The other day on my favorite site another member said something that made them seem a bit like a, for complete lack of better phrasing and no desire to censor myself, a pompous jackass. They made a comparison between more literary novels like Buddha’s Little Finger and more popular commercial novels like Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and said that anyone could’ve written the commercial novels had things been different. That would’ve been all well and good, not that I would agree with that sentiment. However, they then went on to say that only the actual writer of the literary novels could’ve written those novels.
Had I been in the same room as this guy, well, I don’t think it would’ve been pretty. I’m not much for this type of pure foolishness.
I love literary stories, wrote a Literary SF short myself and have plans for a Literary novel with a contemporary setting, one that is Lit Paranormal, and one that is Literary SF. I read both straight Lit and Lit-Genre crosses whenever I can get my hands on them, not caring whether the story is short or novel, adult or Young Adult/ Middle Grade.
But there’s simply nothing to what this guy was saying. There’s nothing special, better about Literary fiction in any objective sense. Maybe I don’t like Twilight or another popular novel for my own reasons entirely, but that doesn’t make the novels I do like, commercial and literary alike, more unique and what I don’t like less so. Because each came from the mind of a unique person, and what we write is often tied to who we are as people. We have themes, genres, styles, and ideas that call to us when we write; I tend to love vampires and other supernatural creatures, write characters that are POC ( People of Color. i.e. people who aren’t White.), and characters that are in some way LGBT+. Sure, lesbian characters are my normal choice, but that’s not the extent of my ideas. Nor are the supernatural elements of a lot of my Speculative Fiction that isn’t Science Fiction/Scifi.
Yes. Maybe there are people with similar ideas to mine. But, you know what? An idea isn’t what makes something unique, though it sometimes does when the idea is rare, that’s the execution of the story. A story is as unique as the person who wrote it regardless of genre and with proper effort by the writer, because characters are people no matter how alien they may be. My fan-fiction background has taught me that someone not the creator can’t predict fully how another person’s characters would react to something. They can certainly make educated guesses that make sense to even the creator, but they can’t say for sure how someone else’s characters would act.
So at the end of the day my opinion is this: anyone telling you that only literary works require a specific author is talking out of their ass.