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  • Writer's pictureDale Thele

Why I Write Southern Literature

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Southern Literature is oftentimes considered one of the most challenging genres to write. To be a true southern author, one must be born and raised in the South. There's no way to get around this requirement. You are either born a Southerner or you're not. Packing up your s**t and moving to the south does not make one an honest-to-goodness Southern Author.

Myself, I was born and raised in the South and I've lived all but one year of my life in the South. That one exceptional year was spent in Southern California. The rest of my life has been lived in Oklahoma and Texas. (Yes, Oklahoma is considered the South by the US Census Bureau.) Wikipedia states:

Southern literature consists of writing about the American South. Often, "the South" is defined, for historical as well as geographical reasons, as the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arkansas.*

Writing southern literature doesn't only come easy for me, but I’m also claiming my heritage by writing in a genre that I’m uniquely qualified for. Instead of running away from my heritage, I’m embracing my authentic self and celebrating who I am and where I’ve come from. In doing so, I write authentically without pretense.

Below are nine characteristics that must be present to be authentic Southern Literature.

13 Characteristics of Southern Literature

  1. The author must be born and raised in the South. The South is a way of thinking and being, a characteristic that only a native Southerner experiences. It's a characteristic that can't be imitated or copied.

  2. Strong sense of tradition.

  3. Strong sense of the past.

  4. Importance of family and community. The family is a huge presence in Southern literature. Often the family members have to come to terms with each other as part of the plot; sometimes these connections are important way after the siblings grow up and go their separate ways. It is hard for most Southerners, even now, to understand how a brother could move away and never be heard of again.

  5. Importance of place (setting) in a physical sense.

  6. Emphasis on concrete imagery. Southern literature is usually quite descriptive, and the best writers use very strong imagery as one of the important tools for creating the story in all its power.

  7. Importance of ownership, of things and/or land.

  8. The revelation of unique or unstable relatives.

  9. Self-importance.

  10. Language of the South. The distinctive dialect, phrases, and delivery of those phrases are unique to the South.

  11. Politics and/or political views.

  12. Importance of a parental figure. A mother or grandmother is oftentimes prevalent as the patriarch of the Southern family.

  13. Use of religious imagery and backdrop of the Christian church in the setting of many of the stories. Religion and Christian beliefs are strong themes in Southern literature.

In my most recent Southern Novel entitled CLIPPED WINGS, Shane reveals a poignant coming-of-age narrative of growing up in ultra-conservative, north-central Oklahoma in the early 1970s, told entirely from Shane’s teenage perspective. From triumphs to disappointments, his story unravels a tapestry of secrets and lies, exposing deeply hidden skeletons in closets that should never see the light of day. A fictional novel, inspired by actual events.

Clipped Wings is the first novel of the Shane Davison Chronicles series in which Shane shares his life experiences. From childhood through adulthood, he shows the similarities and challenges he faces as an out, gay man in a predominately straight world. No matter, if you are gay, bi, straight, or anything in between, you will certainly relate to his experiences. Maybe not identical experiences, but those that are similar. As Shane demonstrates, all of us live on the same earth and share many related challenges, triumphs, and obstacles as we forge through this journey we call life.

Paperback & Kindle available on Amazon:

Official Author website:

Note: This blog post was revised on September 18, 2021.

I would like to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment in the Comment Box at the bottom of the page.

Dale Thele, Bestselling Fiction Author

Bestselling Fiction Author

Stories with an LGBTQ+ Twist

corrupting readers since 2008

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