As a reader, I recognize two categories of fiction: good and, let’s say, disappointing. The good fiction has style that doesn’t make me wince, characters I can accept as potentially real, and plot that doesn’t prompt me to think, “I read two hundred pages to get here?” Disappointing fiction has, um, the opposite of those. Or has one or two of the above characteristics, but fails drastically on one or more of the others.
Regardless of the sticker on the spine or the sign over the shelf, those are my two reader-defined categories. They’re not intended for use by booksellers or publishers or scholars in the field. But they’re the categories relevant to me as a reader, and ultimately, as a writer.
Great fiction? That’s a sub-category of “good.”