Sunday, March 4, 2007

Literary vs Genre Fiction

A funny thing happened in the college testing center the other day - an English professor came in and proceeded to discuss his "real" job which is a Literary Editor for one of the MAJOR universities here in Texas. I won't give the professor's name or the institution, but what I do want to write about is the topic of conversation, which turned out to be literary fiction, and how it differs from genre fiction.

Bear in mind that these are his views and nothing I came up with on my own. So, don't blast me later.

For instance this professor said that he considers literary fiction boring as the authors either don't know or don't care about creating a page turning novel. All the elements that genre fiction novelists strive so hard to attain in order to keep reader interest - i.e. plot, structure, action, etc. - the literary author doesn't care a whit about. Literary authors meander on and on and write as the muse dictates.

This literary editor also said that literary authors don't bother too much with proper punctuation, especially commas. Commas are meant to mean "pause" to the reader and therefore the literary author puts commas in at his/her discretion so that the words will "flow" as the author intends. Authors are more concerned with "flowable prose" than with grammar, punctuation, and storytelling skill!!!!

The last thing this professor said that made me gasp was that he never changes nor recommends changes to an author's work. The author is the AUTHOR OF THE WORK and as such, always knows best. LOL Makes me wonder just what this professor does to actually earn his pay as a literary editor??

So, the next time you read literary fiction and you find punctuation errors that make you cringe, remember that unlike genre fiction where, to everyone's chagrin, mistakes accidently slip through - mistakes in literary fiction are intentional!!! They really DID mean to do that!!



  1. LOL! That's pretty mind boggling to think about. I guess he earns his money reading something he'd rather not be reading?

    I know I'd have to be paid to do that!

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  4. Well, I intended to write all the mistakes that you might find in my writing, as well. Yeah, right! LOL

  5. Diana, that's incredible--truth IS stranger than fiction!
    Side note: To let everyone know what just happened here, I delete the two duplicates of Pauline's comment--there wasn't anything wrong with them, it was the same thing three times in a row, just a double hiccup I guess? I'll never be able to completely figure out the internet!