Showing posts with label Literary Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Literary Fiction. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Genre Headache

As I work through the first draft of my WiP, I realize identifying a genre to describe my work will be an ongoing process. My style tends toward literary fiction, in that I explore the human condition through character-driven storytelling. I'm a fan of lush descriptions, a poetic voice. On the other hand, the plot I've devised is riddled with suspense. The stakes are high, life-threatening. Each character is plagued with conflict borne from psychological tensions. Oh yes, and there's romance in there too. Is there a blanket genre that covers all those characteristics?

Perhaps there is. Perhaps, I'm writing a work of commercial fiction. says, "Commercial fiction uses high-concept hooks and compelling plots to give it a wide, mainstream appeal...Like literary fiction, the writing style in commercial fiction is elevated beyond generic mainstream fiction. But unlike literary fiction, commercial fiction maintains a strong narrative storyline as its central goal, rather than the development of enviable prose or internal character conflicts." (Read all their genre definitions HERE.)

The verdict's still out. Hopefully, my beta readers (*waves to DL!*) will help me categorize my work before researching agents. And that, my dear friends, is still in the (near?) future.

Does your WiP fall gracefully under one genre heading? Have you found an umbrella genre that pretty much covers your work's characteristics? Do you wish there was a genre called "Other?"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spotlight on Literary Fiction

Literary Fiction is often thought of as a catch-all genre for writing that doesn’t fit comfortably into easily designated genres like chic lit, mystery, science fiction, political drama, speculative fiction, etc. Most people’s definitions for works of Literary Fiction include phrases like: “provocative writing with heavier language and lush descriptions”; “complex character-driven plots”; “leaves a deep, powerful impression on the reader”; and “multilayered novels that wrestle with universal dilemmas.”

I consider myself a Literary Fiction writer because of the characteristics that naturally arise in my work. I’m drawn to the complexities of a character’s personality, and my focus is foremost on the inner conflicts pulling the person in opposing directions. My writing style tends to include desciptive language that shows more than tells, and I like to indulge in literary devices. Also, I want my work to say something. Usually, I don’t start a story with a character or plot idea. Instead, a theme forms in my mind and the story becomes a vehicle to deliver that theme.

My greatest challenges within the genre are coming up with interesting plots to support my characters’ journey of self-discovery, and finessing my writing so the tone and language aren’t pretentious or convoluted. Many of my rewrites concentrate on voice and making the writing sound poetic and beautiful instead of grandiose and ostentatious. defines literary fiction as: "serious fiction with claims to literary merit, and focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character. (As opposed to genre or popular fiction)." Here are the top ten Literary Fiction novels, as determined by site member votes. Are any of your favorites here?

To Kill a Mockingbird -- Harper Lee
The Catcher in the Rye -- J.D. Salinger
The Power of Persuasion -- Shelagh Watkins
Crime and Punishment -- Fyodor Dostoevsky
Jane Eyre -- Charlotte Brontë
Lord of the Flies -- William Golding
Gone With the Wind -- Margaret Mitchell
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe -- C.S. Lewis
Memoirs of a Geisha -- Arthur Golden
One Hundred Years of Solitude -- Gabriel García Márquez

To read the entire list of the top 100 member picks, click HERE.

I enjoy experimenting outside the genre of Literary Fiction, and have written short stories that include Horror, Speculative Fiction, Erotica, Action/Adventure, and Comedy. Even then, I noticed an aura of Literary Fiction aglow in each story. It's definitely true that an author's voice is as unique as her fingerprint, and its evidence can be found on everything she touches.

Do you experiment outside your genre? Can you still hear your author's voice loud and clear?