Friday, November 18, 2011

Literary Fiction v Mainstream Fiction

I just finished reading "The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel" by Kathleen Kent. What a great read! It's historical fiction surrounding an actual family persecuted during the Salem Witch Trails. While I was, indeed, hoping someone would actually turn out to be a witch, I suffered no disappointment that no one did because the story was so rich with period detail, the characters were so finely developed and the prose quite engaging. This, in my opinion, is definitely literary fiction.
Ah, there's the rub!
I used to read books like that and feel a little, well, less then. I'd lament over how many rejection slips I'd received, how many times Stanford was sorry to inform me I would not be the recipient of a writing fellowship and question whether these were indications that I should just give up. My writing was not "literary" enough, I concluded.
But neither is a lot of other writing that's published. A good story, however, is a good story--literary or not. And a good storyteller shines through whether they write stories acclaimed by "The New Yorker" or not.
I'm a good storyteller, a creative thinker, and (I can finally say it) a good writer of what will be considered mainstream or genre fiction. The difference between the two is that literary fiction is considered to have greater character development and psychological depth, while mainstream fiction is more concerned with narrative and plot.
That is not a hard and fast rule. The characters in my upcoming Whirlwomen Trilogy will be memorable and psychologically dimensional. There will be passages of fine prose. The reader will be satisfied when they read that final sentence. And that right there is literary enough for me.
Oh and one more thing! I DID get accepted by to submit my request for publication, marketing and distribution funding for "Flung" the first Whirlwomen novel. More on that later.

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