To follow up on a post about what makes for good science fiction, I wanted to talk about the diversity of story types. Comments on the previous post seemed to pit “character” stories against “idea” stories when in reality, I believe both are viable. (Read: I love ALL types of science fiction!) I’m curious to hear, though, which type of story you like best, so let’s get down to discussing four specific types.
In How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, Orson Scott Card claims there are four elements that determine the structure of story. In each story, one of these four elements dominates:
Milieu. The whole point of a story structured around milieu is to allow readers to explore a world or worlds. Think The Wizard of Oz or Gulliver’s Travels.
Idea. When an idea or mystery is most important part, the story ends once the idea has been revealed or the mystery solved. Think 2001: A Space Odyssey or any mystery novel.
Character. A story structured around character is usually concerned with that character’s growth or change. Think “literary.”
Event. If something is wrong in the universe and must be righted, only a certain event will satisfy readers. Think The Lord of The Rings.
So… which type of story do you like best? Which do you think is most important? Which do you think best serves young readers of speculative fiction?
(By the way, check out this article to see the pathos that results when audiences are promised one type of story and are given another.)
Parker Peevyhouse is having a hard time picking a favorite.