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Has the Mash-up Novel Run its Course?

A mash-up novel (also called mashup or mashed-up novel), is a work of fiction which combines the text from pre-existing literature, often a classic work of fiction, with another genre, such as horror, into a single mashed-up narrative. Though the term itself wasn’t coined till about 2009, the first mash-up (of sorts) may have been "Move Under Ground" by Nick Mamatas, a 2004 novel combining the Beat style of Jack Kerouac with the cosmic horror of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. The first mash-up proper was Seth Grahame-Smith’s hugely successful 2009 novel, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". Subsequent mash-up novels include "Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters", "Little Women and Werewolves" and "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" (also by Grahame-Smith), the last of which was adapted into a film of the same name. A more recent phenomenon within the genre is the combination of more than two original works, or genres, as in the case of Robinson Crusoe (The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope), which combines the original novel with elements borrowed from the works of H.P. Lovecraft as well as the popular genre of werewolf fiction, and is accordingly attributed to three authors – Daniel Defoe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Peter Clines. Mash-up novels are, by their very nature, derivative and lacking in creative substance … or am I being hypercritical? Is it all just a cheap marketing gimmick that’s doomed to die from lack of originality… or does the mash-up have potential creative legs to keep it running?

  • You knocked the nail on the head with this one. Often these books will coast along on the popularity of the source material and come off as a gimmick. – AGMacdonald 3 months ago
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  • I hope it isn't dying out! Maybe a more judicious choice of original source material could be considered - I think Jane Austen has been done to 'death', pardon the pun. – JudyPeters 3 months ago
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Whatever Happened to the Ordinary Kid Protagonist?

Children’s and young adult (YA) literature has exploded in recent decades, giving young people more reading options than ever. Additionally, young protagonists have more power than ever. Harry Potter is a wizard. Tris and Katniss from The Hunger Games are almost unstoppable heroines of dystopian societies. The Descendants protagonists are the magical offspring of Disney villains.

While these protagonists and their books are wonderful, they bring to mind a question: do today’s protagonists always need powers, magical and supernatural connections, or the high stakes of dystopia? Put more succinctly, do they always have to be "the chosen ones?" What does fiction for young people gain by putting protagonists in that position? Does it lose anything by not focusing on more common kid/teen issues? Or, do we actually have a good balance between powerful and ordinary protagonists in our current literature? Discuss using the above examples and any others that fit the topic.

  • This is definitely an interesting concept. As a writer, I find it's less and less common for regular protagonists to make an appearance, especially in teen fiction. I'm in the midst of writing a book with an ordinary protagonist, and the biggest comments I've gotten back on the beginning of the book is that the protagonist is normal, and that he shouldn't be. We've gotten into a tradition of extraordinary protagonists, and I think it's important to bring back the ordinary kid protagonist. – LilyaRider 3 months ago
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  • I'm also a writer, and one of the things I constantly have to remind myself of is, it's ultimately my story. Some critiques are valid and some are not. Calling a character "too normal" is not, IMHO, a valid critique. Now, if "normal" means "boring," as in undeveloped and flat, then that needs to be fixed. But personally, I miss normal protagonists. I miss the average kid or teen who stumbles into adventure, maybe didn't even want it, and struggles with what to do. I miss characters who can't do everything well, who make mistakes, who do something that doesn't involve saving the world. I wonder, in fact, if all these larger-than-life characters are making real kids feel like they aren't good enough. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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  • Patrick Ness wrote a book called 'The Rest of us Just Live Here', which is from the perspective of the 'ordinary kids' in a school full of heroes. It was quirky and thought provoking. Heroic child protagonists do seem to be the current trend, though. – JudyPeters 3 months ago
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  • I'm gonna have to investigate that book... :) – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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What is the greatest obstacle for feminist writer?

Analyze what themes and challenges a feminist writer might endure when creating fiction or nonfiction. How do they skillfully educate the masses while still creating a story to win over even the most misogynistic in society?

  • Great topic. I wonder if writing with a male nom de plume/pseudonym is still helpful. – Munjeera 5 months ago
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  • "Educate the masses" implies that feminism is always 'correct'. Perhaps in its core tenants, but the term has been somewhat co-opted today... I don't know if it's logically coherent to assume one's ideology is of ultimate educational authority? Like, perhaps from another's point of view the so-called masses need no education, and to them this is the ultimate truth. Point being: ideologies can never logically be 'true,' because morally-based (unscientific) truth is essentially subjective. – m-cubed 5 months ago
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  • m-cubed, you're misunderstanding the topic proposal if you think it is about saying one side is right. It is about educating people on a subject that they may not have otherwise been subjected to because of previous idealogical belief. Your words:"from another's point of view the so-called masses need no education, and to them this is the ultimate truth." Translation: Some people believe the acquisition of new knowledge or points of view is unimportant so therefore it should be. I simply disagree and I'd assume many people who write for this online magazine would too. Your comment makes the point as to why it needs to be written about.We can debate the philosophical meaning of truth all day and night, but the bottom line is feminism exists and is an important topic. It remains contemporaneous and relevant to many, many social movements today. Unsurprisingly, it has found its way into the literature we read. – JulieCMillay 5 months ago
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  • One of the major challenges is to present a plausible, or at least imaginable, alternative to patriarchy. I think Ursula Le Guin is a great example of a feminist writer who does just this in a way that is engaging and not preachy. – SFG 5 months ago
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  • I think it depends on how they identify: female, WOC, LGBTQIA+ and disabled feminist writers are often met with abuse/threats and ignorance... however, when a male (typically cisgender and white) feminist writer conveys similar messages, he isn't met with abuse (at least not to the extent she does), and is hailed as a champion of women's rights/the greater good. Watching that unfold can be daunting and prevent a feminist writer from wanting to publish their work. – stephameye 5 months ago
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  • I think the problem m-cubed has articulated about "educate the masses" relates to the idea of truth. For many years, the canon of literature was dominated by White, male Eurocentric men. Having said that, there were women who were accepted under a male pseudonym which reinforces patriarchy. Patriarchy and novels that support androcentric protagonists were always valued and seen as the only voice. With online writing though, we really have no idea who the writer is unless revealed. I think one way barriers have been reduced is by online access which is one reason I love theArtifice so much. – Munjeera 5 months ago
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  • "How do they skillfully educate the masses while still creating a story to win over even the most misogynistic in society?" Include believable and well-rounded female characters in your fiction - whether as a protagonist or as an antagonist write them as real people, reveal their humanity and show that women in fiction can be just as cool, or cruel, as the male characters. Show the misogynists that we all have an inate humanity, we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. Show them that men and women work better together as a team, that society can be farer and more equal - and that society will be all the better for it. – Peter Guy Blacklock 3 months ago
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  • 'Educating the masses' is a rather unfortunate choice of term, perhaps. No-one wants to read didactic literature in this day and age. – JudyPeters 3 months ago
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  • Ah, a highly interesting and timely topic! I can think of a few challenges right off the top of my head. It'll be fascinating to see what a writer comes up with. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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Lack of Mothers in Fairy Tales

