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jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#41
My fantasy coming out next year is a literary fantasy. (Ha! That will shock my fans who think I only write snappy sf :D) Why? Because it's also very Irish in voice and, frankly, Ireland does literary. Big time. Many of the writers sre funded by the arts council and, in the Republic of Ireland, tax laws are very beneficial to writers of any ilk. (If I ever hit it big, I'll have to move up north and go live down south in Donegal....) So, yeah - whilst it's in a modern voice we have lots of descriptions of picturesque glens.

On the other subject - copyright exists from the moment you first start your book @Lyric Blade and you don't have to do anything to retain it. And I often hear writers reluctant to have work critted etc for fear of the idea being stolen. Frankly, every writer has their own ideas that they're passionate enough to go through the hell of writing a novel for. The chance of any of them wanting to steal your idea is tiny. I really think it's not worth worrying about.

(For very good critiquing and a strong aspiring writers section I very much recommend the sffchronicles.com. They have the strongest writing section with knowledgeable authors - many multi-published - and editors as regular contributors.)
 

Diziet Sma

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#42
This Literary Fiction concept is new to me and I’m find it rather confusing. After looking it up, I’m still not sure I grasp what it entitles. Is this a categorisation used by publishers regarding their selling approach, or is it a subdivision from Fiction itself? I beginning to think Literary Fiction is perhaps typical in Anglo-Saxon countries. There is not such a definition in Spanish literature, and as far as I know, neither in the German nor in the French one. Maybe other non English speakers members can corroborate or correct me on this.
Does it mean that some works of Fantasy or Science Fiction could not be considered Literary Fiction?

If Literary Fiction means “serious fiction” with different covers, more “arty” tittles and tend to be more character driven and less concerned with a fast-paced plot, then does it mean Literary Fiction is related to the category of Intimist Novel?

"Some have described the difference between [literary and commercial fiction] in terms of analyzing reality (literary) rather than escaping reality (popular)."
Therefore, a fast paced novel, with fantastic characterisation, beautiful language, very reflective and introspective dialogs, which caricature and analyse deeply the social structure, would be a what?? I wouldn’t know now where to place my copy of Don Quixote…


By the same token, there are surely some books on the literary fiction shelf that one could choose to read purely for enjoyment. The reader's intent in picking up a book also affects how a book is experienced, and so whether something is experienced as 'genre' or 'literary' at least in part depends on the reader as much as it does on the author.
I completely agree with you on this. A high quality, serious literary work can be entertaining and enjoyable. The expectation about the reading experience is key in the process.
For example, some people enjoy reading Literay Criticism (@Tanniel ;)) others, like my sister, love Haiku poems. I find Haiku boring. She can’t connect with Fantasy and couldn’t finish LoTR. It is all down to the expected experience in acquiring pleasure, entertainment, knowledge etc through a book

*these include 'if the book's free, it's probably not very good', 'if the book's sold a lot early doors in the career they're probably not as good as everyone thinks', 'if the author's sold a lot of books overall they're probably at least fairly talented' and maybe a few others I haven't recognised. Most of my 'x is probably y' beliefs about books have little to do with price and sales though.
This was me a about 10 years ago. I have changed completely my approach about price/quality in literature. There are around (in BFBF) some wonderful literary gifts freely (or almost) available.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#43
This Literary Fiction concept is new to me and I’m find it rather confusing. After looking it up, I’m still not sure I grasp what it entitles. Is this a categorisation used by publishers regarding their selling approach, or is it a subdivision from Fiction itself? I beginning to think Literary Fiction is perhaps typical in Anglo-Saxon countries. There is not such a definition in Spanish literature, and as far as I know, neither in the German nor in the French one. Maybe other non English speakers members can corroborate or correct me on this.
Does it mean that some works of Fantasy or Science Fiction could not be considered Literary Fiction?

If Literary Fiction means “serious fiction” with different covers, more “arty” tittles and tend to be more character driven and less concerned with a fast-paced plot, then does it mean Literary Fiction is related to the category of Intimist Novel?



Therefore, a fast paced novel, with fantastic characterisation, beautiful language, very reflective and introspective dialogs, which caricature and analyse deeply the social structure, would be a what?? I wouldn’t know now where to place my copy of Don Quixote…




I completely agree with you on this. A high quality, serious literary work can be entertaining and enjoyable. The expectation about the reading experience is key in the process.
For example, some people enjoy reading Literay Criticism (@Tanniel ;)) others, like my sister, love Haiku poems. I find Haiku boring. She can’t connect with Fantasy and couldn’t finish LoTR. It is all down to the expected experience in acquiring pleasure, entertainment, knowledge etc through a book



This was me a about 10 years ago. I have changed completely my approach about price/quality in literature. There are around (in BFBF) some wonderful literary gifts freely (or almost) available.
'Literary fiction' is not a term that is used in Dutch. I therefore refrained from commenting, because that part of the discussion doesn't make sense to me.
 

