Literary Fiction

Everything about this guy intrigues me. His age. His thousand-mile gaze. The dapper tilt of his bowler hat that doesn’t quite match the expression in his eyes. The silken strands of gray curling at his ear and over his collar that contrast with the prickly stubble on his chin.

Who is he? The water tower in the background hints of a steam engine train; perhaps he was once a vagabond–a depression era hobo, riding the rails from town to town unbeknownst to the engineer. Where had he gone? What had he seen? What does he see now?

I can’t imagine telling his story in simple genre fiction. I love the disparity: a humble story written with a lofty pen.

I’ve always wanted to write literary fiction, particularly now, now that I’m away from the influence of college professors whose choices in literature make me cringe even today. More recently, I’ve read literary books that have touched me more than those chosen before–with exception of The Sea Wolf by Jack London, from my Literature of the Sea course. That one still fascinates me.

Literary fiction isn’t necessarily an exercise in high-falutin’ vocabulary, but it is a style of refined expression. Stories are often told in a dispassionate voice, seen through an analytical eye, and layered to an almost fathomless depth. The surface holds a story anyone would enjoy; but scratch the surface and the strata are revealed and laid open as far as the reader would like to dig. And sewn through each literary piece is the common thread of an “-ology”–theology, psychology, sociology–or their cousin filaments, philosophy, morality, and ethics.

It’s the genre of thinkers, and I believe it would be the most challenging genre to write. Which is why I want to try it. Me. The author who struggles over romance plots.

Literary fiction isn’t popular these days. For novels that are rising in popularity, turn to fantasy and all its subgenres. For novels that sell the most and have the most loyal following, turn to romance and all its subgenres. For novels that keep readers glued in their seats with anticipation, turn to thrillers, suspense, espionage, intrigue.

But for novels that hold the interest of only a small portion of the reading public, turn to literary.

Still, writing at least one is on my bucket list.


About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in Misc., Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Literary Fiction

  1. Naomi Musch says:

    I love the way you define literary. I, too, would add that goal of writing style to my bucket list — to be able to write with a dispassionate voice, layered at a fathomless depth. Superb.


  2. That is indeed a lofty goal, one I am sure you will master one day, and you are right, those are the books that do more than just entertain, they teach and sometimes change the way we think. We need both the entertainment and the literary. The picture does inspire an author to dig down and find this man’s story and share it with the world. Go for it, Linda. We will all be here to applaud when you write, The End, in a such a classic way.


  3. Joanne Sher says:

    Go for it, girl! 🙂


  4. And those stories that lean to literary style often are the award winners. I love the flair of a literary writer, the sometimes lyrical style. It isn’t purple prose but it comes close to it without stepping over the line. Yet I find it hard to take it in large doses and don’t gravitate to an entire book of that style, preferring popular fiction. Yes the romance (I write it what can I say?) that is laced with a women’s fiction type dose of issues. Not the cookie-cutter type of romance. That has it’s place and sells like hotcakes, but I need some meat along with the roses and soft violin music LOL.


    • I hear ya about the meat. And I wonder why we couldn’t incorporate a lyrical style in popular fiction. I’d bet there is a place for it in certain scenes–contemplative scenes, for instance.


  5. K.M. Weiland says:

    I agree! My first thought opening this post was, “What a great picture!”


  6. He looks Irish to me. The Irish were among the first to settle into Spanish ruled Texas. There has got to be some great stories in that history.


  7. cleemckenzie says:

    You’re right. He begs for a well-told and lofty tale. Let’s see what you come up with. Good luck.


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