My husband just asked me if I wrote literary fiction. I explained that I write commercial fiction. He inquired, “What’s the difference.” Then I got all tongue-tied trying to explain the difference between literary fiction and commercial fiction. I decided to give myself a quiz to see what in the world I wrote.
Answer True or False
1) My books are full of poetic descriptions of place, written so beautifully that many readers say they read the paragraph several times to absorb it.
2) The plot in my books is very hard to find. Not much is going on. It’s more of a story about people and their relationships to each other than it is about action.
3) There’s a strong theme with a message in my books. The theme is either philosophical or political. In other words, my books make a point on some issue or another.
4) I’m more of a character driven writer than a plot driven writer.
5) The characters in my books spend a lot of time ruminating over things in their lives.
6) I don’t have a lot of suspense in my books. People read the books for something other than the thrill of suspense.
7) My books tend to be rather long, usually at least 100,000 words sometimes more.
8) There’s not a lot of dialogue between characters in my books. There is more internal dialogue.
9) My historical fiction tends to give a lot of detail about the past and that often relates to the theme at hand.
10) My books don’t fit in any of the usual genre categories–mystery, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, YA…
Very simple test. If you answered “Yes” to 7 or more of these questions, you write literary fiction. Otherwise, consider yourself the scribe of commercial fiction.
BTW, I write commercial fiction. What about you?