Diziet Sma

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#44
'Literary fiction' is not a term that is used in Dutch. I therefore refrained from commenting, because that part of the discussion doesn't make sense to me.
I'm glad to hear it. I'm not the only one feeling left behind...:)
 
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jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#45
Mostly I see it as books that focus on the use of poetic and well thought out language as much as on the story itself. Which is not to say a writer of something more mainstream does not think of their language - but they do so with a different focus.

In my sf, for instance, I find words that convey energy and speed and tell a direct story. (My sf are not meant to be literary in any way.) But in Waters and the Wild I chose language that captured the feel of the place and was more evocative than straightforward.

So in writing both I choose my words but my focus is different in terms of what I want to do with them - and the evocative language dripping a sense of place is the more literary approach.

Does that make any sense?
 

Diziet Sma

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#46
Mostly I see it as books that focus on the use of poetic and well thought out language as much as on the story itself. Which is not to say a writer of something more mainstream does not think of their language - but they do so with a different focus.

In my sf, for instance, I find words that convey energy and speed and tell a direct story. (My sf are not meant to be literary in any way.) But in Waters and the Wild I chose language that captured the feel of the place and was more evocative than straightforward.

So in writing both I choose my words but my focus is different in terms of what I want to do with them - and the evocative language dripping a sense of place is the more literary approach.

Does that make any sense?
Thank you! It helps. I think. Actually, being honest, I think it is a very silly, unnecessary categorisation...;)
 

Diziet Sma

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#48
Ha! Ireland's literary scene would be non existent without it!
Oh no! I meant category as in labelling. Literature and musik wouldn’t be the same without the contribution from the Irish Melpomene Muse...;)
 

Tanniel

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#49
I beginning to think Literary Fiction is perhaps typical in Anglo-Saxon countries.
I think you are correct on this. I attended a lecture once about this concept existing in Anglo-Saxon universities; the idea that certain books hold merit because they discuss specific ideas. I can add that Danish does not adhere to this categorisation either.

My previous posts might sound like I agree with this concept (because I think there's a big difference whether you write a book for art or for entertainment purpose), but like other continental Europeans in here, I am actually rather baffled by it. It seems to attach merit or quality to primarily content (that the book must discuss certain topics or be written in a certain way) and excludes books written in certain genres (presumably including fantasy and science fiction), which is so absurd that I feel like I must have misunderstood it. Few genres are as adept at discussing existential themes as science fiction is, and fantasy is an amazing mirror held against society, showing us what heroes and values we esteem without necessarily knowing it.

I just don't see the purpose of pre-judging the qualities of a book based on what category or genre we would place it in.

My dislike against fiction written for entertainment purpose is simply because I fear it easily erodes towards lowest common denominator, while fiction written as art must at least make the attempt to break new ground, one way or the other. But I would never disqualify a book from being an artistic work simply because of its genre.

This was me a about 10 years ago. I have changed completely my approach about price/quality in literature.
We're making progress!
 

Theophania

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#50
On the other subject - copyright exists from the moment you first start your book @Lyric Blade and you don't have to do anything to retain it.
In the case of UK citizens, that's quite true and always has been (I don't know about Republic of Ireland) - but the situation as regards works created in the US is a bit more complicated. It used to be (before 1989) that US creators had to register their work for copyright to exist, but that's no longer the case. However, there are still some advantages to registration: for instance, before an infringement suit is started in a US court, registration of copyright is required for works of US origin. There is a factsheet here.

UK people don't have all eth advantages, though: the US has an interesting law allowing artists to reclaim copyright 35 years after granting an assignment or a licence to someone else. The UK doesn't have such a law: once you've signed away your rights, that's it (unless you had the forethought to include a reversion date etc in the contract).

Duran Duran (the pop group) got caught by this difference in laws - the BBC article is here, and the actual case report is here.

Moral of the story:
  1. Copyright laws vary from country to country - sometimes to your advantage, sometimes not.
  2. Get advice before you sign a contract, just in case you're about to sign away more rights than you need to - or sign away rights you didn't even know you had.
  3. Being a naive 18-year-old doesn't mean you're not bound by the contract you, as a businessperson, signed...
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#51
Closing thoughts: when it comes to details about copy righting- if it's even something I should worry about at all- I am entirely a novice, so I appreciate pointers like the novice screen writer's tell.
This is in response to this and I believe a beta reading question that you raised that I now can't find. I think I was too glib before, so I'm going into more depth here.

