Genre tips

Today’s #AtoZChallenge Topic: Commercial Fiction Genre

A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post every day except Sundays during the month of April on a thematic topic. This year, I’ll be covering writing genres.

Today’s genre:

atoz-cCommercial Fiction


Commercial fiction is also called genre fiction because books of this type fall into categories such as western, gothic, romance, historical, mystery and horror.

Tipsa to z

  1. Sentence structure, vocabulary, and pacing are less complicated than literary fiction. Avoid the philosophic questions that readers ponder over and make your writing generally easier to read. Here’s an article on how to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Do the opposite.
  2. In literary fiction, readers work hard to garner the moral of the story. In commercial fiction, the character, story, plotting does that work.
  3. You are writing a story that will sell. It’s not for family and friends and to unburden your soul.
  4. The main character is someone you could have a cuppa with. S/he’s likable and flawed. In literary fiction, s/he will challenge your understanding of the human condition before you even get the coffee delivered to you.
  5. Commercial fiction can answer the same deep-dive questions asked in literary fiction, but the answer comes not through narrative but through characters and plot.
  6. Know the guidelines for your particular genre and follow them in your story. That’s the most predictable way to write a ‘commercially successful’ story.
  7. The less “special” your story is, the more commercially viable. Why? Because more people will relate to it.
  8. Be a storyteller, not an artist.
  9. Show don’t tell.
  10. Be yourself.

Popular Books

  1. Girl on the Train
  2. Gone Girl
  3. The Help
  4. Life of Pi
  5. Memoirs of a Geisha
  6. The Shining

More C Genres:

Click for complete list of genres

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for May 2017. Click to follow its progress.

60 thoughts on “Today’s #AtoZChallenge Topic: Commercial Fiction Genre

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  4. First of all, I’d love to know where you get the energy to write all these posts. If it’s out of a bottle I could buy some. In this post I particularly liked the contrasts you make between commercial and literary fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I confess: I wrote all of them ahead of time, starting May of last year. 26 posts over 12 months is much less daunting.

      I too liked differentiating between commercial fiction and the ‘important’ literary fiction. It’s why I binge on the former and put up with the latter.


  5. Jacqui, this is an outstanding comparison of literary and commercial fiction and extremely helpful to anyone trying to determine the difference. I’ve read every book on your list (and enjoyed them) except The Shining – I don’t read horror unless Shakespeare writes it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jacqui – interesting … I don’t read a lot of these – sometimes I get to see the film, but not always. I missed The Hidden Figures film … but bought the book – it sits with many others awaiting my eyeballs! I hope that fits the category … Sometime … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

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