26 March 2019

Three Act Structure

I'm taking a writing class now and we've been extensively discussing the three act structure. You know the one: Act 1 with exposition, an inciting incident, an act 1 climax leading into act 2, rising action and conflict/confrontation leading into act 3, and a climax and resolution/denouement. This structure is very common in commercial movies and novels. In fact, you can even use this structure within single chapters. (If you're not familiar, you can find lots of info about it on the internet.)

It also works great for short stories!

For all the people who love the three act structure, however, there are also many who dislike it. So, give it try--if you want! If you don't want to, don't. :)

Send us your stories with or without a three act structure!

19 March 2019

spec fic and family

As a writer, I'm trying to plot out a big new spec fic project. Among other things, I have to figure out who the protagonist's family members are and what their roles are. This made me realize speculative fiction has a long history of not including (bio) family members. Why?

I'm sure opinions differ on why this is, but here's my two cents:

  • History.
    • Back in the mists of time, speculative fiction was created for young people. Even today, the stereotype of spec fic readers is young people. Young people are less concerned with family than some other groups.
    • Much early spec fiction was of a shorter length and there's simply no room for a huge cast of characters. (Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, e.g. epic fantasy.)
  • Ideas. Speculative fiction is a literature of ideas be it a quest, fighting a monster, or inventing a new gadget. Experimenting with ideas, imagining what-ifs doesn't require relatives.
  • Individualism. Readers want to see unique protagonists act to solve their own immediate problems.

Found or chosen families are huge in spec fic, on the other hand. You need people to join you on your quests, etc.

So, going back to my idea from last week: trends. Is this anti-family paradigm on the decline? I think ...not.
What do you think?

I was reminded of the common phenomenon of long-long mothers and/or fathers coming back from the dead or whatever. <--This is common.

Send us your spec fic--with or without family.

12 March 2019

Fiction Trends

We've been doing Electric Spec long enough to be cognizant of fiction trends. Today, I'm going to discuss two separate issues: format and content.

In terms of format, fiction is shorter. Flash fiction is becoming more and more popular. I think this is technology-driven as we read on our phones, etc. Some authors are even able to write a story within the confines of twitter! Impressive! Closely related to this, fiction starts in media res, in the middle of things, even more than ever. Fiction has shorter sentences and paragraphs, as well--all related to technology changes. Consequently, as editors, we do look for stories that start quickly.
Another huge format issue is audio. Audio is gaining more and more of the fiction market. (We don't have any plans at Electric Spec to get into audio.)
Something that hasn't happened much yet but has been promised is: multi-media and/or interactive fiction. I do believe in the future, we will absorb our fiction differently. :)

In terms of content, there have been four main trends I've noticed in recent years:

  • Genre mashups. I believe this is driven by the success of indie publishing. No longer are authors constrained by the rules of big publishers. So, readers have gotten more and more used to mashups, until they're requesting them. At Electric Spec we love genre mashups!
  • Dystopia/grimdark fiction. Of course, dystopian fiction has been around a long time, but starting about two years ago we really started seeing more of it. (I'll leave the cause(s) of this pessimism to your imagination.) This type of fiction is very pessimistic.
  • Solar punk/hope punk fiction. Solar punk is basically fiction that's climate-friendly with green technology. Often it has African and/or Asian aesthetics, as well. The African/Asian influences are a result of Black Panther's massive success, in my opinion. Yay! Usually solar punk is also positive and optimistic. Some people now refer to optimistic fiction as hope punk. I believe it is a direct reaction to all the negatives of dystopia/grimdark fiction. Of course, back in the 'golden age' of science fiction was almost always optimistic. We love solar punk and hope punk!
  • Kick-ass women protagonists. I think this is a direct reaction to the Me-Too movement. Writers and readers want to write/read stories of female empowerment rather than victimization. This will only increase with Captain Marvel's success. Electric Spec loves kick-ass women stories!
Whether you embrace the trends or buck them, good luck with your fiction!

05 March 2019


We're still enjoying the fabulous February 28, 2019 issue ofElectric Spec! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!
How about that nice cover art, huh?

What's your fave story? The Strongest Man in the Village? Guinevere? Riverbed? When He Stopped Crying? The Blessing of Song?

We enjoyed them all and hope you did, too!