Popular fiction is what’s otherwise known as genre fiction. Most of what people write in the modern day would fall into the category of ‘popular fiction’. It’s the exact opposite of literary fiction due to its perceived lack of seriousness. For something to become literary fiction, it must gain critical acclaim amongst industry peers or be considered as ‘serious’. This makes it quite difficult to categorise certain books.
The writers you see on television accepting awards and having their books made into films write literary fiction. Popular fiction is just as well-written (and often better written), it just doesn’t have the same acclaim. In general, fewer readers gain exposure to a popular fiction writer’s work, but there has been some notable exceptions.
Another aspect is the concept of vulgarity. Writers in the genre fiction category will happily create what some people would call vulgar. The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is an example of this. Many more conservative readers consider these popular fiction books on the same level as a pornographic magazine, due to their graphic sex scenes.
Popular fiction fits into the same genres as literary fiction. Here are just some of the genres you can find in this section of the literature world:
The unique stamp of popular fiction is it doesn’t actually have an agreed genre. Readers and publishers can view books in an entirely different light. It’s not uncommon to find multiple genres in a book. For example, How the West Was Weird by Russ Anderson and a number of other collaborating authors combined the Western and the Fantasy genres.
Influence of Popular Culture
Popular culture plays a big part in popular fiction. Writers tend to sway towards certain genres, whilst their readers believe they’re swaying in an entirely different direction. What popular culture has done is muddy the waters between one genre and another. This is why the fiction genre is such a diverse field as it breaks many of the conventions of traditional writing.
A major example of popular culture defining popular fiction is in novel length. Literary fiction tends to set the boundary between novella and novel at 65,000 words. In genre fiction this changes depending on the writer, publisher, or just which part of the world you talk about.