Genre vs. Literary

It used to bother me a great deal when writers I respected felt the need to knock one or the other (always the side he didn’t write in–go figger). Many writers I respect still do this. Either they claim that literary stories are all navel-gazing bullshit wrapped in pretty but meaningless words, or that genre fiction is the reading choice of the mostly ignorant and culture-deprived.

Broad brushes suck. Some literary fiction is fantastic, and some isn’t very good. The same goes for genre fiction, whatever the genre might be. I don’t read romance or mysteries because I don’t care for them. Yet I don’t insist that romance and mysteries are for mouth-breathers. Stop. It.

I write both genre and literary stories and poetry. I will hold my hand up and admit that I can write a competent to pretty darn good horror story easier than I can write a competent to pretty darn good literary one. I’m still getting there, and one is more of a struggle than the other. But I’m enjoying the journey, I enjoy the writing, and that’s what matters the most to me. That matters far, far more to me than what some other writers think of my chosen topic, believe me.

Every story I write or read doesn’t have to change my life. But when I want one of those, whether by attempting to create it or by consuming it, that doesn’t mean I see all genre fiction as disposable, forgettable tripe. I refuse to be either embarrassed by my genre stories, or by all the literary fiction I attempt to write. I’ll write what I feel and what I love that very day, and it will be what it is.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 at 12:05 am and is filed under Thoughts about Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. May 25th, 2011 | Madeline Mora-Summonte says:

    A good story is a good story no matter if it’s mystery, romance, literary etc. I aim to write good stories. 🙂

  2. May 25th, 2011 | Shelley says:

    That’s a great way of looking at it, Madeline. I’m gonna ‘me too’ that!

  3. May 31st, 2011 | Sealey says:

    Personally I’m confused by labels like “genre” and “literary” anyway 😛 *shrug* You’re right, write what you feel that day and don’t be embarrassed by ANY of it–I like that approach.

  4. June 1st, 2011 | Milo James Fowler says:

    To loosely quote Horton the Elephant: “A good story’s a good story no matter what genre.” On a related note, my story “Grandpa’s Bluetooth” was published by Liquid Imagination this week under their “literary fiction section” — even though it has very speculative elements. So go figure. Anyhow, keep doing what you’re doing, and congrats on your May Marionette WIN!

  5. June 1st, 2011 | Simon Kewin says:

    Great post; couldn’t have put it better myself. I so agree. Funny how some speculative fiction mysteriously becomes “literary” when it’s sufficiently old and respected.

    Congrats on the May Marionette too.

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