurl every time I saw that insipid teenager making eyes at shirtless and asking the age old question - "does he like me?", I finally understood that there was to be no neck biting. The blood and gore was missing, there was to be no fear or screaming. In short it wasn't a horror at all.

It may have vampires in it but that doesn't make it a vampire flick.

Now I may be a cold, loveless, teenager hating, red blooded male, but I've read sci fi, fantasy and horror since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and I really enjoy it. Sparkly vampires I loathe.

Wait, so let me get this straight. Any spec fiction with romantic elements is disqualified from being spec fiction because Twilight isn't horror? Nevermind that Twilight isn't horror, doesn't try to be horror, and doesn't want to be horror?

Heck of a strawman there.

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Offline Ken.Hagdal

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #82 on: January 05, 2014, 11:29:04 AM »
Actually I think he's right. Not to dump on certain highly succesful books and films, but I love horror as well and truly hate Twilight. I truly enjoy a good vampire flick, and unfortunately got the impression that Twilight was one.

I'm with you. There's a reason the label YA exists. And even when there's be some bonafide specfic in the books bearing the stamp, there still is a market segmentation that makes it a lot harder for those of us who write mainly for post-YA audiences to build a readership. Any writer with a good dose of romance or targeting teenagers just has to go on Wattpad, ring their bells and they'll have their first readers lining up within minutes.


Offline Ken.Hagdal

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #83 on: January 05, 2014, 11:35:56 AM »
Wait, so let me get this straight. Any spec fiction with romantic elements is disqualified from being spec fiction because Twilight isn't horror? Nevermind that Twilight isn't horror, doesn't try to be horror, and doesn't want to be horror?

Heck of a strawman there.

Like the OP, Greg didn't pass any judgment on romance or meant to define what's specfic or not. The point of the thread is to offer support to those of us who walk a more difficult path.

Offline SLGray

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #84 on: January 05, 2014, 11:37:00 AM »
Twilight is a "vampire flick". It has vampires. A large part of the movie (and the series) is -about- vampires and vampire society. It's not everyone's favorite type of vampire, but it's still a "vampire flick".

And now I -am- getting the dismissive, exclusionary vibe from some posts. We're trying to help each other out, right? Not cut other people down. Let's focus on that.

Offline psychotick

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #85 on: January 05, 2014, 11:40:09 AM »
Hi Wren,

No strawman at all. You can have romance elements in sci fi or horror and they can still be sci fi or horror. What you can't have is sci fi or horror elements in a romance and then call it sci fi or horror. That's the line that was crossed for me. And the film was marketed here in New Zealand as vampire. Grief there were damned posters of shirtless with his fangs out everywhere.

Cheers, Greg.



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Offline wrenroberts

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #86 on: January 05, 2014, 11:42:43 AM »
And now I -am- getting the dismissive, exclusionary vibe from some posts. We're trying to help each other out, right? Not cut other people down. Let's focus on that.

Seriously. Maybe we have such a problem getting our books out there because everyone's too busy squabbling about what belongs in their own precious genre and how dare someone define all these gross girlie books as being in that genre too?

Seriously, people. We need to get our [crap] together. It shouldn't turn into this conversation over what is or isn't spec fiction every. single. time.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 11:44:52 AM by wrenroberts »

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #87 on: January 05, 2014, 11:44:55 AM »
Why did this turn into a Twilight hater thread suddenly? Um...

I'm with SL Gray. Twilight is spec fic. It's fantasy, YA paranormal romance straight up. It's a vampire series. It has vampires. Who cares if they aren't Bram Stoker vampires? Writers can make up whatever they want. Just because you hate something doesn't mean it should be exiled from the genre it clearly falls under. Move on, peeps, seriously. This kind of "THAT thing don't belong in MY spec fic" is the thing that has helped to kill the popularity of science fiction right dead in so many ways. Why would we continue that exclusionism? It makes no sense to do so.

Offline burke_KB

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #88 on: January 05, 2014, 11:48:04 AM »
Is anyone here experienced with the google groups? I've never set one up, but the million words in 2014 thread lead to a google community, and it is pretty cool.

I'm not sure how to do it, but it would be nice to put genre information in an easier to search format.

Offline psychotick

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #89 on: January 05, 2014, 11:51:40 AM »
Hi,

And by the same token Catch 22 is a war story. Die Hard is a comedy. Thomas Covenant is a personal epic about a man with Hanson's disease.

