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Thread: Genre vs Literary ???

  1. #1
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    Literary vs. Genre Writers

    Quote Originally Posted by job View Post
    Fiction is story. Not theme, not plot, not message.
    Excuse me but all the "stories" you cited have a message-- Fiction stories all have themes, and all have plots.

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    The only difference between literature and genre fiction is that literature is usually written by a master writer who often takes risks no genre writer would try-- Genre is written to a list of publication rules generally provided by the publisher or a how to write book, and yes, there is "experimental" literature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
    The only difference between literature and genre fiction is that literature is usually written by a master writer who often takes risks no genre writer would try-- Genre is written to a list of publication rules generally provided by the publisher or a how to write book, and yes, there is "experimental" literature.
    I beg your pardon? Literature writers are masters and us lowly genre writers are....what? What "genre fiction" are you referring to here?
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    crazy spec fic writer L M Ashton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
    The only difference between literature and genre fiction is that literature is usually written by a master writer who often takes risks no genre writer would try-- Genre is written to a list of publication rules generally provided by the publisher or a how to write book, and yes, there is "experimental" literature.
    Oh, excuse me while I have a good laugh.

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    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    The only difference between literature and genre fiction is that literature ...
    ...has a different publisher's logo on the spine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
    Genre is written to a list of publication rules generally provided by the publisher or a how to write book, and yes, there is "experimental" literature.
    OMG. Really????

    Dang. If only I had known there was a how-to book for writing SF/F, I could have saved ever so much time.

    (Goes off to check Amazon.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
    The only difference between literature and genre fiction is that literature is usually written by a master writer who often takes risks no genre writer would try-- Genre is written to a list of publication rules generally provided by the publisher or a how to write book, and yes, there is "experimental" literature.
    I don't know if this was intentional or merely a poor choice of words - but you've managed to dismiss an entire segment of writers - us lowly, formulaic genre writers
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    Around and About SuperModerator Birol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    I don't know if this was intentional or merely a poor choice of words - but you've managed to dismiss an entire segment of writers - us lowly, formulaic genre writers
    I'm leaning toward a poor choice of words.

  8. #8
    Teh doommobile, drivin' rite by you mscelina's Avatar
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    Actually, UseHerName, genre writers are usually more than adept at writing to a structure, despite your strangely disturbing comment. Judging from the thread you started about structure, I'd venture to guess that this is your pet hobbyhorse and you're determined to ride it until it's dead. However, I'd be very leery of dismissing genre writers quite that expeditiously if I were you.

    I'd also like to pass on a wee bit of advice: it doesn't how much structure your story has if the story sucks. Period. Whether you're writing to some perceived elite in the reading public as the OP apparently is, or whether you're some genre hack who combines the Hero's Journey with a schematic stolen directly from playwriting (like, oh, me for example) if the story isn't compelling all of the structure in the world isn't going to help your story and it doesn't matter how loud and long you bemoan the plebian tastes of the publishing industry. Story is key.

    Cursed, write the story that you are compelled to write--with the purpose of keeping the story entertaining and fresh. Don't worry about who your audience is--that doesn't matter two beans unless you're contracted and looking for a marketing demographic. If the story can stand on its own, and provide entertainment to your audience, all of those matters will take care of themselves. Just write the book.

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  9. #9
    In the end, it's just you and the manuscript job's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
    Excuse me but all the "stories" you cited have a message-- .
    Well ... yes.
    (insert icon of puzzlement here)

    I picked three 'stories' that also had a message.
    The point I was, subtly, making was that good stories generally have both message and story.

    If I had come up with three stories that had no message, the O.P. might have thought 'story' and 'message' did not work and play well together.




    Quote Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
    Fiction stories all have themes, and all have plots. .
    OK.
    Yes.


    Quote Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
    The only difference between literature and genre fiction is that literature is usually written by a master writer who often takes risks no genre writer would try-- Genre is written to a list of publication rules generally provided by the publisher or a how to write book, and yes, there is "experimental" literature.

    Hmmmm ...

    Literary Fiction Writer: Proud, free master artist, unafraid to take tremendous risks.

    Genre Writer: Talentless hack and stooge of the commercial pulp fiction establishment, pusillanimously following cookie-cutter instructions


    Weeellll .....
    I have to disagree with that assessment.

    I'd say the woods are full of damn fine writers who produce Westerns, Romances, Mysteries, Science Fiction. Erotica, Action-adventure, Fantasy, Woman's Fiction and other genre works.


    The lasting merit of these genre works can be seen by the sale of Westerns, Romances, Mysteries, Horror, S.F. etc., in print, at Amazon, thrity, fifty, and a hundred years after their copyright.
    Austen, Lovecraft, Sayers, Christie, Collins, Mitchell, Grey, Shelley, Heinlein, Doyle, Asimov, Chandler ... there's no end to the list. These examples of pure unaashed genre live.


    That is not to knock 'Literary Fiction'. There are, without doubt, hundreds of 'experimental,' 'literary' 'works of fiction', also listed at Amazon, also in print decade after decade, that renew themselves to an excited and voracious readership with each passing year.

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    Around and About SuperModerator Birol's Avatar
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    The literary and genre discussion has been split from the What if your novel... thread. Job and Celina, your posts from above appear in both threads.

    Remember, it's okay to show your passion, but you must also own your words and actions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
    The only difference between literature and genre fiction is that literature is usually written by a master writer who often takes risks no genre writer would try-- Genre is written to a list of publication rules generally provided by the publisher or a how to write book, and yes, there is "experimental" literature.
    state your sources, please...

