I’ve had many questions on the genre of Speculative Fiction lately. Mainly because I recently changed how I classified my own completed middle grade novel. From the very beginning, I’ve thought the story I was writing was considered contemporary middle grade, with the category being Middle Grade and the genre being Contemporary (or realistic) fiction. Um, I was wrong. Yikes. I’ve been writing this story for the past two years. How could I have messed it up? Rookie mistake, I guess.
Or maybe not.
Contemporary fiction is a story that is true to life or could happen in real life. Well, that describes my story. Most of the events I’ve written are true to life and some could happen in real life. However, my story is set fifty years in the future. Although many events in the story happen the way they do now, many things do not, because we haven’t found (or invented) a way for these things to happen.
Hmm. So that means my story is not contemporary. Too many of the things do not happen in real life today. They could in the future, but the future is not now.
Speculative Fiction speculates about worlds that are unlike the real world in various ways. If something in a story asks What if then it usually can be categorized as speculative fiction. Many times a speculative fiction story will have elements of science in them—often offering events or things that might be scientifically possible one day in the future.
Speculative Fiction has become an umbrella genre with fantasy, science fiction, and horror falling under it. If your story does not neatly fit into one of those other genres, it may be wise to categorize it as Speculative.
I had thought that because my story is not science fiction (nothing like Star Trek) and not Fantasy (not much like Harry Potter- no magical creatures) that it would be Contemporary. However, my story does have crazy inventions and a creative world that would be incredibly cool if it were a real place. I asked the question What if a million times as I wrote the story. The events and inventions make sense in the world I’ve created because I set it fifty years in the future. So even though my story is not futuristic, it does have light science fiction. And so now I know. My middle grade story is Speculative Fiction!
I would feel like such a rookie writer (making a dumb rookie mistake) if I wasn’t so excited to learn all this! I feel more understood somehow having a genre that truly gets my story. Does that even make sense?
I have a few new writer friends to thank for this. They recently looked at my story and pointed out that I was planning to market the story the wrong way. To pitch it as Realistic Fiction or Contemporary would have been a mistake. And so now I now!
It’s good to learn new things. It keeps us on our toes. We don’t miss as much that way! Do you have any novels that you’ve loved that might be classified as Speculative Fiction? One of my all time favorite middle grade novels, (Newberry Medal Winner) When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead is one. So is Divergent by Veronica Roth—a YA favorite of mine. So I guess my story is in good company. I obviously love these types of imaginative books!
Thanks for stopping by this week. I hope you’re checking in on Mondays now too. I’m chronicling my progress with my newest middle grade manuscript which also happens to be speculative fiction. Strange how that happens!
I hope you’re making amazing progress with your writing too. If you have any questions for me or topics you’d like me to cover, please let me know. I’m up for anything. Cheers!