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How does one presume?
Tim Chambers
Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 7:50 AM
Joined: 4/4/2012
Posts: 2


I first looked into book country several months ago, and was unable to post anything because my novel's genre wasn't included. Now I have the same problem, because genre wise it doesn't fit the usual categories. There are crimes committed, but it's not a crime novel. There is romance in it, but it isn't a bodice ripper. There is politics in it, but not until the climax.  It most certainly isn't a fantasy. If anything , it is a road novel, which still hasn't been included on here, and it only starts out on the road, really. I am thinking of posting in literary fiction, because style and character development are a very big part of my writing, but who am I to presume to call my own work literary? Is that not a judgement for others to make? Is literary fiction just a catchall term for novels that aren't all sound and fury? What say you all?
MariAdkins
Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 8:33 PM
I write "southern gothic", so here on Book Country, that gets put into "fantasy".
Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 10:16 AM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438


Hi Tim, 

 

It sounds like it could be literary fiction, yes. When you're not sure what your genre is, the next step is to think about what other published titles your book is similar to. What books do you think have the same audience as yours? Now look at the genre of these published books: where are they shelved in the book store? When you look at the jacket copy, how is the book described? Who are the writers who've blurbed it, and what is their genre? Where have most people shelved the book on Goodreads? 

 

Sure, there are genre-benders out there, but it is often much more challenging for them to capture the attention of readers. After all, a book can only live in once place in the bookstore.

 

Cheers,

Nevena from BC

 

 

--edited by Nevena Georgieva on 6/26/2013, 10:17 AM--


Virginia Dukes
Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013 7:53 PM
I had the same problem.  I decided that "literary fiction" means that you are at least aiming for excellent writing, rather than entertainment. Look at this way, if your greatest dream is to have your manuscript made into a video game or movie, then it probably isn't literary fiction.  On the other hand, if your favorite books emphasize character development and "bigger" themes, then you are probably trying to write literary fiction.  Personally, I would not presume to say my work belongs in that category, but I know I'd rather win a book prize than a contract to write the sequel.
A.E. Skeen
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013 10:48 AM
Joined: 9/8/2013
Posts: 7


I'd say, just post it and don't worry so much about it. Also, can you post it to more than one genre or cross-list it?
TPNiedermann
Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 4:54 PM
Joined: 2/21/2013
Posts: 40


Years ago I started writing a thriller. It's a genre that I have read a good deal of and I had no aspirations to write "literary" fiction (I don't really read much of it and don't tend to like much of what I have read that calls itself "literary"). But one section was giving me a lot of trouble. It's tone didn't mesh with the thriller-- I took them more seriously I guess. The issues were more subtle and at the same time more thought provoking. In any case I yanked that section out and replaced it in my thriller, which is mostly finished at over 100 words, but not quite (I haven't looked at it in years.) For a while I played with the section I removed to see what I could do with it. I couldn't figure out how to end it. Everything I added seemed to cheapen or dilute the impact of what was already there. So I put it aside. 
Finally, a year ago, I realized that I already had the ending and restructured things to make everything work together. And what was it? I had no idea. It wasn't a thriller--not enough "grab 'em in the first syllable" type-writing, some violence but not a lot and no big resolution. I realized that, without really weaning to, I had written something that could only be described as "literary fiction," and I adjusted my thinking a bit on what that should mean, because I now am very conscious of being a "literary" writer, even when I write genre stuff. 
I think literary fiction is simply writing that wants to say a little more, hot you a bit deeper. It wants to engage the reader, not just entertain. An example, Raymond Chandler. Genre writer to be sure, but if you read his stuff you see that he is after something more and has taken the time and invested the craftsmanship to make sure it comes across.  Craftsmanship and impact. Some that stays with you. All good writing, irrespective of genre, should leave you with something, of course, but to me, that means that such writing is transcending mere genre writing and is in fact literary writing. To sum up, I might say that literary writing is less of a genre and more of a level--the highest level. Now some intentionally literary writing fails, but their designation as 'literary" comes from the attempt to dig deeper, which other genres, being focused on entertaining, don't habitually get into.  

Elizabeth Moon
Posted: Friday, April 3, 2015 12:57 AM
Joined: 6/14/2012
Posts: 195


It's a misconception that "commercial" fiction is written by people who don't care about excellence in writing, or character development, or "bigger issues."  You can find all of those in some (not all) mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, historical novels.  Most writers I know want to write as well as they can; some are excellent in stylistic terms; most are strong on character development, and most engage with serious issues.   But they do so in a way that makes their work attractive to the readers of these other genres in addition to writing well crafted stories with complex characters and considerable depth of thought. 

 

C.S. Lewis pointed out many decades ago that the elements of literary excellence are found in all books that readers actually read--because they're useful in making books readable and enjoyable.


Momo
Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 11:50 AM
Joined: 8/21/2015
Posts: 15


Virginia Dukes wrote:
I had the same problem.  I decided that "literary fiction" means that you are at least aiming for excellent writing, rather than entertainment. Look at this way, if your greatest dream is to have your manuscript made into a video game or movie, then it probably isn't literary fiction.  On the other hand, if your favorite books emphasize character development and "bigger" themes, then you are probably trying to write literary fiction.  Personally, I would not presume to say my work belongs in that category, but I know I'd rather win a book prize than a contract to write the sequel.

 



I'm with Elizabeth on this. I think this represents a false dichotomy. Shakespeare after all was a genre writer looking to sell his work on the stage and reach a wide audience. I think he would have gone for a Henry V video game too. Genre, story and focus on popularity in no way preclude a high level of literary excellence.

For me literary fiction defines itself by subjugating plot and genre to either literary style, character development or philosophical ideas. It's generally a little less readable, and less plot-centric.

 

Momo

 

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My latest story: Sepp

--edited by Momo on 8/26/2015, 12:34 PM--


 

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