Lit Fic

Lit Fic - short for "Literary Fiction" - is a nebulous, broad term which emerged during the 1960s. Though it is usually contrasted with Genre Fiction ("Speculative Fiction", Mystery Fiction, Romance Novel, and so on), there's more to it than "any non-genre fiction"; in some respects, it is a genre unto itself, characterized by an aspiration to literary merit and a greater focus on style, theme and psychological depth - as opposed to the focus on plot and narrative typical of genre fiction.

From this you might infer that this is typically not the kind of work that provides one's daily fix of vampire-hunting, magically-transforming, banana-bending, mecha-piloting, super-powered, time-travelling teenagers beating the odds. A touch of Magical Realism might be allowed, but never to the point where it becomes the focus of the story. Rather, a piece of Lit Fic is much likelier to be about everyday people doing everyday things, dealing with everyday problems and eventually coming to realizations or personal transformations. A family struggles with cancer. A man struggles with death. A couple struggles with alcoholism. A child struggles to become an adult. Critics who dislike the genre may snark that it is the overapplication of the adage "Write what you know," resulting in too many books where "a middle-aged college professor contemplates adultery".

In some sense, this induces an instinctive aversion to this genre in some readers' eyes; there is very little escapism or Wish Fulfillment in Lit Fic. A great many people find Lit Fic to be boring or pretentious, while others find it to be very relatable. There is, of course, a flip side to the above: Lit Fic, more than any other genre, invests itself in real-life situations and real-life people. This is, generally, a good investment; in the end, even in the wackiest and most speculative adventures, the touch of real life - characters and their believable faults and struggles - is what ties everything together, carries the Willing Suspension of Disbelief and keeps the Eight Deadly Words at bay. One might say, at their very base level, genre and Lit Fic are Not So Different, they just emphasize different aspects of storytelling. Driving that point home, it's worth noting that there is plenty of Lit Fic dealing with less slice-of-life situations such as war and famine, and some even straddling the line between genre and literary, especially once you consider the ones that dabble with Metafiction; and even the more realistic works often have heavy touches of humor (usually satirical and dark), poetry and/or philosophy, beyond what is generally suggested by the "normal stories about normal people" description.

Ostensibly for this reason, lit fic defines itself as the mainstream of fiction, regardless of market share and despite the fact that genre fiction is more popular among the general public. The genre really only began to appear towards the end of the 19th century, when the corresponding genre fictions began to crystallize. One could argue that most works of fiction before the emergence of genre fic are essentially lit fic, but the term is generally used to refer to contemporary works.

Archetypal authors in English include (sorted alphabetically by last name):

Examples of Lit Fic with pages on this wiki include:

Alternative Title(s):

Literary Fiction