As @Theophania so wonderfully pointed out, copyright is incredibly murky and dependent upon where you live (glad to see Lyric Blade and I are both representing the west coast of America). It's useful for litigation, but I like to think of it like the painted lines of a crosswalk: Yes they give you the right of way, but they don't actually protect you from a car if it runs through them and hits you. Same with the copyrights in that you can now sue whoever stole from you, but it won't actually stop them from stealing. There's this article here that I didn't go back and reread, but if memory serves was about how a lot of fly by night digital "authors" are just stealing out of print book and then just switch up the characters' names (or reverse a gender or two) before publishing online for a quick profit. Amazon will shut them down when the plagiarism is discovered, but, like the cross walks, it doesn't stop the actual act of breaking the law.

That said, being stolen from is not exactly something a new writer really has to worry about. Mainly because, why would anyone want to steal an unproven product?

But back to alpha/ beta readers and reviewers: If you've found someone to give you notes on your manuscript, chances are they're doing it as a favor to you and that there's little motivation for them to steal something and rework it or put it out on the internet. The product of your book is unfinished, and unless you already have a rabid following there's no real market for it. Examples of the exception to this include: There was an issue a few weeks back when Rothfuss had a page of his upcoming book up on this computer in the background of his live-stream and was furious when his fans read it. I think Stephenie Meyer threatened not to release a book when one of her rough drafts showed up online; same with Tarantino when an early draft to Hateful Eight appeared.

But unless you have an audience equaling the above writers, I think you'll be fine work shopping your manuscript with fellow aspiring writers. Without outside opinions, one's writing becomes myopic, and so I strongly suggest finding others to get early opinions of.

However, once you have a finished product, I firmly believe you hold onto that and try and make sure it can't be easily copied. It's one thing for someone to take your idea and try to rewrite it and make it their own; that's a lot of effort on their part. It's entirely another (easier) thing to hit "copy" and then "paste" somewhere on the internet so others can download it for free. But again, this is something to worry about AFTER the product/ book/ movie is finished.
 
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Lyric Blade

Philosophizes with Kellhus
#52
Therefore, a fast paced novel, with fantastic characterisation, beautiful language, very reflective and introspective dialogs, which caricature and analyse deeply the social structure, would be a what?? I wouldn’t know now where to place my copy of Don Quixote…
I think you hit the nail on the head here Elvira as to why I too regard the literary vs genre distinction as being mostly arbitrary. There are a great deal of classics in the Western canon of literature that seems more similar to what is considered genre fiction in the Anglo-sphere today. Not only that, many works of 'genre' fiction old and new frequently blur the lines. And I say that as a native English speaker!

My point with Aristotle was partly to illustrate that as well: what was defined as great literature in ancient Greece is not how it is defined today. For Aristotle, it was all about plot, and second most important was character. However, Aristotle emphasized plot so strongly that he claimed one could have a perfectly good story with no characters at all, just a really good plot! (Hmm... so, would that make Brandon Sanderson a literary Aristotelian?)

Now days, as has been said, what is considered literary fiction is concerned with characterization and artful use of language. This is a modern development; that is not how 'literature' was always defined. This of course raises the question, is it really necessary to elevate some works as 'literature' when really the only difference is a matter of focus?

It amuses me that this clearly doesn't seem to be a problem or a debate in continental Europe. As a part-time linguist and English teacher, the all too frequent ironic ambiguities within my own language and linguistic culture are not lost on me, but rather they amuse me endlessly. :p

Still, the objective difference between literary and genre still exists- in the sense of where the monies come from, and some good has come of that in some places. The Irish literary scene has produced some real gems, and by the looks of it, Jo Zebedee shall soon be contributing on of her own. :)

One major (though possibly tangential) lesson here: I really want to read my fellow forumites' writing, because there are clearly some brilliant people on these forums who are writing what appears to be some really good stuff. Oh wait yeah- we have a thread for that! :shy:

Alright, as always, this only covers part of what I want to say, what there is to discuss. However, it's morning over here in the Pacific Northwest, and it's time for coffee and then shoveling some snow!

I'll be checking in later, and in the meantime may all have a lovely morning, night or eve according to your relative time zones. Be well!
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#53
As to this fascinating discussion of Literary/ Commercial Fiction: I want to invoke the "rose by any other name" defense (something I'm inventing on the spot).

