Formula fiction

Formula fiction

In popular culture, formula fiction is literature in which the storylines and plots have been reused to the extent that the narratives are predictable. It is similar to genre fiction, which identifies a number of specific settings that are frequently reused. The label of "formula fiction" is used in literary criticism as a mild pejorative to imply lack of originality.

Formula fiction is similar to genre fiction. The label of genre fiction is typically assigned because of the reuse of settings, content, layout, and/or style. The label of formula fiction is assigned because of the reuse of plot, plot devices and stock characters.

Genres like high fantasy, Westerns and science fiction space opera often have specific settings, such as the Old West, a pseudo-Medieval European setting, or outer space. Approaching a given genre, certain assumed background information covers the nature and purpose of possible predictable elements of the story, such as the appearance of dragons and wizards in high fantasy, warp drives in science fiction, or shootouts at high noon in Westerns . These set-ups are taken for granted by the genre conventions, and need not be explained for the reader anew... though it should also be noted that these elements can easily be treated subversively as well, playing with some of the preconceptions inherent in formula fiction.

The "formula" is defined specifically by predictable narrative structure. Formulaic tales incorporate plots that have been reused so often as to be easily recognizable. Perhaps the most clearly formulaic plots characterize the romantic comedy genre; in a book or film labeled as such, viewers already know its most basic central plot, including to some extent the ending. This does not always prove to be detrimental to a given work's reception, however, as the popularity of the aforementioned genre demonstrates.

"Formula fiction" should not be confused with "pastiche" (the mimmicking of another work or author's style), though the latter by its nature may include elements of the former; the same holds true of some parody and satirical works as well, which may well include formulaic elements such as common stereotypes or caricatures, or which may use formulaic elements in order to mock them or point out their supposedly cliche or unrealistic nature. Indeed, between parody, satire and such subgenres as romantic comedy, comedy as a whole often relies on either formulaic elements, or the mocking of such elements.

Formula fiction is often stereotypically associated with early pulp magazine markets, though some works published in that medium, such as "The Cold Equations", subvert the supposed expectations of the common narrative formula of that time.

The dissection and tracking of common formulaic tropes - as well as their subversions and new permutations - has become reasonably popular in not only academic circles (the Final Girl theory being one such example, as well as to some extent Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces"), but also amongst more casual amateur circles, with websites such as TV Tropes Wiki.

ee also

*Film genre
*Genre fiction
*Literary criticism
*Literary fiction
*Pulp fiction
*Romantic comedy

External links

* [ The "Basic" Plots in Literature]
* [ TV Tropes Wiki] , one of the most popular "trope-tracking" websites, where many of the conventions of formula fiction in many different media and genres are elaborated on and which includes many detailed examples of formula fiction and its composing elements.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Formula (disambiguation) — Generally, a formula is A set form of words in which something is defined, stated, or declared, or which is prescribed by authority or custom to be used on some ceremonial occasion (Oxford English Dictionary). It is a diminutive form of the word… …   Wikipedia

  • Genre fiction — is a term for fictional works (novels, short stories) written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre. In contemporary fiction publishing, genre is an… …   Wikipedia

  • Escapist fiction — is fiction which provides a psychological escape from thoughts of everyday life by immersing the reader in exotic situations or activities.The term is not used favorably, though the condemnation contained in it may be slight. Those who defend… …   Wikipedia

  • Lesbian pulp fiction — refers to any mid 20th century pulp novel with overtly lesbian themes and content. Lesbian pulp fiction was published in the 1950s and 60s by many of the same publishing houses that other subgenres of pulp fiction including Westerns, Romances,… …   Wikipedia

  • Pulp fiction lésbica — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El término pulp fiction lésbica se utiliza para denominar a toda novela pulp de mediados del siglo XX con temas de contenido lésbico. Este tipo de obra se publicó en los años 50 y 60 por las mismas agencias… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Biblical speculative fiction — is Speculative fiction that uses Christian themes and incorporates the Christian worldview. (It is thus distinct from speculations on the Bible and/or Christianity such as Dan Brown s The Da Vinci Code.) The difference between biblical… …   Wikipedia

  • Future GPX Cyber Formula — 新世紀GPXサイバーフォーミュラ (Future Grand Prix Cyber Formula) Genre Drama, Science fiction, Sports (Auto racing) TV anime Directed …   Wikipedia

  • Future GPX Cyber Formula — 新世紀GPXサイバーフォーミュラ (Future Grand Prix Cyber Formula) Genre Compétition automobile Anime japonais Réalisateur Mitsuo Fukuda Studio d’animation Sunrise …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jet Fuel Formula — Infobox Rocky and Bullwinkle story arc name = Jet Fuel Formula caption = Bullwinkle, Rocky, Gidney Cloyd, in a scene from Jet Fuel Formula season = 1 story arc =1 segments = 40 date start = 19 November 1959 date conc = c. 31 March 1960 program =… …   Wikipedia

  • Stars and planetary systems in fiction — The planetary systems of stars other than the Sun and the Solar System are a staple element in much science fiction. Contents 1 Overview 1.1 The brightest stars …   Wikipedia