Sunday, February 03, 2013

Have petard, will hoist

Earlier today I went on a rampage about "realistic fiction."

I thought it was not a good phrase; I'd never seen it in a bookstore; good fiction isn't realistic but believable...rant rant rant.

One of my blog readers sent me this soon after:


Riley Redgate said...

Hmm ... but when querying any of those books, they'd definitely be called contemporary YA, not "YA realistic fiction". Odd.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

I also saw "Dark Romance" as a YA category in B&N this week. That was a new one for me.

NotaWarriorPrincess said...

Isn't that right next to Fictional Realism? Actually, if you notice, it is in ya; tons of people assume from Harry Potter and Twilight that all ya fiction has supernatural elements. It is all, however, storytelling. (Even history!)

Jessica Schley said...

I recall "realistic fiction" being a term used by my librarian back when I actually was a middle grade reader, which was *ahem* a while ago. "Realism" is also a category in the MG and YA reading lists given to students who come to reading classes offered by the company I teach for.

But while it's true that it's used, it's also true that the term widely used in the publishing industry for these books is "contemporary," and I don't think it's unfair to expect a querying author to have done enough research to figure that out.

Lisa Shafer said...

I've used the term "realistic fiction" for 25 years for my students to name the genre that the internet has now dubbed "contemporary fiction."
It always seemed like a pretty decent category name to me.

Anonymous said...

As someone who worked in a library for many years (NOT as a librarian, full disclosure); "Realistic Fiction" was/is often used by children's and YA librarians to distinguish stories that actually COULD happen in real life from ones that couldn't, i.e., Judy Blume books vs. A Wrinkle in Time, or A Series of Unfortunate Events.

It isn't a phrase I heard used much by the librarians who dealt only with books for adults.

Jane | @janelebak said...

My first thought was the same as NotAWarriorPrincess's, that this is the response to the "Vampire Romance Section, Formerly Known As YA" phenomenon.

"So this doesn't have a vampire?"
"Nor a werewolf?"
"A fallen angel posing as a unicorn because he fell in love with a pixie who tames dolphins?"
"A high school junior who has repeating dreams telling her she's the promised one?"
"But it's still YA?"
"Yes, it's about a fifteen year old boy who wants to win a thousand dollars in a school-wide competition because he needs the money to treat his mother's alcoholism."
"Oh. And that's YA?"
"Even without a werewolf?"
"Sir, there's another section I think you should visit. It's called the 'parking lot' and it's right this way."

Christine Monson said...

As someone who worked at and managed the Children's/ Teen section of the bookstore of which the sign is from, we have been using the term "Realistic Fiction" forever (or at least it seems), same with "Dark Romance" when it started to become popular after Twilight. The term was used to coincide with school lists making it easier for customers to shop. I see nothing wrong with it for readers; however, it does confuse writers when they are working on query letters.

Elissa M said...

My sister is a Middle School Librarian and teacher. She has a terrible time trying to get her students to understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction. It doesn't help that things like fairy tales (Bros. Grimm et al.) are shelved in a library under nonfiction.

Booksellers want readers to easily find (and buy) books in which the readers are interested. Obviously they'll use whatever labels work. At least "Realistic Fiction" is not the same as "Real Fiction".

Angie Brooksby said...

Realism is a term that has defined painting for since the 19th century. Currently in the US there is a movement called contemporary realism, urban works: city dirt, run down, industrial, the celebration of mankind's imprint on nature. All which will change in a generation or sooner is part of that.

Social Realism was a big international movement in the 20th century, film was a big part of that. Someone must have been writing it.

I like the term Realism.