March 3, 2021  Carol Brennan King

 Literary Fiction or Lit-fic is about people in situations and what will happen to them and how they’ll react…and over the course of the story, how they will change. 

  1. Aim for transcendency–make your story bigger than the plot. It’s about ideas, not action. If you see yourself as that writer hunched over his/her computer, thinking deep thoughts that explain why characters do this or that, you have a Literary Fiction mindset.
  • Develop characters well–Literary Fiction is more likely character-driven than other genres. Make your characters interesting, unusual, appealing, vulnerable, relatable. Spend time on them. Have them reflect on circumstances, share with readers what makes them do whatever they do. Internal monologues are common and critical.
  • Theme is as important as plot. What is your theme? Good vs. evil? Politics corrupts good people?  Inner city dwellers cannot overcome their environment?  Or the Reverse. Human forgiveness? Whatever it is, develop it well with setting, dialogue, characters, and all other story pieces. Make it central to your novel.
  • Share opinions, but don’t get preachy. Literary Fiction is more likely to have complicated ideas that are thoroughly discussed throughout the plot. Don’t be afraid to state your thoughts, but do give all sides to the idea. Otherwise, you’ll appeal only to the choir, not the Renaissance readers who favor Literary Fiction novels.
  • Understand that Literary Fiction is as much about producing a work that is cerebrally beautiful as popular. Embrace that. Don’t worry if it takes you a while to get that concept down on paper. Expect it to. You’ll know when you’ve finished.
  • Expect your writing to be described as ‘elegant’, ‘lyrical’, ‘thought-provoking’, or ‘high-brow’. If it is, and you like that, you are probably a literary fiction writer.
  • Take time in the plot to thoroughly explore characters, ideas, motivation, feelings. That means, your plot will be slower than other genres. Accept that. It’s a good thing if this is your genre.


Literary Nonfiction: Traditionally, nonfiction is used to inform, educate or transmit knowledge to the reader, but literary nonfiction borrows storytelling elements of fiction to tell a true story in an engaging way. The author of literary nonfiction commonly uses creative writing and story-telling techniques.

Literary Nonfiction is a type of descriptive writing in which imagery and other storytelling elements are employed to transform true events into an engaging novel. Its intention is to entertain or tell a story as opposed to inform the reader as we see in traditional nonfiction.

Literary nonfiction is more often home to similes and metaphors, and other literary or poetic devices. Readers of literary nonfiction must also recognize that there may be some author bias and poetic license that might be misleading to the reader.

Diaries and journals are often pointed to as examples of literary nonfiction. Memoirs, biographies and autobiographies are also examples of personal narratives that fall into the category of literary nonfiction.

Again, the emphasis in on the character, his or her feelings, motivations, and interior life. A clear plot may exist but the interior life of the character is of as much importance as is the plot in importance.

Creative Writing Prompts and Memoir Prompts are the same this week. Choose one or two to explore. Then bring your favorite to class to share.

1. Write a scene where the why is the important thing

2.What was the single biggest turning point of your life? Set up the context for this event and write it so the reader senses why this happened and what you thought about it.

3.What’s the most unusual situation you ever found

Chad political map

yourself in? How did you adjust or cope with it? Again, set up the context for this event and write it so the reader senses why this happened and what you thought about it.

4.Write a diary entry about when you felt most alone? Set up the reading of the diary entry.

Map note – we lived in the southern part of Chad in a village (Balimba) too small to make the map but it was outside of the city of Sarh to the northwest about five miles.

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