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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Thirty-Seven

Understanding the Elements of Literary Fiction

How to Incorporate Style, Symbolism, and Characterization

Jack Smith

For a fictional work to be classified as “literary,” it must have the capacity to resonate with readers on several different levels. To put it another way, it must be layered and multifaceted in meaning: There is much more at hand than the story you’re “seeing” and following on the page—it contains levels that go fathoms beyond plot and characterization.

So, how do you pull that off? Well, it’s not just about artful language, as many think—but that’s a great place to start.

STYLE AND RESTRAINT

While prose style alone doesn’t definitively separate literary fiction from other forms of writing, it is true that ...

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