What the Market Will Bear
"Mistress, surely," her waiting maid's voice chided from behind her. "You must pry yourself from that window for a morsel. I worry over your insistent return to that spot, day after day."
Delquessa's gaze lingered upon the horizon. "Why sends he no word? Could the campaign stretch this overlong?"
"I assure you, I know not, mistress." The maid's footfalls neared. "Who among elves can fathom the minds of men?"
Not I, Elyrin, not I."
Welcome to a quick excerpt from one of my current projects--a 10,000 word short story I hope to submit for a short story anthology to be produced by Port Yonder Press this fall. As my new critique group looked over this particular story, a bit of a discussion came up about "reading level" and what today's fiction market will bear.
Now, let me start off by saying that I don't consider myself anywhere near intelligent enough to truly pull off "literary" as a genre. I won't go into the full definition of literary here, but lets just say it includes work that is written in an elevated style that uses words like the components of a complex mosaic...much different than we tend to think or speak in this day and age. But as much as I peg myself as a fairly average jane when it comes to complexity in my writing, the critique group had a slightly different opinion.
Anyway, the style in which I wrote the story began the discourse on whether today's fiction market can bear something written on a late high school to college level when it comes to vocabulary and pace. To write with words that aren't in the working lexicon of the average American narrows your audience, I'll admit. Fantasy already has a limited reach in the arena of readers. Christian fantasy...well, now we're really finding a tight niche, aren't we? At least I've had the common decency to write in this style only for about 25 pages. I wouldn't dare ask anybody to digest a whole novel of the stuff.
It all brings me to the point of a deep lament...if readers don't read to expand, sharpen, and stretch their minds, where will this happen? Does making reading easy actually expand the number of people who decide they love to read? Just by glancing around society (and admittedly, I have no scientific numbers to back this up) I would have to guess the answer is no. It's a cycle and a downward spiral. We make books easier so that people who don't read might feel less intimidated. People might read them, but because the reading material fails to expand their vocabulary and complexity of thought, an author dare not write above am 8th grade reading level as he continues to produce work, lest he lose his readers.
And yet, despite all this, apparently I've written a short story that disregards the market on all fronts. I've written it for Christian fantasy readers who love detailed word pictures. I cannot fathom telling this particular story in any other way. Will this all turn out to have been an interesting, while slightly fruitless, endeavor? Only time will tell. But I open the discussion to you, followers, visitors and friends...is there a place for literary style fiction in the Christian fantasy market?
Thanks for reading. Keep an eye trained on this spot come early September for the season two premier episode of The Windrider.