The Genre of Invisible Boundaries

Orrey Steampunk Assemblage by urbandonIt’s called creative writing for a reason, right?  A writer should be able to compose freely whatever spontaneous scenarios come to his/ her mind, particularly in genres of fantasy and science fiction.  Let’s be honest with ourselves, this is not really the case.  How often have students run into the problem with a teacher in wanting to write fantasy but have been talked down from it?  Perhaps it should be called vapid writing, instead.

Indeed, it seems that we follow invisible wires that separate us from the final frontier and beyond.  There is a valid point in that ideas should have some ground to reality, but perhaps that is merely our uneasiness with ambiguity.  It’s like floating in water, in darkness, with no reference point for a guide and your mind wonders.  We feel uncomfortable because old ideas transpire into something new and compelling.  There are ideas that penetrate our minds though we would never utter a word or write a single letter for all that it is worth because we remain constrained by society’s fear of the unknown.

Take for instance the idea of the steam punk sub-genre that is often associated with settings in the far past, such as the Victorian era, while containing visions of how the future would have been conceived.  In some part of our mind, this combination makes sense: we can accept that there is some trigger of reality and thus we associate steam-punk with either setting.  However, try to combine steam punk with a different genre or setting, say something like Middle Earth or anything with wizards and the world seems to implode on us.  The concept of steam punk is limited to its conception in the late 1980s because it is mostly associated with history and oddly configured technology.  We can see fantasy mix with steam punk in more of manga situations rather than in novels.  Why?  Because we cannot cross that comfortable line of what can be combined and what cannot, what is appropriate and what crosses the invisible boundary.

Next time you set down to write, let your mind do the work, let creativity drip from the pen and don’t hesitate to make even the most absurd situations or characters.  After all, creativity is the absence of limitations.


4 thoughts on “The Genre of Invisible Boundaries

  1. I think sometimes the question is asked too often of what sort of writer you are. We seem to have a modern obsession with specialization. Schools don’t want kids taking band and art, playing football and basketball. They want them to concentrate on one thing. They want them to do one thing.

    It’s really a shame. If Bradbury had stuck to science fiction, we wouldn’t have Dandelion Wine. Stephen King wouldn’t have written The Body if he stuck to straight horror. Joyce Carol Oates has written many types of books. We need to cross genres more. It shouldn’t be horror writing, science fiction writing, or fantasy writing. It should be good writing.

    That is what writing teachers should really worry about. Let the student write what he wants, as long as he uses good technique in the process.

    • Jack,

      That is very true! It shouldn’t matter so long as the writing is splendid with great use of technique. We seem to see that in acting and all other places of creative outlets–people are practically cemented into their roles. Thanks for sharing your idea!


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