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by Use Her Name
    The only difference between literature and genre fiction is that literature is usually written by a master writer who often takes risks no genre writer would try-- Genre is written to a list of publication rules generally provided by the publisher or a how to write book, and yes, there is "experimental" literature.
    I read and write both literary (although I prefer to call it "contemporary") fiction and genre fiction as well as some non-fiction for grins, and this comment doesn't make sense to me. There is a place for all types of writing, and there are varying levels of risk-taking regardless of genre (or non-genre, as the case may be).

  13. #13
    Stand in the Place Where You Live KTC's Avatar
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    You're not giving this idea the honor it deserves. Mayhaps literary writers are MASTERS. Just maybe.


    Kevin, who keeps hearing that his writing is 'literary' and keeps looking for a positive slant on this curse.

    With all due respect, though... I think you should re-think your stand on this one, Use Her Name... it is way off.

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    Wait...if genera has no message in them, then I think there are a lot less genera books out there than we think. Like say...none.

    Seriously, even the most basic thriller novel has at least some kind of message. The better ones actually have lots of them. The way I sees it is Literature buries the message under symbolic stuff and character interaction (like Watchmen), and Genera keeps it more out on the sleeve by having it done by character and plot interactions.

    Like, say, Kitty and the Midnight Hour is about overcoming adversary. Or, say, For the Emperor is about a man forced into a position he doesn't want by an uncaring and cruel society. Except, unlike lit books that tackle the same issues, they have werewolves and space orks.
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    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    Sooo...what are you going to say since literary fiction is considered a genre by many publishers?
    I still poop rainbows.

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  16. #16
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    Literary is just another genre.

    (In my opinion.)

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Beth Bernobich View Post
    Literary is just another genre.

    (In my opinion.)
    I agree.

  18. #18
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    Well, well, well, the old argument is back. When I saw it in the original thread, I knew it was inevitable.

    I'm truly kerfuddled by the "risks" these bold Jedi (er, literary) masters take. Seems to me that all writers take risks, lit or genre or anyone in between. Sitting down at your keyboard is a huge risk unless you're already established with contract in hand. No matter what kind of fiction you write, you're putting huge hunks of time and effort on the line, and often a sizeable lump of your heart as well, and no guarantee that anyone's going to like it or buy it.

    As for the blanket statement that genre fiction is written to a list of rules or according to the dictates of a how to book, sorry, simply inaccurate. At one end of the spectrum, you will find category novels that do conform to some general publisher's guidelines, the various Harlequin lines, for example. This is not to say that a Harlequin is easy to turn out or devoid of originality, however. Crowding up on the other end of the spectrum are most genre novels which follow broad traditions based on reader expectations. These traditions are not rules, nor are they any more restrictive than the "literary" traditions: the academic novel, the bildungsroman, the take-off on ancient tropes, and so forth. Then, on the far end of the spectrum, are the genre-stretchers and the genre experimentals, both of which can make new traditions.

    Often people distinguish the literary from mainstream or genre with the claim that the literary is, well, just better written, with deeper characterization, and, gee, just lots more INTELLECT. These are the same people who often find themselves forced into a corner by a "masterful" genre work, which they quickly label "literary mystery," "literary science fiction," "a western of literary merit," et cetera.

    Bah. As far as I can tell, literary fiction today is distinguished from everything else by an even obsessive emphasis on language and form. It has many of the aspirations of poetry. That's it. Within those boundaries, it can be good, or it can suck. Just like everything else.

  19. #19
    Teh doommobile, drivin' rite by you mscelina's Avatar
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    well...I think the perception she's operating from is that literary requires a 'higher' style than other forms of literature. I have, however, seen lots of SFF that has a 'high' style writing-wise. I don't think the literary style is bound to just one genre of book.

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW Danger Jane's Avatar
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    Literature isn't a separate entity from genre/literary/marketing niches. Literature is the small set of all stories that touch a deeper part of human consciousness. Often it is remembered for decades, even centuries, after it is written. Some of it is genre. Some of it is not. Would you argue that a master like Jules Verne is nothing but a cookie-cutter book-factory hack, simply because he wrote science fiction?

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW Jake Barnes's Avatar
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    Could somebody give me the publication rules regarding thrillers? I'm trying to write one and I'm not sure I'm doing it right. Actually, this might make an interesting thread.

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    Hmm, I am composing my paranormal suspense thrillers with the intent to entertain and hopefully scare the you-know-what out of my future readers. I am hard pressed to think of a message they might contain since I am not consciously including one ....

    Should I be worried?

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  23. #23
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    Oh god, not another thread where a horde of critiquers/insecure writers try to put their favourite genre novels on the same footing as real literature . . .

    This is like that guy who tried to lose weight eating only McDonald's just to be an annoying contrarian. McDonald's will always be shit, and genre fiction will rarely be more than a good read. Writers ought to be okay with the status of "good read". There's nothing wrong with that. You don't need to make these outrageous claims that you're just as good as John Updike or James Joyce, because nobody with a fifth of a functional brain would ever think that.

  24. #24
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    I think Ursula K. Le Guin has the healthiest and most well thought out approach to the genre-literary-message-theme-whatever conundrum, and I'd recommend everyone read this essay on the subject, which I discovered with the help of fellow AWer Danger Jane:

    http://www.cbcbooks.org/cbcmagazine/..._ursula_k.html

    Which is technically about children's fiction but still has bearing on this discussion, imo.
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    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danger Jane View Post
    Would you argue that a master like Jules Verne is nothing but a cookie-cutter book-factory hack, simply because he wrote science fiction?
    Well, actually, I'd hold H. G. Wells up as an example of early spec fic literary excellence, but Verne has his moments.

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