Genre Fiction vs. Literary Fiction

As an aspiring writer I often peruse literary magazines, writing competitions, basically any organization that will give me money in exchange for my work. Seriously, I’m not picky. I am, however tired of seeing something in most of these places.

We are not accepting genre fiction

First and foremost I really hate the term ‘Genre Fiction”. It was brand new term to me about a decade ago and it took a little research to understand that it was exactly what it sounded like, a story that fits into a certain genre. It made stories easier to classify.

I call bullshit on this kind of elitist crap. EVERYTHING that has ever been written fits into a damn genre. I mean when was the last time you walked into a library and saw the “Literary” section. Or what I like to call ‘I’m a special perfect snowflake and I stand out because I’m different and serious’ section.

So here’s the thing. People like to claim that Literary Fiction was written in order to provoke thought and emotion. It’s done to create discussion and cause you to sit back and understand the world a little better.

But if genre fiction isn’t doing that for you then perhaps you aren’t reading the right stuff or bothering to look deeper. That’s your problem, not a genres. If you can’t be prompted to talk about the allegory between the Capital and Capitalism, or why the Peculiar Children of Miss Peregrine have to hide the things that make them unique, or even why Claire the Outlander struggles to change the future while remaining in the past…then you’re doing it wrong.

I feel that literary fiction spoon feeds you what popular fiction hints at. Neither is any better than the other. However, the people who are literary fanboys make it a genre (because it’s totally a genre) that I don’t want to be a part of.

I want to support everyone’s reading habits. I don’t care if they match up with my own. Hell, I’m happiest if they don’t. What I don’t like is people thinking they are better than me because their books aren’t driven by plot.


3 thoughts on “Genre Fiction vs. Literary Fiction

  1. I love literary fiction, and I love genre fiction, and I especially love books that combine the two such as Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go,” etc. I consider the difference between lit fic and genre fic NOT to be a quality judgment, but simply what the book focuses on — a concrete plot, or something more abstract (emotion, intellectual concepts, etc). That doesn’t mean each has only one or the other! Not at all! It just means, in my mind anyway, that one is at the forefront, more emphasized. True, there are a lot of literary writers who get elitist about it – I don’t approve of that attitude. Both kinds of books are great and serve different purposes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you make a VERY good point (seriously how great is Atwood?) the best authors know how to blend the two together in such a seamless way that we can’t tell what is which and whether or not it matters.

      I think I just have an issue with elitism in general. But I’ve come across it recently with the literary fiction world.

      Liked by 1 person

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