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  1. #1
    Jon Piper
    Guest

    Genre vs Literary Fiction

    It just struck me that in many conversations, like those below concerning POV and Show vs. Tell, we lump literary and genre fiction fiction together. However the style and craft that applies to one doesn't apply to the other. Our conversations touch on this point.

    I think readers expect different results when they read the two types of fiction. I also think the market for genre fiction is much greater than the market for literary fiction. I do believe the best seller lists prove this.

    From what I see, college MFA programs concentrate on the literary while writing books, e.g. those by Stein, are biased toward genre, e.g., mystery, horror, romance, western, etc.

    So my questions are do you feel there is a great difference between the two? Do you aspire to write one type or the other?



  2. #2
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: Genre vs Literary Fiction

    I think the distinction is arbitrary.

    There can be "literary" books within any genre. Look at the classics---they're all over the map: suspense, horror, drama, romance. Those are usually considered genres, but there are examples that are more literary than others.

    If the words are well-crafted and there is attention to metaphor and other devices in addition to telling a good stories, you get a layered book, a literary book.

    It doesn't have to be stylistically difficult to be literary fiction. I would consider Alice in Wonderland to be literary fiction but it can be read just as easily and enjoyed just as fully by children as it can by adults. Craft, at its best, is often transparent.

    --- Mya Bell

  3. #3
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: Genre vs Literary Fiction

    I'll take that back---"arbitrary" is the wrong word.

    I think the distinction between "genre" fiction and "literary fiction" is artificial. Any genre book can be literary, depending upon how it's written.

    --- Mya Bell

  4. #4
    Cuthbert Clabbermilque
    Guest

    Re: Genre vs Literary Fiction

    I think whatever you write should be fun for the reader to read. If they come away with the feeling they just enjoyed a good story that is enough. How you tell the story is unimportant so long as the reader likes it.

  5. #5
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: Genre vs Literary Fiction

    Cuthbert pointed out: "How you tell the story is unimportant so long as the reader likes it."

    How you tell the story is often what determines whether or not the reader likes it.

    --- Mya Bell

  6. #6
    Jon Piper
    Guest

    Re: Genre vs Literary Fiction

    Mya, I hadn't thought of this: "There can be "literary" books within any genre. Look at the classics---they're all over the map: suspense, horror, drama, romance. Those are usually considered genres, but there are examples that are more literary than others."

    I'd always thought of all classics as being literary. But as you point out there are literary classics and there are genre classics. Many or Stephen Kings books will be horror classics but not literary classics.

    The Old Man and the Sea is a literary classic that does not fit into a genre. Neither does The Great Gatsby. But Brave New World would probably be classified as a literary science fiction classic.

    I think you answered the first question. How about the second?

  7. #7
    Irese Sheridan
    Guest

    Re: Genre vs Literary Fiction

    I think the difference between a literary novel and a genre driven one is sadly up to the publisher. It's how the house wants to market it.

    And I agree that the classics were all over the map. A good map.

    Irese

  8. #8
    Richard Reilly
    Guest

    Re: Genre vs Literary Fiction

    so if the distinction is artificial, would you say taht some books hve a genre, as well as being literary, and other books, that dont have a genre as far as i seee it - like old man and the sea - are just literary without having the two categories?

  9. #9
    Prince Louis Richard de la Pau
    Guest

    Re: Genre vs Literary Fiction

    I've never really worked out where the dividing line between genre and literary fiction falls. But then I'm as thick as two short planks most days.

    Louis Richard

  10. #10
    Irese Sheridan
    Guest

    Re: Genre vs Literary Fiction

    LOL Louis Richard, but you do know what you like.

    Irese

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