The distinction between literary fiction and genre fiction is neither contemporary nor ageless. Genres are checklists, scaffolding around which the author constructs their narrative. The difference between fiction and nonfiction book riot. The traditional differences between genre and literary fiction are outlined in the table below. Rebecca, daphne du maurier in the end, is the distinction between literary and commercial fiction a useful one, or a. There is no clear distinction between literary and commercial fiction. The greatest difference between genre fiction and literature is that genre fiction is mostly concerned with technical details such as worldbuilding, plot development, or character development largely independent of theme. Books in the literary fiction genre tend to be more sophisticated than books that are simply labeled as commercial, mainstream, or general fiction. How genre fiction became more important than literary fiction. Literary fiction tends to focus on complex issues and the beauty of the writing itself, and your novel may rely more on action, which is the tendency of mainstream fiction.
Science fiction vs fantasy fiction and genre now novel. Ive heard more than one person disparage literary fiction as depressing and oppressive. Literary fiction appeals to a smaller audience, compared to fiction which has a broader audience. There is a perceived hierarchy between the two, where literary fiction is considered superior. Genre fiction is a nasty phrase when did genre turn into an adjective.
The main difference between these christian fiction genres and mainstream fiction is that the christian versions often have the characters relying on their faith to carry them through their journey. Except we can all think of examples of bad literary fiction and we can all think of examples of popular novels that are just as experimental and thoughtchewy as literary fiction. What is the difference between commercial and literary. The author spends pages showing who the characters are, what drives and moves them, what they want, why what they want is. He thinks its impossible to draw boundaries around good writing, that a great story transcends genre boundaries. At the same time, it explores life in a way that genre structure wont. It explains the differences between terms such as science fiction genre and novel form. The debate between literary fiction and genre fiction is a longstanding one. Sometimes referred to as literary light and general fiction, mainstream fiction blends genre fiction with techniques often unique to literary fiction. But the general impression is true literary novels take time to delve into character. The main reason for a person to read genre fiction is for entertainment, for a riveting story, an escape from reality. I know just when youve grasped the differences between literary fiction and genre fiction, i have to introduce a third type of novel but mainstream fiction could be perfect for you if you want to write a genre novel a romance, say but dont want to stick to the strict rules, or conventions, of that genre. So a work of fiction is a work of literature, just as a work of nonfiction is a work of literature. Not that writers of literary fiction dont know what theyre doing, but there is a difference in the level of planning.
Literary fiction refers to novels that dont fit into any standard genre classification romance, mystery, scifi, for example. Literary fiction and genre fiction, whats the difference. Why mainstream fiction could be perfect for you novel. Although genre fiction is generally distinguished from literary fiction, a number of major literary figures have also written genre fiction, for example, john banville publishes crime novels as benjamin black, and both doris lessing, and margaret atwood have written science fiction. But i also think there is a difference between literary fiction and other genre fiction, one based on literary fiction s own set of conventions. What is the principal difference between literary fiction. The boundaries between high and low are increasingly meaningless for audiences. The former includes many subcategories such as mysterythriller, horror, romance, western, fantasy, science fiction, etc. Unlike le guin, grossman sees a qualitative difference between certain kinds of fiction while also insisting that good genre fiction is by any literary standard no worse than socalled straight. For writers and readers alike, its sometimes hard to tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction.
The differences between commercial and literary fiction. Genre fiction is usually written with a particular category in mind rather than fitting the category to the book after the fact. The test of categorizing a work between fiction and non fiction is not whether there is proof the story is true, but whether it claims to be true. Well theres a pretty key distinction between the two. According to this nifty and educational infographic from hiptype via galleycat, the topgrossing type of fiction is literature. Fiction, of course, is a work that is imagined from the mind, a different world than reality. Literary is important, fancy, thinky, whatever any of that means. The essays are thoughtprovoking and murky the waters not just a little bit. However, when reading some books you get the doubt whether they are actually fiction or nonfiction. James, to name but twofall into the category of literary fiction. The difference between fiction and literary fiction is that literary fiction focuses upon style and depth, and is character driven, whereas genre fiction is plot driven, has a broader viewpoint, and focuses more upon imaginary details. Literary fiction requires the highest command of the language. A better way to think about the genre debate the new yorker. Many literary fiction writers are writing science fiction and thrillers, while genre fiction writers are importing literary fiction techniques.
