Fusion Fiction as Third Rail Writing.

literature, reading, Uncategorized, writing

Blog posts about banned books have shown that, unlike the other Arts, inappropriate taboos are still inflicted on the Art of Writing. These restrictions define and confine a Third Rail: supercharged concepts barricaded behind signs that say, Don’t write here.

third rail banner

Included among these powerful ideas are dilemmas that can affect love stories, such as something that prevents them from ending Happily Ever After (or at least Happy For Now); or whatever may be perceived as altering the distribution of power that’s assumed to accompany sexual dimorphism, such as a heroine who is more economically successful or sexually experienced than the hero; and even passionate middle-aged or elderly lovers. Such strong stories can end up being shelved as Women’s Fiction, a vague category that’s guaranteed to obscure almost any book that lands there.

Another warning sign above the Third Rail is the dogma that proscribes a writer’s crossing genre lines. Oddly enough, this prohibition conflicts with the doctrine that urges the cultivation of name recognition: to achieve branding as a great storyteller. The ability to spin a good yarn is a personal trait, independent of the type of story being told. To suggest that the teller of a well-told story in one genre will lose readership by switching to another, can only be a fairy tale told by trolls intent on derailing an author’s reputation for effective writing.

Related to this is the persistent lack of an official category for what I call Fusion Fiction: crossing genre lines within one work. Irish Firebrands is one such book, because of its combination of Boomer-Lit, romantic beach-read,  social-political-historical commentary, paranormal, inspirational, and psychological elements.

Crossing genre lines within one work offers a reader the opportunity to focus on the desired aspect of the reading experience. If you’re looking for a love story, wallow in it. If you like to puzzle out paranormal clues, have at it. If you want to get inside the heads of characters in a psychological melodrama, go for it. If you’re into to learning facts or skills, or traveling to a different place or time to experience a culture or history, more power to you. If you seek encouragement from reading a story that’s uplifting, inspirational, metaphysical or visionary, be my guest. If you enjoy thought-provoking controversy or pungent social commentary, prepare to be pungently provoked.

Unfortunately, the effort to avoid crossing genre lines within one story, may be what makes it difficult for some who do write within a single genre to create well-developed characters. I can think of nothing that’s better guaranteed to result in a flat, uninteresting “cardboard” character, than to deny that character the opportunity to think, say, and live the variety of things that real people get to do.

Moreover, social, political, or historical commentary, psychopathology, and metaphysical or inspirational themes are also among the subjects that can electrify the Third Rail. When character-catalyzing controversies are made off-limits, writers may resort to awkward back-story data dumping, relying on excessively detailed physical descriptions, and proposing improbable plots to drive their stories.

Should all stories combine genres? Perhaps not, but the leavening that some amount of mixing can provide, would go far towards eliminating charges of “formulaic” genre fiction.

Fusion Fiction powered by the Third Rail invites readers to an experience as vivid and varied as any may wish life would be. If a story challenges me to join up the dots in a different way, every time I re-read it, you’ll find that novel in my bookcase.

Do YOU write FUSION FICTION? Please register for FREE promotion, and help build a community of like-minded Authors of mixed-genre Written Art.

Click this image to learn more about the writing of the Fusion Fiction novel, Irish Firebrands, at our sister site. 

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A Public Service Announcement:

books, Fusion Fiction, reading, Uncategorized, writing

Slide1Piracy and plagiarism have always been with us: one of the earliest cases is said to have been adjudicated by the 6th-century Irish High King Diarmait mac Cearbhaill, who pronounced, “To every cow its calf, and to every book its copy.” This started a war that resulted in the exile of the culprit, who repented for causing so many deaths, turned over a new leaf, and became Saint Columba.

There are writers out there who are on the record dismissing the importance of book piracy, and likening it to “free publicity.” But why encourage criminals? Others have compared piracy to borrowing books from a public library. This opinion is mistaken. Libraries purchase their inventory from reputable sources, so authors have been paid for each book libraries acquire. Libraries then lend their own property to their registered patrons. This is fair use. Readers may later purchase books that they borrowed from a library. I have often done so.

Piracy undoubtedly is exacerbated by the reluctance of many Indie Authors to obtain copyright registration. What should thieves fear, when their victims will have difficulty proving ownership without legal documentation of copyright? In the USA, copyright registration is easy, inexpensive, and should not be omitted.

A retailer giveaway may boost an author’s “sales ranking,” but such figures are deceptive: something that is given for free has not been sold. Assertions of popularity that are based on such misrepresentations destroy an author’s credibility. These promotionals benefit only retailers, who make claims to have “best-selling” authors in their stables. Participating authors may be disappointed when such promos neither improve nor maintain their incomes.

The distribution of free e-books also has made it simple and cost-effective for criminals to steal intellectual property. I believe that the pirates who advertise new paper books “in stock” are lying about their inventory. If they do get an order, they can easily download a cheap or free e-book and print from that copy. It’s not hard to reverse-engineer most digital documents, especially those which lack DRM.

It’s sad that so few people have read Irish Firebrands, but sometimes it helps to have published a sleeper, because I can account for every known legal copy:

  • Only one e-book was sold (at $9.99 USD), and that was almost 2 years ago. I do not know who bought it, although it’s possible it could have been an investment made by a pirate who then made back the cost by selling copies to two of the three persons who left star-ratings (but no written reviews) at Goodreads. (I know the third person, who owns a paperback.)
  • Only once did I do an e-book promotion for $1.99 USD, but none sold.
  • I have never done a promotional giveaway.
  • More than 100 people have downloaded the 51% e-book preview.
  • I’ve given one ARC to a reviewer, and it was a PDF of a special edition that’s easily identifiable if it shows up elsewhere. The POD sold one print copy before I took it off the market, and I know who bought it.
  • I have exchanged paperbacks with two authors.
  • I have given two paperbacks as charitable donations to registered facilities.
  • The POD has sold very few paperbacks. One was purchased via library distribution, and I know who all of the other buyers were. No paperback sales were made outside the USA. It has been more than a year since the last paperback sale.
  • I sent an e-copy of the manuscript to a small publisher in the UK, who declined publication.
  • I sent one paperback to a self-published author competition, so that one may be in circulation as a used book.
  • About half of the chapters of the audiobook Beta edition are in the hands of a half-dozen identified listeners. Beta listener feedback is resulting in changes to the recording, so any recordings made from the Beta chapters would be pirate copies, and I’d know who did it. The audiobook text is also different to any of the others, so any e-book or paper copy that turns up and matches the audiobook text would be a stolen copy, taken from audiobook “dictation.”

My copyright was officially registered from the beginning of my book’s publication. I’ve seen my book on one of those dodgy “free e-book” distribution sites, but it’s accompanied by a copyright warning. If people are buying and reading pirate copies, nobody is reviewing the book anywhere (not even trolls).

I commend Indie Authors who register their copyrights. In addition, I encourage all to end free e-book distribution, and to set prices for their works that are commensurate with their value. Feel free to add the CAP IT! Badge to your blog’s sidebar or footer.

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If you are one of those who have downloaded the 51% preview of Irish Firebrands, be aware that the Smashwords e-book price returned to the original publication price of $9.99 on March 1. Amazon runs its own sales on the paperback (the latest was discounted 19%).