Seriously serious


[When I published The Beardmore Relics on Smashwords as an e-book, I had to choose a category.  I was torn between “literary novel” and “mystery novel”.  Why?  Because it is both.

I chose the mystery genre to write a work of serious fiction.  Serious fiction: that’s what a literary novel is.  Mostly.  Even if it has funny parts.

Here is one writer’s attempt to define the literary novel.  After you read it, return to this post and check out why I think my mystery novel is also a work of serious fiction.]

[Okay.  Why do I think The Beardmore Relics is a literary novel?

Seriously funny

1. I do write some seriously long sentences.  Not a helluva lot because long sentences can very quickly become tedious and turgid.  I am reading a novel now by an internationally-acclaimed author and she writes in long sentences most of time.  I am often exhausted before I reach the end of some of them, and that’s the time I set the book aside for a breather.  I don’t want you to breathe when you read my novel.

2. I do write a lot of short sentences.  I love short sentences.  Perhaps too much. 

3. I am occasionally lyrical.  Deliberately so.  I love language and I love the sound of magically-composed sentences.

4. I do make allusions to the classics.  Not often and not heavy-handedly.  I know, I know.  “Heavy-handedly” is a lousy construction, and I would never use it in a work of serious fiction.  And I also make a point of dropping topical allusions, not so classic, but definitely classy in my type of novel.

5. I don’t think I use eponyms, but I choose the names of characters to resonate in some way, usually in ways that only I can appreciate.

6. I am specific.  Especially about geography, about place.  My story in set in a specific place in a specific time.  Everything and everybody is real – REAL – for the duration of the story, and if you don’t sense that, I have failed.

7. I will never, I hope, never, never write a story within a story as described by this author.  It is such a cliché.  However . . . I did write, and intend to continue writing in this series, a story around the main story, a story which connects organically with the main story.  I can’t explain why I did that in The Beardmore Relics except that I sensed it was right.  And necessary.

8. Yes, my novel has reference to the wider world and to enduring, contemporary issues.   However, it is not a novel about issues, but a story about people who have issues which we can all relate to.

So there.  I have written a work of literary fiction in the mystery genre.]


About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website
This entry was posted in KENNET FORBES MYSTERIES, WHAT WRITERS ARE SAYING, WRITING and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Joe Bunting says:

    Nice. Thanks for interacting with the post, EJ. I loved what you said about the story-within-a-story. I guess the fact that half of the classics in literature are stories-witing-stories could, indeed, make it a cliche. Not many mysteries are, though. At least I can’t think of any (although I don’t read many mysteries).

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