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Anthrofiction Network

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Anthrofiction Defined

One cannot really promote anthrofiction, especially as a serious genre of fiction, without a definition. After much thought I’ve come up with the following:

anthrofiction

an·thro·fic·tion click to hear pronunciation [ànthrə fíkshən] or an·thro fic·tion noun
Anthrofiction is a genre of fiction in which at least one important character is anthropomorphic. The essence of anthrofiction is the characters—what it’s like to be nonhuman and how that intersects with the experience of the reader. A reader reads anthrofiction to feel what it is to be that character and that species. With essential anthrofiction, if you were to rewrite the story so the anthropomorphic characters were human, or even a different species—the story would fail.

I do two things with this definition: Give a basic definition, which sometimes intersects with other genres of fiction. And narrow the definition to try to differentiate it from other genres that often contain anthropomorphic characters.

Anthropomorphic Characters

Perhaps it would help to define anthropomorphic. The 2001 Encarta World Dictionary says:

anthropomorphic

an·thro·po·mor·phic click to hear pronunciation [ànthrəpə máwr fìk] noun
Attribution of human characteristics to nonhumans. The attribution of a human form, human characteristics, or human behavior to nonhuman things such as deities in mythology and animals in children’s stories.

Any nonhuman character who speaks, lives like a human, or has human traits such as jealousy or greed, qualifies. By this definition there are many genres of fiction with anthropomorphic characters, or anthros. Science fiction often features aliens and robots; fantasy has all manner of nonhuman races and magical creatures; horror features werewolves, vampires, and ghosts; and of course children’s literature is full of talking animals.

How this Relates to the Contest

Characterization is a skill that comes with experience. As long as you understand and use basic sentence structure and paragraphs, and include one or more anthropomorphic characters in an important role, your story has an excellent chance of being accepted for the contest.

One of the criteria I and several of the regulars use when judging the stories is the sophistication of the characterization—especially your anthropomorphic characters. So do some research, understand the natural state of your characters’ species, then design your characters and the society they live in. Make us believe your characters are real and you will produce a more satisfying story.


Document History

2006-Nov-26 – First publication.

2009-Feb-19 – Added sound to the definitions. Released definition under Creative Commons license.

Site Notes

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Creative Commons LicenseThe above definition for "anthrofiction" (inside the first green box) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Anyone wishing to use the above defintion for any purpose that falls within the terms of the license may do so without further permission. For attrubution please cite: “Scott Miller c/o <a href="http://www.anthrofiction.net/">Anthrofiction Network</a>”. For those with a special project where attribution is not possible, or who wish to shed this Creative Commons license, please contact me to ask permission.

Page contents changed: 2010-Aug-02.     Page coding changed: 2009-Sep-01.