A popular piece of fiction makes you happy and relaxed, but doesn’t have to leave you pensive and uplifted, like literary fiction does. The fundamental difference between a commercial or popular fiction writer and a literary fiction writer is that the former just wants to tell a story, while the latter also takes on the challenge of experimenting with the elements that go into the art of storytelling. . and ends up leaving a more lasting impact.
Crafts on history
When reading popular / mainstream / commercial fiction it is easy to get lost in the story to the exclusion of everything else. However, literary fiction invites you to appreciate the language, the turn of phrase, the art of the story, feel the experiences, and soak up the message the writer wants to convey.
Ideas and emotions
And that’s the other thing. Literary fiction is about ideas. The emphasis is on the theme or idea that the book is trying to convey. While it’s obvious that the story you are telling must be good, you can’t just tell the story; there must be a message or concern running through your work. Most literary writers try to address certain concerns with their writing. And they try to stir emotions in readers through skillful writing.
From the thinker, for the thinker!
Thus, literary fiction is truly the work of the thinker and the artist and is intended for the thinker and the connoisseur in the reader. A piece of literary fiction helps us disentangle aspects of oneself and of life. Readers who opt for literary fiction read as aficionados of the language, style, and craftsmanship needed to bring the book to them. They seek a sense of deep satisfaction and the kind of levitation that comes with all good work of art.
On the other hand, readers of commercial fiction read to hear someone else’s story and primarily seek entertainment. They are looking for a quick read that they could get lost in and come out refreshed and happy. They may or may not learn life lessons and messages from the tale; they may or may not like the language. It hasn’t been the writer’s primary effort or goal anyway. The goal was to tell a story well.
Life by proxy
You emerge from a piece of literary fiction with the feeling of having lived the life of the protagonist for some time, such is the intense sharing of the thoughts and workings of the inner spirit. In mainstream fiction, it is the action that is more important than the mental functioning of the characters.
Battle of Beds
Literary and commercial fictions both have a purpose and have their own group of dedicated followers. By its nature, commercial fiction sells far more than literature, while the quality of writing, style and effort of literary fiction is superior. Authors, who hate being framed but forced into watertight compartments by prevailing market-driven definitions, take photos of the style they choose not to follow.
Literary authors are part of a snobbish club that regards mainstream literature as “commercial” and therefore does not deserve to be noticed by literature. Commercial authors develop an upside-down snobbery of their work, which flies off the shelves, and rejects any attempt to cut down on their literary endeavors!
The battle rages on even as most readers find their own comfort zones and opt for books they consider good read! After all, as most Write India authors agree, that’s all that matters in the end! A good read!
Are you preparing to write literary fiction? Here’s how!
| 1. Abandon formal structures; create your own style. Innovate.
2. Develop a strong and distinct voice as a writer. Play cleverly with the tongue. Tease the plot structure to make it different and fresh.
3. Think about the purpose of the writing – is there a message you need to convey? Weave it with dexterity. It can be symbolic or psychological. This is what will help the writing to last.
5. Focus on the inner workings of your protagonist’s mind. In literary fiction, it’s not so much what happens to your character as what he thinks about it and how he reacts to it that matters.
6. Finally, remember that the plot must move and also have a beginning, a middle and an end. Under the guise of literary, do not abandon the narrative movement, the catharsis and the denouement!