Let us not quibble about definitions. Writers and readers know what I mean. These are the novels that offer an experience that cannot be slotted into any genre category, stories that move the mind and the heart, and explore the human condition by authors whose need to tell these long stories of the imagination is a sacred calling.
For fiction writers in search of a publishing outlet, these are the best of times. For fiction writers in search of readers, this is the worst of times. For fiction writers in search of monetary rewards it is, for most, a disaster.
The challenges for genre fiction writers, those who fashion their stories within the confines of categories such as mysteries, romance, fantasy, zombies, vampires, erotic, and all the subgenres within them, are enormous. If such writers are unbranded and unknown, the odds of finding readership traction in an arena where thousands enter the fray daily are daunting.
Read more: Fiction in Flux
I have been baffled for years over what constitutes the definition of a “literary” novel. Over the course of my career, I have heard numerous definitions, but none quite resonate for me as the one gold standard, definitive answer.
In search of this definition, I am tempted to discount all of the various genre novels, many of which are well written and exemplary, but they do suggest formula and have been slotted by common publishing practice to fit a category that does not suggest “literary.”
Read more: What Is a Literary Novel?
It is a strange phenomenon and most authors of fiction appear to confirm it. They are always asked the same three questions. Whether the questions are asked in a formal interview setting or by readers, non-readers, fans, or casual acquaintances in every conceivable social setting . The three questions cross boundaries of country, language, age, and gender.
They are always the same and asked in exactly the same order. These are the questions:
Read more: The Three Questions for Authors