by Dina L. Sleiman
The point can’t be to wound. The point must be to heal.
Lately I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what “literary fiction” is. Some say it excels in artistry and use of literary devices. Some say it focuses on character and theme more than plot. Some say it seeks to enrich more than entertain. On the other hand, some say it asks questions without answering them, or it’s depressing, or worst of all, that it’s written by pretentious snobs who think they’re too good for popular fiction. Given such a vast array of definitions, here’s my take.
Literary fiction: a rather useless term used by some as a compliment and others as an insult.
I’ve been called…or accused of being …a literary writer. And that’s not surprising since I’ve taught literature. I do give attention artistry and literary devices. I do tend to focus on theme more than plot and enriching more than entertaining. But most importantly, I want to write stories that change lives.
Fiction that cuts deep and changes lives can come in all sorts of packages. Readers have come to expect it in literary writing and angsty women’s fiction. But I’ve also found it in the romance novels of Ruth Axtel Morren. I’ve found it in the demented thrillers of Steven James, and the hysterical chick lit of Siri Mitchell.
Changing lives is what truly matters. Add in some artistic elements, as the above authors most certainly do, and you might just get the compliment…or insult…of being called a literary author. I’m not going to concern myself with the label anymore.
Ideally, quality Christian fiction should both entertain and enrich. That’s my goal. I want my writing to attract readers interest and then seep down in their hearts to change them in some small...or big...way. Most importantly, I want my writing to advance God’s kingdom on earth.
What is your definition for quality fiction? What do you look for in a novel? What does it take for a book to truly move you?