Literary vs. Genre

I’ve joined a book club. And I’m loving it! I love the intellectual discussions. I love that I’m reading books I would never choose on my own. And I love being with people whose differences enrich my life.

What I’ve found I’m not particularly fond of is literary fiction. Isn’t all fiction literary? Well, technically yes. But there’s two broad categories that readers use to separate fictional tales. These are literary fiction and genre fiction. There’re many theories about the differences, and the line between them can be blurred. But generally, literary fiction is intended to help you understand reality better, and genre fiction is intended to help you escape reality and be entertained.

What I’ve found with literary fiction is this:

  • It tends to be written in a shallow point of view.
  • It tends to contain a lot of “telling” and exposition and backstory.
  • It tends to make the reader feel like they are being told a story.
  • It tends to have opportunities for the plot to go in exciting directions and then goes nowhere.

What I’ve found with genre fiction is this:

  • It tends to be written in deep point of view.
  • It tends to keep the reader in the moment, leaving backstory and explanations to be derived from current action.
  • It tends to make the reader feel like they are the protagonist, experiencing the story for themselves.
  • It tends to be exciting and unexpected and fast paced.

What about you? Do you have a preferred type of novel? Have you noticed any differences I didn’t list here or do you know of any stereotypes that may or may not be true? Or is this the first you’re hearing of these two categories?

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Pleasant penning,

Rachel E. Newman, CP
Freelance Editor and Indexer
Certified Paralegal


Rachel E. Newman holds a BS degree from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. She is a member of the Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, is certified with the Christian Editor Connection, serves as a judge for the Excellence in Editing Award, and serves as a faculty member for PENCON, the only conference for editors in the Christian market.





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