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Difference Between Fiction and Literary Fiction

Fiction vs Literary Fiction

The difference between fiction and literary fiction is that literary fiction focuses upon style and depth, and is character driven, whereas genre fiction is plot driven, has a broader viewpoint, and focuses more upon imaginary details.

Literary fiction appeals to a smaller audience, compared to fiction which has a broader audience. Literary fiction attracts an audience that is more of an intellectual type compared to fiction. Those readers, who are more prone to the realities of life and want to have a deeper understanding of life, prefer literary fiction over popular fiction.

Fiction is also called commercial fiction and has many categories, such as humor, romance, science, mystery etc. Literary fiction may also fall into any category as genre fiction, but an excellent style of writing or originality of ideas and thoughts sets it apart from ordinary fiction writing.

Some of the popular fiction writers are Sidney Sheldon, Michael Connelly and Stephen King, whereas literary fiction writers are Barbara Kingsolver and Toni Morrison, among others.

Literary fiction is considered profound and thought of as provoking when compared to popular fiction. Literary fiction discusses and addresses more serious issues, which can provoke beliefs, and change the thinking patterns of the readers. The audience of literary fiction may find their outlook on life changing after reading novels. It is based upon stories with multiple layers and strong characters. Literary fiction, when compared to commercial fiction, has literary merits and wins awards. The media gives special place to literary fiction reviews when compared to popular fiction.

Fiction, which is not based upon characters, does not focus upon psychological depths, whereas literary fiction wrestles more with universal predicaments rather than a storyline. Fiction is more based upon imaginary people and events, compared to literary fiction. Literary fiction uncovers the truth and makes readers aware of a deeper understanding of life with the help of main characterization.

In literary fiction, everyday speech is expressed more formally compared to popular fiction. Classic or literary fiction novels written before the 1950’s are character-centered, whereas fiction became more popular in the 1960’s, and has remained mostly plot oriented.


1. Fiction is imaginary or creative writing; a short story or novel in narrative form.
2. Literary fiction is serious writing about serious issues, dilemmas etc., prevailing in society.
3. Literary fiction is character based; deep innovative thinking that provokes intellectual thoughts, and may alter beliefs.
4. Fiction or popular fiction is built around a climax of action, protagonist and based on a beginning, middle and end.
5. Popular fiction, compared to literary fiction, is plot oriented, and has a broader audience and viewpoint.

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