A few weeks ago, I posted an article about the different genres of crime fiction and suspense fiction. When I found this post, I thought it would helpful for those just beginning to write in the field of speculative fiction.
I learned from author Edie Melson at the Ohio Christian Writers Conference that the term “speculative fiction” is used more in the Christian fiction market, while “science fiction and fantasy” is used in the general market.
No matter what umbrella term you use, any writer needs to know what genre his work fits in best. As the author states at the end of the post, a writer should select one sub-genre so as not confuse readers. Not only will it make it easier to explain your work to agents and editors, it will help you keep focus during your editing so you will remember what’s most important to your story.
If you were anywhere near the path of the eclipse yesterday, I hope the weather and your circumstances allowed you to enjoy it. I wasn’t in the path of totality, so all I experienced as a slight darkening and cooling, like on an overcast day. The most notable difference were the crickets chirping like it was evening in the middle of the afternoon.
Eclipse for Crime Fiction
If I was using the eclipse for a setting, it would have to be a backdrop for something momentous. It’s too unusual an event for just mundane occurrences. A murder can take place, or the revelation and capture of a master criminal.
Speaking of crime, my husband noticed something at a business meeting yesterday. The meeting was held at a building with security at the entrance. The building emptied for people to view the eclipse at its height. Then everyone reentered the building. So many people came in at once that the security guards didn’t bother to check I.D.’s.
With that in mind, in a crime story, an employee can smuggle in accomplices when the crowds return to a busy office building after viewing the total or near-total eclipse. Then they commit their crime later in the day. Or have a crime planned for site in the path of totality when the criminals know employees will be outside for several minutes.
Eclipse for Speculative Fiction
Researching the myths surrounding eclipses might provide fertile ground for a story. The site timeanddate.com list many of them. Interestingly, most ancient cultures describe the eclipse in terms of some creature eating the sun.
I could write a story about a certain group of people whose special powers only work when they stand within the path of a total eclipse. They spend their lives traveling the world, from eclipse to eclipse, so they can use their powers, some for evil, some for good.
Or a villain is going to unleash some horrible power but can only accomplish it in the path of totality and if the eclipse is visible to him. The heroes know this. The day of the eclipse, the heroes and the villains watch the weather and race up and down the path trying to get into the perfect position.
I like the idea of this story a lot because I could work in the specific date and real locations that were in the path of totality. It would give a veneer of realism to a fantastic story. I also like the idea of the chase, and the characters racing around in numerous vehicles as the villain hunts for the right weather and the heroes hunt of the villain.
What ideas do you have for using the eclipse as a setting?
More than January, I feel like June is the start of new things, the month of great possibilities. With the end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation, the month signals throwing off our normal routines and preparing ourselves for something new.
June seems perfect for starting an adventure story, especially if your main character is a kid or a teen. The freedom from school seems to call for a story where something radically different or exciting happens to the main character. You can have the story take place over a summer, wrapping up before school starts and normal life takes over again.
Father’s Day is in June. It can be a setting for exploring male relationships within a family. Like I wrote in May for Mother’s Day, you can write a story, only set on Father’s Day over a number years, to show how the male characters change.
This year the summer solstice is on June 21. Many traditions are associated with this solar event, making it a perfect time for a story of speculative fiction or historical fiction. In the little bit of research I did, I read in The Summer Solsticeby Ellen Jackson that the Chumash of California and the Anasazi of New Mexico created ways to mark the sun on the solstice. She also tells an abbreviated version of a solstice story involving Maui, “a mythological hero of Polynesia.”
According to Farmer’s Almanac, the new year in ancient Egypt began on this day because the Nile started rising. Europe had many traditions to celebrate the day, the best known being the one immortalized by Shakespeare in a Midsummer Night’s Dream: fairies were out and about at this time.
With the coming of Christianity to Europe, the pagan celebrations were given new meaning because now they honored John the Baptist, St. John’s Day, on June 24. Still superstitions persisted. In The Folklore of American Holildays, if girls in North Carolina “pare an apple round and round without a break in the peeling and throw the peel over the left shoulder, it will form the initial or initials of your future husband.” On June 23, Midsummer’s Eve, in England “great bonfires were built” in which “people threw herbs, gathered by moonlight, as charms against witchcraft.”
June has such wonderful possibilities as a setting. Let the adventures begin!