Cheers, Greg.
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Offline Bruce Blake

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #90 on: January 05, 2014, 11:52:38 AM »
Hey everyone,

I write epic and urban fantasy in my novels, plus a little other stuff in my short stories (horror, sci-fi, etc).
The way I've always understood the 'definition' of the spec fiction genre is this: if the story cannot stand on its own without the spec fiction element in it, then it is indeed spec fiction. On the other hand, if that element is simply window dressing, then it probably falls into another genre.
Just my two cents...interpret how you like.

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Offline David J Normoyle

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #91 on: January 05, 2014, 12:03:59 PM »
I don't think it is visuals, actually.  Here's the mini version of my rant.  Fantasy does well in both film AND novels and has plenty of both written and seen visuals.

What has killed the SF book market, in my opinion, is that we don't have enough things like space battles, larger than life heroes, sense of sheer wonder stuff, etc. That's changing now, with the self-publishing stuff opening up the genre again, but for a long time through the late 70's, 80's, 90's, and early 00's that wasn't true. There was the "new wave" of sf writers who turned away from the perceived "pulp" of the earlier genre books and went deeply self-referential, experimental, and cerebral in ways that don't really appeal to the general reading populace.  Science fiction for a long time has been a genre that if you read in it, you really have to read a lot and be educated in the genre.  If you look at where the popular, best-selling science fiction has been located on shelves for the last 20-30 years, it isn't in Science Fiction.  It's the Michael Crichtons and the James Rollins of the authorial world who are writing the popular SF which their publishers just call "adventure fiction" or "action/adventure" most of the time. They sell extremely well, use all kinds of tropes and cliches from science fiction, and just dodge the label because that label shoves you into a self-referential, incestuous ghetto these days (and if you really want to know what I'm talking about, join SFWA!).

So it isn't that space battles or alien invasions or time travel or apocalypses are boring to read about and way more fun to watch on the screen. It's that the people writing those things have snuck into other genre labels and ditched the tiny, murky pond of SF because they weren't welcome there by the people shouting "cliche!" "DONE!" "Boring!" "Derivative!"

When WOOL first broke big, there was a lot of grumbling in the SF trad trenches. Comparing it to Fallout, saying things like "but this has been done" "this is so derivative" "why can't people read something original", etc.  

In short, I think science fiction has shot itself in the guts over the last 30 or so years desperately trying to break new ground, be "original" and "experimental" and not actually hark to the things that make it awesome in the first place like sense of wonder, sense of discovery, crazy settings, exciting and exotic situations, and big-@ss, bad-@*ss heroes/heroines.

One of the best parts of the indie revolution thing is that now we are getting more of that back, and seeing hits breaking out. I think it'll keep on going, and now we have the freedom to write that stuff and call it what it is, and change the face of the genre for the better.

/off soapbox

Good post. I think science fiction takes it itself too seriously. Personally I have no interest in hard science fiction, and that seems to be all that the core science fiction writers want to consider proper science fiction. I consider myself to be mainly a fantasy/sci-fi reader, but up until recently fantasy was dominating my reading. I read lots of Asimov and the good Orson Scott Card books, but finding their successors seemed difficult. The bookshelves seemed mainly StarWars or StarTrek tie-ins or else hard sci-fi. I think that is changing. The YA dystopian genre has introduced some great new storylines/characters with Divergent/HungerGames/Legend and obviously Wool was a great accessible sci-fi read.

I want science fiction with more concentration on great fiction, and less on being pseudo science textbooks. (Not saying get rid of hard science fiction or anything, just that's one niche rather than the whole genre).



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Offline wrenroberts

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #92 on: January 05, 2014, 12:14:48 PM »
I want science fiction with more concentration on great fiction, and less on being pseudo science textbooks.

This, this, a thousand times this! Who cares if the science isn't 100% believable or explained? If it works for the story, then it just works.

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Offline Jay Allan

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #93 on: January 05, 2014, 12:28:36 PM »
I think science fiction got to a point where there was a huge divide between what publishers wanted to publish and what a lot of core SF readers wanted to read.  Consequently, I think the SF market is one of the strongest self-pub markets.  It's never going to be anywhere near the size of romance, but the market is very strong, and very receptive to self-pubbed works.

Offline P.J. Post

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #94 on: January 05, 2014, 12:29:12 PM »
I think part of the problem is how the sf/f genre has splintered.  It's like heavy metal.  There are numerous sub-genres, from doom metal, NWOBHM, thrash, speed, black, death, blackened death, symphonic, melodic, folk metal, melodic blackened death metal, new metal, progressive metal, metal-core, death-core, funk metal, industrial, neo-classical, punk metal, groove metal and traditional metal to name just a few.

