Some of the most popular indie e-books moving through the digital market may not actually be classified as books at all, but rather the newly coined term, “Grunge Narratives,” which are basically cheap short stories that have an ambush style of attack on the reader and usually don’t feature a happy ending.
With the onslaught of writers moving into digital publishing these days following the roll-out of electronic reading tablets, the market has been seriously flooded with high-dollar, low-quality works. But Grunge Narratives have been a better sell for emerging authors in the horror, hacktivist and dark fiction genres.
“Vintage horror fiction!”
There really is no rhyme or reason for Grunge Narratives, other than the fact that these stories having been filling holes in the market that most readers did not even know they wanted. Just consider the consumer buying habits for a reader in the digital market. The last thing most readers want to do is buy a book by an unknown author, but even more distressing is seeing that the novel is 300 – 600 pages long. Not only is that a monetary investment, but also a time investment. Authors do not take into consideration that readers consider their time to be highly valuable and if you waste it, they will never pick up another one of your works again.
In the end, readers have been less thrilled about buying a long novel and more inclined to read the short narratives that hold less of a “waste” risk. They might waste their money with an inferior short story, but they did not waste their time, especially if it was only an hour that they will never get back, instead of ten hours. It makes sense, right?
Well, short narratives are great for that purpose, but Grunge Narratives have taken the whole concept and placed it on its head. Just like its distant musical cousin from the late 20th century popularized by Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell, Grunge Narratives essentially reject conformity and never follow a specific formula, especially if it is a long standing but unspoken rule of the literary community. With Grunge Narratives, there is no “beginning-middle-end” strategy. More to the point, it finds its way to the end quite rapidly.
Grunge Narratives usually start in the middle of a story and if there are prerequisites to it, then it is told in exposition through subtle prose, if at all. Such elements are only a paragraph or two long and it quickly gets back to the primary action, usually maintaining a linear flow in the story.
With Grunge Narratives, the writer normally does not have the reader in mind when they are writing it, but rather the character. They write as if the character were their only reader and the goal is to give him/her justice by telling their story with the most amount of detail in the fewest amount of words.
As with most prolific writers who have works published on the digital market, writers of Grunge Narratives are usually poor, living hand-to-mouth. There is a bold transparency in their works that transpose from real life experiences, which includes anti-consumerism with strong objections to conformity from public demand. The stories mostly play into a role that writers experience on a daily basis, in fictional form on digital parchment.
For those who use Grunge Narratives in their writing, mainstream success is rarely achieved… and if it is, it’s on accident. These works are habitual in nature and the writer generally has no other choice but to produce such content. It’s not done for wealth, but rather for sanity. It clears the mind of a writer and allows him/her to move on to what’s next in life. Such writers also tend to be prolific, putting out large volumes of content over short periods of time.
“People are strange!”
But perhaps the most vital aspect to Grunge Narrative is originality. If any other rule that defines the sub-genre were to be broken, this is the one that can never be deviated from. It is the most important aspect that defines a Grunge Narrative. Mostly due to its core value of being true to the writer’s own life, originality in a Grunge Narrative is completely negated if the writer follows themes or stories that had already been written by others.
To be a poseur is perhaps the gravest sin of a writer who uses Grunge Narratives in his/her voice. Besides a lack of true talent, to infringe on another person’s works by changing details is the sign of an amateur. Themes and stories are meant to solely define one author, thus taking away from such is in a sense, industry cannibalization.
Although Grunge Narratives is a fairly new term for the style, it has been used throughout history by some of literature’s most widely respected authors. In a commentary by the celebrated Indiana author, Kurt Vonnegut, his own basic guidelines mostly fall in line with what modern writers of the style use today.
[Featured Image by FX]