I’m at the Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio, as I always am the second week of July. So far the workshop’s fantastic, with “ah-ha!” moments scattered amidst the chuckles. And the hugs have been great!
Novelist Nancy Pickard, who was Saturday’s keynote speaker, is teaching the daily morning fiction session, which is open to all participants of the workshop. Today she talked about something that many writers of fiction forget.
“Readers have heard similarly structured stories all their lives,” she said, “so they have subconscious expectations: that your story will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. As writers, we can deliver on these expectations or not.”
However, she pointed out, if we fail to recognize that our readers have these subconscious expectations and do not deliver on them, then “it is like handing a hungry person a piece of wood to gnaw on.”
Hmmm. Now if I combine that with what novelist Tim Waggoner said in his Saturday morning keynote for the Saturday-only participants, it explains why I don’t enjoy many pieces of literary fiction.
Tim was asked to explain the difference between mainstream or genre fiction and literary fiction. He said if you take the former, then chop off the beginning and the end, then write it in present tense, you have literary fiction.
Yep, just like gnawing on a hunk of wood.
What do you all think? Do you read much literary fiction?