Sheesh.  :)  And fans are VERY specific about which flavor they enjoy and often HATE the other genres that fall outside of their preferred listening zone.

SF/F has gone through a similar splintering.  Twilight IS spec fiction, sorry, but for better or worse it is.

So now we have Slaughterhouse 5, The Illustrated Man, Mysterious Island, War of the Worlds, A Princess of Mars and all of the derivations as well as sparkling vampires.  The paranormal element is something readers REALLY like - a lot, so writers write books for that market.

And the important thing to remember is that there are tons of fans for every sub-genre.  But fans of hard sci-fi are probably not going to like (or admit to liking) certain paranormal elements within spec-fic.

It's sad, but it's the truth.

As for romance, I always prefer a romantic element to stories, it makes them a little more real and layers the conflict beyond "are we going to be eaten by the giant <insert evil alien/monster/creature here>?

Even in Aliens, the movie, the 'romantic element' was Ripley's love for Newt - she was seeking redemption, love - a connection with her daughter.  This made the never ending chase scene at the 'end' WAY more compelling.

The point I'm making is that this splintering isn't a good or bad thing - it just is, and we need to recognize that so that we can let 'our' audience find 'our' books easier.

But a great book can transcend genre, just something to remember.

Um,..so there it is.   :)

Offline Chris P. O'Grady

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #95 on: January 05, 2014, 12:49:43 PM »
I say we make up our own Genres and just write  :P  I cant get enough Zombie! So where does that fit in here?

Offline SLGray

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #96 on: January 05, 2014, 12:54:05 PM »
Is anyone here experienced with the google groups? I've never set one up, but the million words in 2014 thread lead to a google community, and it is pretty cool.

I'm not sure how to do it, but it would be nice to put genre information in an easier to search format.

Do you mean a google group or a google doc?

A google doc might be a good thing to have with all the members of our rag-tag band and websites and whatnot, for our sakes. Something more visible to the public would be best for building a readership, though. Like a group blog or something. Everyone pick a day, we can pick a theme for the month and everyone writes something about that, and have books on the sidebar or ... I don't know exactly what all. But it could be fun. Or handy. Or both.

Offline RachelAukes

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #97 on: January 05, 2014, 12:57:48 PM »
I say we make up our own Genres and just write  :P  I cant get enough Zombie! So where does that fit in here?

I think most zombie is categorized under Horror or Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction, so it still fits solidly as spec fic.

I love zombie fic, too. Before I wrote straight spec fic, I wrote spec fic romance (mostly sci-fi rom) because it was easier to sell. I've learned a lot since then, after discovering the amazing Indie galaxy. :)


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Offline Chris P. O'Grady

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #98 on: January 05, 2014, 01:11:20 PM »
I think most zombie is categorized under Horror or Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction, so it still fits solidly as spec fic.

I love zombie fic, too. Before I wrote straight spec fic, I wrote spec fic romance (mostly sci-fi rom) because it was easier to sell. I've learned a lot since then, after discovering the amazing Indie galaxy. :)

Zombie fiction does serve a deep need! How about Post-Apocalyptic-Zombie-Thriller Science Fiction?

Offline horse_girl

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #99 on: January 05, 2014, 01:19:24 PM »
Just skimming through this thread. It's great to see a focus on the spec fic genres in one place.

My first completed (forever unpublished) novels were science fiction. It's what I've always loved. Fantasy came to me more through my husband (his primary reading choice).

As far as romance goes, there is a difference between true romance (with spec fic elements/settings) versus romantic spec fic. If you notice, romance focuses more on the drama of the love story (regardless of setting) while spec fic focuses less on any romantic interludes and more on other plot elements. I'll never forget sitting in on one of Michael Stackpole's talks at Gen Con years ago, when he mentioned that the strongest factor for capturing readers is tied to romantic/sexual tension. And that was from his and other writers' experiences. Readers asked more about certain characters in romantic situations than anything else, he said.

So, please don't argue about romance not being part of spec fic. Human relationships are part of the human condition, and isn't exploring that from outside of our lowly, everyday limited-by-the-real-world existence the biggest appeal of spec fic?

Hi, btw, I also write romantic YA spec fic to dark fantasy and hard science fiction. My attempt at romance has had review comments about how developed the other world is, something that's not common in the romance sub-genres.
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