Genre Fiction, AKA commercial fiction, is what most fiction-readers reach for in bookstores (real or virtual) and libraries. Spy thrillers, police procedural mysteries, cozy mysteries, romance, new adult erotic romance, young adult fantasy, science fiction, post-apoctolyptic dystopian stories, westerns, steampunk, paranormal romance, historical fiction, military fiction, horror…Your favorite type of story is up there somewhere on the fiction shelves.
Literary fiction is the other main type of fiction; in lit fic the focus is more on the beautiful writing and less on the plot. Some literary fiction stories read like extended poems, and they often have ambiguous endings. Of course, there’s cross-pollinations between literary and genre fiction.
What does this have to do with retirement, the supposed topic of this blog? Now that I’ve retired from teaching, I devote most of my time to writing genre fiction—specifically, cozy mysteries, horror stories, and women’s fiction. The latter is often referred to as “chick lit,” actually a sub-genre of women’s fiction. So is romance, though some would place that in a separate category.
My novel Lola Dares has a lot in common with chick lit: a feisty female protagonist, a plot that revolves around human relationships and personal growth, a bit of romance, a light, humorous tone. But my protagonist is in her fifties, so perhaps Lola Dares is “hen lit.” I’d certainly rather read about the adventures and struggles of a mature woman, now that I am one, and I hope other readers will enjoy her stories as well.
A member of my wonderful critique group called my current work-in-progress “niche fiction,” because it would appeal mainly to female readers. Huh. 51% of the population is a niche? (Which I pronounce “nitch,” even though I speak French quite well, because “neesh” sounds so pretentious when speaking English.) In any case, I love genre fiction because there I can find what I’m looking for: adventure, fun, entertainment, thrills, vengeance, justice, romance, fascinating people, beautiful settings, and delightfully despicable villains–always vanquished in the end, of course. I prefer genre fiction to literary fiction most of the time because, by the end of the book, the puzzle is solved, the relationship forged, or perhaps dissolved, the heroine triumphant, and order restored. Alas, life seldom works out so neatly.
What’s your favorite genre of fiction?