Experimental Fiction

James Joyce (1882-1941)

Three Identifiers of Experimental Fiction

Experimental fiction breaks the rules of genre fiction. Often, it doesn’t have a beginning or an end, or it may go in circles and barely have a plot.  It can be long or it can be short. It goes however and wherever it wants to go, and ends wherever and whenever it wants to end.

Experimental fiction is hard to read. If you want a nice, quick read when you go to the park or the beach, I highly suggest you don’t take an experimental novel with you.

Experimental fiction experiments with language. Authors use various literary techniques, often in the same book. They may put a new definition on a word, make up a word and even use poetry.

Experimental Fiction Tips

  1. Know the rules of good writing: grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  2. Know the principles of good storytelling in the traditional sense, such as when to show and when to tell, dialogue and characterization, etc.
  3. Don’t break the rules just for the sake of breaking them. Be able to justify your decisions in experimenting.

A Few Famous Experimental Novels

James Joyce, Ulysses

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Henry James, The Other House

Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

George Orwell, Animal Farm and 1984

If you want to write experimental fiction, know the rules before you break them and be able to explain why. Also, don’t forget to revise and produce the best work you can. Who buys literary fiction these days? Submitting your work to literary magazines is the best way to begin.

5 thoughts on “Experimental Fiction

  1. This is so interesting Jack. I’ve never heard of experimental fiction. Don’t think I’ll be trying it any time soon, but you never know!


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