The Supernatural in Literary Fiction

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  • #1122 Reply
    Mike Henderson

    Thanks. The problem I anticipate is finding an agent. I try to be literary (I don’t mean flowery or touchy-feely, more along the lines of a cross between Cormac McCarthy and Nick Cave), but I wanted to write something dark and spooky. Not horror, per se. So, to help me, I hired a developmental editor. My writing is much better, no doubt, but she says the ghouls have to go. If there are ghouls, it’s horror. Since the horror comes late in the story, it doesn’t fit the “spec,” and therefore there is no place for it in traditional publishing . Things there genre-wise are very rigid.

    I’ve already self-published one book, but I’d love to have a real publisher. So I need an agent. When you query an agent you are supposed to be able to tell them the genre (although I read one article that says if you’re not sure, it’s okay to leave it out). I believe that if an agent likes the writing, but thinks that something should happen earlier in the book than it does, that that would not preclude representation. They will have you rewrite it. Do you have any experience with agents?

    I’ve been beating my head against the wall for too long trying to fit this thing into some genre. I’m ready to so “quod scripsi scripsi.”

    #1121 Reply

    Interesting. Two separate responses. First, don’t worry about writing to a category. Write well and tell a good story. Literary for me means character-based more than plot-based fiction, but it’s a fuzzy distinction, and I wouldn’t worry about it. Second, when you’re with an agent or a publisher, they are still wedded to slotting you into a category. At that time, I’d make a decision to do what’s best to reach your target audience, and they will give you experienced and valuable advice. But until then, write the best you can using your imagination as you feel comfortable. It will allow you to create your best, and that’s the goal, not to write to a specific genre (really good writing is loved no matter where it’s slotted). Best regards, WHC

    #1113 Reply
    Mike Henderson

    What do you think of having supernatural elements in literary fiction? I fancy myself to be a literary writer, but my novel has ghouls in it. Nothing graphic, really, although there is some mention of blood, and I allude to what is going on in a scene or two, but it is certainly no gore in it. It’s just that some of the characters are ghouls, and will live forever (or they would, but for the efforts of my protag). Does the mere presence of ghouls in the story make it horror?

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