1. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    So Who's the Audience for Literary Fiction?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Catrin Lewis, Apr 19, 2016.

    I've got yet another beta reader looking at my novel, and in her opinion, it's not romantic suspense, it's literary fiction. I'm afraid she might be right, but I'm not up to rewriting the story to correct that. At this point I just want to be done with the stupid thing.

    So if it is literary fiction, can a novel like that have a suspense plot? How about romance with a HEA? Does Literary Fiction have to have an esoteric storyline? (Mine doesn't.) Does the language have to be super-duper poetic? (I doubt mine is.)

    Is anyone on this forum actually writing literary fiction? Or even genre fiction that doesn't fit the typical mold? What audience are you pitching it to, and how? I don't want to deceive potential readers or scare them off, either one.

    From my experience with my betas, I know the story can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages, sexes, and educational levels. But these days "They" tell you to focus in on a particular demographic for marketing purposes. But which?

    I'm flailing here. Throwing of life preservers appreciated.
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes. Most literary has a genre core. They just don't separate them onto specific shelves because it would confuse readers who are looking for something more formulated.

    I am. Or at least a hybrid. Literary sci-fi, Literary fantasy. Literary psychological thriller. I have no idea how I'm going to sell it. The biggest issue will be that query to the agent and nailing a good tagline. Focus on the most interesting point of the story and don't worry about trying to compare yourself to other writers. Let the story sell itself.
    You look at some literary writers like Chuck Palahnuik, Cormac McCarthy, Karen Russell. I don't know how they did it, they're hardly genre, but it must've been on the strength on how they worded their ideas.
     
  3. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here's my tagline: For what would you sell your soul? For what would you be willing to die?

    Which I suppose puts it right out there that the resolution of the suspense or romantic subplots aren't the main point of the novel. So, LF?
     
  4. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    I don't think you should see your story not fitting nicely into a genre as something that needs to be corrected. That's not a flaw and rewriting it to be more like other things would probably just make it worse. Honestly, if I had written something that didn't quite fit somewhere I'd just send it off to be read and hope the publishers like it enough. Maybe people read through a whole book and enjoy it and then realize it wasn't quite the genre it was advertised to be and reject it, but I just don't see that being the make it or break it. Again, I'm not sure, but I don't see the need to stress about strictly conforming to categories that invariably overlap anyway.
     
  5. SadStories
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    I have vampires, lots of suspense and all kinds of weird things, but I still consider what I'm doing to be literary fiction. Imo what makes literary fiction into literary fiction is above all that it has a self-conscious relationship to itself. While you're writing, you're dealing with the idea of why we write and how in the world we should write, it's more philosophical and malleable, whereas genre fiction is more like a handicraft where there are standards to keep and promises to hold. Like anywhere else though, there are "trends" in literary fiction. Like 20-30 years ago almost everyone did structurally complex, fairly cold, somewhat satirical novels, etc., like Don DeLillo and Bret Easton Ellis. These days "good old-fashioned storytelling" seems to be coming back, with something that looks like a modern take on 19th century novels - with writers like Donna Tartt, Jonathan Franzen, the recently rediscovered John Edward Williams, Elena Ferrante, Cormac McCarthy etc. Though I'm sure there are examples, I'm not sure how likely it is to "accidentally" write literary fiction. You have to sort of know the vogue and all the little, unwritten rules. It's like if you walk into a random neighborhood and try to blend in, and everyone can tell you didn't grow up there.

    To me it sounds like your friend was giving you a compliment though. It sounds like you're doing a lot more than is expected of your genre. In a market seeking transcendence, this sounds like just the novel to have written! Congratulations, lol.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016

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