I think genres are like personality tests in that they're assigned after the fact so we can easily identify something because of its arbitrary classification. It's basically shorthand of shared expectations. If I say someone is an Introvert, you know what that means right off the bat, just as if I say a book is Epic Fantasy. Also similar if we discover a new animal and I say it's a mammal.

That said, these classifications are painting with broad strokes and therefore can't catch everything. Just because I'm an Introvert doesn't mean I don't have friends or fear public gatherings. GoT is pretty epic, but also misses some of the hallmarks of the genre including high magic presence. And don't get me started on the platypus or spiny anteater; both mammals that lay eggs.

So yeah, all genres are simply names we apply to things so we can communicate with others about them and don't actually affect the object we're speaking about. Kind of if you called a rose a blunderbuss, it wouldn't affect its smell one bit.

It would be more fun to say though.
 

Lyric Blade

Philosophizes with Kellhus
#54
glad to see Lyric Blade and I are both representing the west coast of America
Right on man!

That said, being stolen from is not exactly something a new writer really has to worry about. Mainly because, why would they want to steal an unproven product?
That is a very good point. I am not worried about fellow aspiring writers, as much as wider context of the internet as whole - obviously not these forums- where there are allegedly some circles of people who will steal just about anything. I suppose, using social media in a broader, more general context is where my concern rests, not so much with fellow writers who would be doing me a great favor by reading and doctoring my manuscript.

In the NaNoWriMo terms of use section for instance, they suggest that you scramble your text before you submit it for an official word count in order to fully protect yourself against text thievery, which may not be much of a concern, but they do suggest it for everyone. (I used on older draft, but I forgot to scramble, so that was perhaps an oversight on my part that is part of the source of my naive paranoia).

I did not mean to express any suspicion of fellow writers at all; it is in the broader context of social media where I have my concern, which may be entirely unjustified paranoia on my part. This merely proves how much of a novice I am, so I appreciate everyone's patience, kindness and willingness to answer my questions.

As for getting alpha and beta readers, avoiding text myopia, getting feedback, I am eager for all of that! If folks wouldn't mind, I may be pinging some of you to read excerpts of writing if you would be willing- and once I work up the self-confidence.


-Ok- so coffee- snow shovels- be back in a while. Be well all!
 

Diziet Sma

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#55
My previous posts might sound like I agree with this concept (because I think there's a big difference whether you write a book for art or for entertainment purpose),
I’m not sure about this. I don't think it is a question of choice but purely of ability. If I were a talented, gifted writer, I could write either a masterful, entertaining commercial story or a Literary one. They can be inclusive concepts. Why would I lower my ability when I'm writing commercial fiction?
I guess the opposite would be different: an average author managing to writing successfully commercial fiction, can’t become a virtuoso.
An author has to excel in both the content and the form. No good having ideas but being rubbish at conveying them on paper; or even worse, writing arty empty, boring stories.
It is like learning a foreign language, there are four skills involved, I can’t say to you: Tanniel, I “speak” Danish if I only manage the reading and the listening and I'm useless at the speaking and the writing...;)

(Hmm... so, would that make Brandon Sanderson a literary Aristotelian?)
Now I know why Aristotelian Brandon Sanderson and I never took off. :)


Now days, as has been said, what is considered literary fiction is concerned with characterization and artful use of language. This is a modern development; that is not how 'literature' was always defined. This of course raises the question, is it really necessary to elevate some works as 'literature' when really the only difference is a matter of focus?
So, would the term Literary Fiction apply retrospectively to, for example, Classics or just to current work?
Over here, different literary value is applied to each work within each Literary genre. At least, this is how it works in Switzerland, Germany and Spain.
 

Lyric Blade

Philosophizes with Kellhus
#56
So, would the term Literary Fiction apply retrospectively to, for example, Classics or just to current work?
I may have been conflating two terms: Literature and Literary Fiction; however, I believe the two of them are related.

Literature (with a capital L*) is everything in a cultural canon, from the earliest classics (in the case of Western Literature) like Homer and Hesiod to more recent modern works. Literary Fiction then, as I understand it, attempts to extend Literary canon by writing stories, books and poetry that is up to current (academically defined) canonical standard. The kind of stuff that, like the classics, is excellent fodder for academic analysis and interpretation. So... by writing Literary Fiction, one is attempting to write what will be considered Literature by academics.

To me, this way of looking at it makes the distinction between literary and genre fiction even more clearly arbitrary: is not genre fiction a significant part of our culture today? Does that not warrant some attention by academics? So how can we exclude them from a cultural canon; how is genre fiction not extending our cultural canon as well? I suppose part of it is the distinction between pop culture and high culture, which of course raises a great many more questions and points of discussion.

