Literary fiction is frequently regarded as being superior to genre literature, which is seen as being more marketable.
In other words, literary fiction is regarded by many authors as a real kind of art, whereas genre fiction appears to belong to a different category—that of a work of fiction that is not art. Some people even go so far as to say that literary fiction is more valuable than money-making genre fiction.
The first and most crucial thing to remember is that literary fiction is a genre, and as with any genre, you have to grasp what it is, what its unspoken rules are, what its readers expect from it, and much more.
Literary fiction: What is it?
Say you’ve made the decision to compose a work of literary fiction. But you’ve also developed interesting characters and a well-defined narrative. In fact, your agent is trying to decide whether to attempt to market your manuscript as a literary novel or as a genre novel because the narrative is so action-packed. How would you proceed?
If we see literary fiction as simply another genre, and we’ll speak more about that later, the best course of action is to constantly investigate the needs of the genre. The categories “literary excellence,” “commentary,” “philosophy,” and the others are all somewhat ambiguous.
Does a book qualify as literary if it has just one thought-provoking sentence?
Does it matter if your story depicts real-life incidents and features individuals who learn to better themselves throughout, but the philosophy is not ever spelled out in lengthy paragraphs and sentences?
Does your novel’s literary excellence somehow suffer from the inclusion of literary criticism in a different genre?
The solution to it is not straightforward, especially given the wide range of conflicting viewpoints available. Make sure you finish the novel you wish to finish. Allow yourself to write it as is if your ideas and the views of your characters tend to be philosophical.
In the end, there is nothing wrong with you if you decide to abandon literary fiction and refer to your book as a genre novel.
There are books that fall into the most popular genre category among the most popular literary novels. And regardless of its level of financial success, if your book has literary worth, it will unquestionably be moved into the literary fiction category.
The Art of Literary Fiction Writing
It’s time to examine the literary fiction novel’s structure now that we have (attempted to) describe literary fiction in a rather comprehensive manner. Even if literary fiction’s expectations might be a little tricky to articulate, it doesn’t imply they can’t be.
If all of this sounds like too much work considering the amount of time you have, then consider literary fiction ghostwriters, who can save you time, and effort within a flexible budget.
Moreover, if literary worth serves as the criterion for judging a work of literary fiction, then we may attempt to dissect this merit into palatable nuggets of advice that you can utilize to your advantage.
So let’s look at how to write a literary fiction novel that will win over the critics while also providing your readers with a ton of entertainment.
The significance of the plot
Many authors believe that dynamic, lifelike characters, which can become our own images in the tale and allow us to experience and learn from it via them, rather than the plot, are what make readers sigh after finishing a book.
Although engaging characters with whom we can identify help us to experience the tale firsthand, it is the storyline that makes us feel satisfied, the knowledge that we have read a complete narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and finish, as well as most crucially, a purpose.
A literary novel’s storyline is character-based, whereas the plot of a typical genre novel would be action-based. This is the key distinction between the two types of novels. In a literary novel, the story is more concerned with who it happens to be—the internal plot—than it is with what actually occurs in the conventional genre of fiction. Additionally, creating a plot may be done most quickly in three steps:
The event or occurrence that begins the tale is known as the inciting incident.
Plot Point 1: Whenever the protagonist in the tale chooses the wrong course of action.
Plot Point 2: Near the conclusion of the story, the protagonist makes the proper choice, which results in the climax.
The personas, by which your readers will view the tale, as was already stated, are the characters. Thus they are crucial. Audiences have to be able to relate to your characters, regardless of the perspective you employ to narrate the tale. The secondary characters who can show up in a literary work, when the story is primarily internal:
- Major supporting characters travel with the protagonist all through the story.
- When necessary, minor characters that are recurring characters will emerge.
A character arc should exist for each character in your book. Numerous characters in a literary work may each have their own tales and arcs, which are typically related to a concept.
A novel can only contain so many themes and ideas; therefore, it’s important to make sure they work in harmony with one another. Additionally, exercise caution while employing them; there are only so many subjects you can satisfactorily address without overwhelming your audience.
For instance, if you’re attempting to address sensitive topics like domestic abuse and rape, be sure to give them the respect they deserve. Without this, a lot of readers who have really gone through these things would feel disappointed or, worse still, wounded and disrespected.
How to create a Character-focused story
Characters will often drive the storyline in a literary work. If we follow the advice we previously gave for developing a plot, we will have the inciting incident, narrative point one, in which the protagonist makes the incorrect choice, and plot point two, in which the protagonist makes the correct decision.
Plot point one should ideally occur at the conclusion of the first act, and the inciting occurrence should occur towards the midpoint of the first act. The second plot point signals the conclusion of the second act, and the resolution is found in the third act.
In a genre book, the inciting event and the first narrative point may occur much earlier, with the majority of the book concentrating on the 2nd and 3rd acts.
On the other hand, the turning point and two narrative points will be entirely internal in a literary work where the story is led by character instead of action. In this case, what really occurs is less important to us than the protagonist’s reaction to it.
Your protagonist has to embark on a spiritual or mental trip; although this journey should be prompted by and impacted by outside circumstances, the main conflict of the story is what the protagonist learns along the route.
Developing your unique style and voice
Every writer has their own distinct writing voice and style. Literary fiction is no exception to the rule that authors have varied voices and writing styles for different novels and series. Your first work of literary fiction will vary from your second and so forth.
How do you develop your style and voice then? Additionally, how can you be certain that your work will pass the “literary prose” test?
Reading literary fiction is the finest course of action. Keep in mind that you internalize whatever you read. And although you may not be aware of it, you could find yourself repeating beloved passages from your favorite novels. As a result, writing comes second, followed by more writing.