Cinderella, Snow White, Belle. These are just a few of the heroines from traditional fairy tales that lack a maternal figure. Most often, the mother is deceased and the heroine must navigate the world without her guidance. What is the significance of this maternal absence? How has the lack of a loving, nurturing mother in traditional fairy tales enabled the story to progress? Or has the lack of maternal figure hindered the development of the heroine?

  • This would actually be a really fascinating topic. I have often wondered about the meaning behind maternal figures in fairy tales and their significance in real life, both throughout history and today. The literary analysis of this character attribute can be discussed in much detail. – SophIsticated 6 months ago
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  • It also seems that the only time an older female exists in a traditional fairy tale is when they are an antagonist, such as "the evil stepmother" or "wicked witch" trope. Maybe this is pointing to the fact that at the time the tales were written, youth, beauty, and innocence was more desirable in woman, and championed as marks of a 'good' woman, as opposed to old age and life experience, which automatically made you 'evil', if you were a woman. – Yanni 6 months ago
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  • This is such a great topic! I've been wondering this for a while and especially as of late what with all the new adaptations of classic fairytales :) – ChloeB 6 months ago
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  • This is such an interesting idea! Maybe that the heroine and theoretical strong mother figure would conflict? – tarawesson 6 months ago
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  • This is a really interesting idea! There's an article in the Atlantic about absent mothers in cartoons, so it seems like a very prevalent trope! – RachelFieldhouse 5 months ago
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  • Great idea! I think this issue really needs to be explored. It is present in super-heros and other modern fairy-tales, too.– Jeff MacLeod 4 months ago
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The main causes of John Grisham's success

I have always wondered why it was that John Grisham, within his genre, has come to such massive fame. Please do analyse the ways in which his work appeals to his target audience and his rise to success.

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    The Protagonists Of Murakami's Work

    The protagonists in Haruki Murakami’s works are usually simple, average individuals with routines are certain behavioral traits. In fact, the majority of his stories are built up around characters discussing their idle thoughts and activities to pass the time. By having these characters come across as "simple" and "average" we can understand their feelings with more depth as they are thrown into surreal, ridiculous situations. It can be said that, by making them "boring", we further sympathize and connect with them.

    • In a way, I don't see these average individuals as the protagonists though. They serve as the medium we see through, showing us a skewed characterisation of the true protagonist of his story. Eg. Sputnik Sweetheart = Sumire seen through 'K'; Norwegian Wood = Naoko and Midori seen through Toru; Wild Sheep Chase = Rat seen through and unnamed character. Each story has this average joe 'protagonist' that we can relate to yet instead of acting as a protagonist they serve as a sort of diegetic narrator. – Peneha 6 months ago
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    The terrifying relevance of Nevil Shire's On The Beach to 2017

    This book was written in the late 1950s as a dystopian and cautionary tale about the perils of all out nuclear war. Rereading it in 2017, explore the dystopian tropes of the book in the light of American relationships with North Korea, China, Russia, etc.

    • One small correction. Nevil Shute wrote 'On The Beach'. Otherwise, this should make an interesting topic to address, considering the lunacy of present day 'international' politics. Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of history? – Amyus 4 months ago
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    • Autocorrect 😫😫😫😫😫 – JudyPeters 4 months ago
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    The Future of Fantasy?

    Fantasy has remained a strong cultural presence from the days of Tolkein to now with Game of Thrones. Changes in the fantasy genre are unsurprising given an increased technological influence and shifts in societal attitudes. That begs the question: what is next for fantasy? Examples of current fantasy authors: Sarah J Maas (ACOWAR etc), V.E Schwab (Shades of Magic series) and others are definitely welcome (and even encouraged)!

    • One could possibly take a look on even indie fantasy films like say The Lost River and other such offbeat titles apart from the famous approved ones. – Vishnu Unnithan 4 months ago
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    • Traditionaly the Fantasy genre has been seen, and looked down on, as a primarily adolescent kid brother/sister of its more serious speculative counterparts, SciFi and Horror. Its audience was largely adolescent and its protagonists were cheifly adolescent - at least initially for most early fantasy tales were of the Bildungsroman or "coming of age" sub-genre. More adult works of fantasy didn't start appearing (mostly) till the later part of the 20th century and I think the future of fantasy has to be seen in this more adult light. Fantasy needs to "come of age" and tackle the more serious aspects and subjects of wider speculative fiction in the way that Science Fiction and Horror already do. – Harbinger451 3 months ago
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