This is all how I understand things; however, the English language is often a deceptive and confusing beast. So, I would welcome and appreciate anyone else's interpretation and elaboration on this topic. (Let the conversation continue, yey!)

*: This contrasts with the lower case L, literature, which refers to any body of professional academic writing. Eg. engineering literature, psychological literature, etc.
 

Lyric Blade

Philosophizes with Kellhus
#57
Now I know why Aristotelian Brandon Sanderson and I never took off.
Well said, right on. :hilarious: I do like Sanderson's works, but they are very plot-focused, almost to the exclusion of character at times. I generally most prefer stories that are more focused on character. How about you?

Generally speaking, I tend to see fantasy as a whole going more in the direction of largely character driven stories, and Sanderson may be one of the exceptions, especially considering many of the highest ranked books on this very site.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#58
This was me a about 10 years ago. I have changed completely my approach about price/quality in literature. There are around (in BFBF) some wonderful literary gifts freely (or almost) available.
There is definitely some great stuff out there for free and I'd never deny that. I'm reading a free online piece of serial fiction at the moment and will get around to Tanniel's book at some point.

I will retain my suspicions about what proportion of the freebie pile is actually quality until proven otherwise though. Which I suspect will never happen, as permanently free books rarely turn up as recommended in the places where I look for new ideas, and therefore I'll never read enough to know.

Which in turn points to the idea that society in general has its doubts about the quality of such work. And while my individual biases affect how I approach a book, society's biases affect my reading list a lot more heavily and in a way that's a lot harder to remedy.
 

Diziet Sma

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#59
Thank you for the clarification. I find this Literary Fiction term rather muddy.

The kind of stuff that, like the classics, is excellent fodder for academic analysis and interpretation. So... by writing Literary Fiction, one is attempting to write what will be considered Literature by academics.
But then, what is a classic but a great book plus time? At least, this is how I understanding it . They don’t remain in print because they should, but because they tick most of the boxes: a great plot, an authentic and clear setting that brings to the reader the feel for a place, for a period. Also, great characterisation with appropriate dialog and development tied to the convention of its time. A great, round story that bears the pass of time.
Weren’t many classics originally released as commercial fiction?


I do like Sanderson's works, but they are very plot-focused, almost to the exclusion of character at times.
I have only read Mistborn: The Final Empire. I kind of liked it but it didn't grab me. I have Elantris in my Kindle. Probably I'm being unfair on Sanderson, and should try one more time before dismissing him completely. Everyone seems to love his books.


I generally most prefer stories that are more focused on character. How about you?
Tricky question. I enjoy a well balance story. However, I can overlook a weak plot to an extent, but a bad, poor characterisation is a real turn off for me.
For example, I love Crime and Noir novels but given the choice, I would almost always pick a Noir over a Crime one, because of the focus on the characters and their social and personal circumstances.
7/10 books I’m reading at the moment are SF, and when I wrote my year Highlights/Lowlights post, I realised how little I have changed over the years, regardless of tapping into different genres: O Butler, C H Cherryh, F Herbert, A A Attanasio, J J Tiptree all are great at characterisation, and at plot too…:)
 

Diziet Sma

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#60
There is definitely some great stuff out there for free and I'd never deny that. I'm reading a free online piece of serial fiction at the moment and will get around to Tanniel's book at some point.

I will retain my suspicions about what proportion of the freebie pile is actually quality until proven otherwise though. Which I suspect will never happen, as permanently free books rarely turn up as recommended in the places where I look for new ideas, and therefore I'll never read enough to know.

Which in turn points to the idea that society in general has its doubts about the quality of such work. And while my individual biases affect how I approach a book, society's biases affect my reading list a lot more heavily and in a way that's a lot harder to remedy.
I agree. I don’t think anyone is saved from social biases. For me it is a question of recognising which bias I’m more prone to follow and try to compensate it somehow. What works best for me is to follow other readers reviews, who I know I share the same literary taste with. I tend (or try) to ignore the rest

The concept of quality is extremely malleable in my opinion, and it can take any shape and form. Just looking at the list of Highlights/Lowlights in this forum shows the diversity in taste and therefore where we place value.

It is like when I asked one of my group of 3.5 year old students to draw their respective heroes and then explain why. Most of them drew their dads (so sweet!) Their explanations were, above all utterly hilarious close to hysterical, but the most surprising thing for me was how diverse they were. So, who am I to tell them what makes the best quality hero…?