These novels tend to concentrate on story plot, rather than character development or philosophy. The difference between the fantasy and science fiction genres hasnt always been an issue, as the science fiction and fantasy writers of america points out. Romance, for example, focuses on romantic love between. That, i suggest, is an important difference between literary and genre fiction. However, the difference between these two genres is sometimes blurred, as the two often intersect. Genre fiction aspires to predefined archetypes, literary fiction does not. We feel differently though which shows the nature of this ongoing discussion. The term literature is a rubric, an overarching ensemble that encompasses both fiction and nonfiction. In what makes literary fiction literary, an article that appeared in the april 2010 issue of writer, reporter moira allen interviewed a handful of literary fiction publi. The line between commercial fiction seems more defined to me than the line between genre and literary fiction, because i think some of genre writers that i love to read like ian rankin and p. The difference between fiction and nonfiction is something that is very clearly defined beyond any doubt.
Traditional differences between genre and literary fiction. But, i also follow my favorite authors in their works, often scouring the latest book catalogs or local christian bookstore shelves for new offerings. Literary fiction is the form that tends to wander in the telling of a story as the author explores the emotions and motives of a character. On the one hand, literary authors are frequently supported by patronage, with employment at a university or a similar institution, and with the continuation of such positions determined not by book sales but by critical. Genre fiction and literary fiction is there a difference.
What is the difference between genre fiction and proper. Understanding the difference between fiction and nonfiction can help you decide what type. An argument can be made that there are two types of fiction when it comes to novels. Popular or genre fiction is popcorn, fluff, unimportant, bubblegum, unintellectual and whatnot. This isnt to say that genre fiction is worse than literature. Genres are fluid, and many books tow the line between them. Literature is a broad and sometimes changeable designation, and critics may argue about which works deserve to be called literature. Most academics and literary critics further subdivide fiction into two categories. If your novel doesnt fall into the genre fiction categories, dont automatically assume its literary fiction.
Genre fiction, meanwhile, includes books that fall into specific categories. Difference between fiction and nonfiction compare the. While its easy to define romance, scififantasy, and other genres, it can be harder to pinpoint what exactly literature is, especially in contrast to popular, mainstream, commercial, or just plain fiction fiction. Resistance to genre, among literary writers, has given way to eagerness to exploit its riches. Genre busting and blending a cocktail of literary spirits. Oddly, i read almost exclusively literary fiction, but i know as i writer how i want to spend my novelwriting time, i know the audience with which i want to connect, and its found in that magical, captivating blend of quality writing tackling commercial plot topics or themes. These works of literary nonfiction have character, setting, plot, conflict, figurative language, and theme just like literary fiction. A genre is a category of literature, such as mystery, suspense, science fiction or horror.
Answers to writing questions genre gotham writers workshop. In publishing, literary fiction novels are regarded as having more literary merit than most commercial or genre fiction. Michael chabon argues some books can be both genre and literary. Genre fiction is accused of being insignificant and shallow while literary fiction is called pretentious and boring. In general, fiction refers to plot, settings, and characters created from the imagination, while nonfiction refers to factual stories focused on actual events and people. Examples of literary fiction authors include barbara kingsolver, john lecarre, and toni morrison. Though containing the same elements as secular genres, christian fiction attempts to include elements of the christian faith. Its weasel wording, in that it conflates lit fic with literature. One basic difference between the two is that literary fiction tends to be characterdriven, while genre fiction is often more plotdriven. That said, there are some general statements that can be said about literary and genre fiction that help differentiate them.
Not pretentious, overthetop purple prose just simply excellent writing. Neal stephenson has suggested that, while any definition will be simplistic, there is today a general cultural difference between literary and genre fiction. Works of fiction are those that tell made up stories. Science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, thriller, and western are examples of genres. However, there are a few key differences in the genres that can help us to separate one type of book from the other in the science fiction vs fantasy debate. The criteria is graded think of it as a spectrum so that a book or movie can have elements of both literary fiction and also elements of genre fiction at the same time. Krystal argues that literary fiction is better than genre fiction for a number of reasons. Genre fiction radiates from a literary centre books. The difference between popular fiction and literary fiction is subtle but unmistakable. The language of the novel will at times delve into prose of a more literary vein full of insight while the rest of the writing will be more driven by the story. Like carol, i prefer to read trade fiction for the complexity more lengthy novels allow. Whats the difference between literary fiction and genre. As opposed to the many genres of nonfictionbiography, autobiography, commentary, data analysis, philosophy, history, and others fiction is defined by its focus on narratives invented by the author.326 837 712 584 864 550 1459 1266 169 348 616 540 294 631 886 978 1469 731 1077 863 699 230 1362 444 611 1327 11 74 877 328 329 49 491 1293 751