Is Literary Fiction "Fragile?"
I do think it's extremely dangerous to mess with a novel structurally, because it's close to poetry in that it's almost pure consciousness. The way it comes forth from the writer is the way it should probably be, even though maybe the beginning is unclear or not enough action happens in this part or whatever. With a literary book—I hate to say literary, but a piece of serious fiction that isn’t genre fiction—I try to stay away from structural suggestions because they can be very damaging. One big change can make the whole house of cards fall apart. So with literary fiction I really try to stick to line editing. I also think the less done the better, and I consider myself a fairly heavy editor. But I do as little as I can do, because a work of serious literature is a very fragile construction.
I've been writing fiction for 10+ years and still feel way too inexperienced to agree or disagree with this. My Kerouac-adoring, first-thought-best-thought-digging gut sees some big truth in it. My head is full of ringing bells. I've messed up a few stories along the way with various Frankenrevisions. But I'm also thinking hey, it's just story, it's malleable and rubbery, can it really be that delicate? Are we disrespecting story by calling it delicate? What do you think?
Labels: Writing Fiction