Fiction is the umbrella term used to describe the various creative works talented authors conjure up from their imagination—may it be a novel, comics, short story, or novella. Since the term is broad, categories were established to put the different genres, themes, and subject matters imaginative stories tackle to places they belong to. The massive world of fiction was then divided into two: commercial fiction and literary fiction.
Commercial fiction, as the name suggests, is a type of fiction produced for mass audiences. The general aim of works made within the bounds of commercial fiction is to provide entertainment, so characterization is not the central point of the story. Here, the writer lets the actual plot drives the story.
People from all walks of life can read commercial fiction. In view of their different perspectives, a set of subgenres was established to target a specific group. The most popular ones in the market are mystery, romance, fantasy, and science-fiction. Because of the different categories dividing commercial fiction, creative writers who focus on this particular genre must meet the expectations of a specific target audience.
Some of the most notable best-selling authors who drive the commercial publishing industry today include Stephen King (mystery and horror), J.K Rowling (fantasy and middle-grade), and Dan Brown (adventure and mystery).
Literary fiction, meanwhile, is a type of fiction that puts artistry above everything. Unlike commercial fiction, literary fiction focuses more on the style of writing and the characterization of people involved in the story. A character-driven narrative is the end goal or objective of the writer.
Stories categorized under literary fiction usually have underlying social and cultural issues. As a result, this genre tends to appeal to minority—a more intellectual audience. Each piece of writing by literary fiction authors is always expected to have impeccable qualities such as original themes and unique writing style. With that, most creative writers who write literary fiction receive the most prestigious awards in the writing community.
Some of the critically-acclaimed literary fiction writers today include Haruki Murakami (science-fiction and magical realism), Harper Lee (classics andhistorical fiction), and Margaret Atwood (speculative fiction and dystopian).
Taking the characteristics of literary fiction and commercial fiction into account, it’s safe to say that the differences between these two genres mostly focus on how they are read, produced, and marketed. But regardless of the aforementioned differences, there will inevitably be room for multiple interpretations in the future as writing is an ever-evolving process.
If you’re getting started as a creative writer, it’s best to fully understand the differences between commercial and literary fiction. Writing any type of fiction is challenging, especially now that the publishing industry is getting more competitive, and readers are being more critical.
Clients here at Rakuboss.ph are looking for versatile creative writers that can bring wonderful stories to life. If you’re knowledgeable about the different types of fiction, get on board. Let your target audience know your genre based on how you present your stories and characters. Influence them the way you want to.