What is the difference?

In some corners of the writing world, there is great fracas regarding what constitutes literary and what constitutes commercial writing; aka: genre. Generalities emerge to plague us:

  • literary writing is good; commercial writing makes money
  • literary writing is character-driven; commercial writing is plot-driven
  • literary writing uses long sentences and big words; commercial writing is for bird-brains who can’t grasp metaphor. They need similes.
  • literary writing is boring; commercial writing is entertaining
  • literary writing ends with all characters miserable and the reader feeling like committing suicide; commercial writing is fluff

Balderdash. The first thing to know about the alleged division is: what matters to a reader is that the writing is good. Readers define for themwelves what constitutes “good.”

Literary and commercial writing do vary in their use of language, such in the way that Beethoven sounds like Beethoven and Patsy Cline sounds like Patsy Cline. Music has a sound. Writing has a voice. Literary writing sounds literary, and commercial writing sounds commercial.

Important Thing To Know, The Second: the genres literary and commercial are a necessary divisions only when it comes to getting your writing to a reader. In other words: selling.

Allow me some moments to compose my thoughts. I shall return.

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