Category Archives: literary genres

Genres of Literature – Biography


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A biography, commonly known as a bio, is defined as a detailed description of a person’s life. Rather than dealing with the basic facts of the subject’s life like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person’s experience with life events, presenting a subject’s life story, with highlights of various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and may even include an analysis of the subject’s personality.

Biography’s are usually non-fiction in nature but fiction can sometimes be used to portray the subject’s life. One form of biographical coverage is called legacy writing that deals with in-depth research. 

At first, biographical writings were merely a subsection of history focusing on a particular individual of historical importance. The independent genre of biography began emerging in the 18th century reaching its contemporary form at the turn of the 20th century. Biographical research as defined by Miller is a research method of collecting and analyzing a person’s whole life, or on occasion a portion of their life. This is accomplished through the in-depth and unstructured interviews, or even by semi-structured interview or personal documents. In short the research can come from “oral history, personal narrative, biography and autobiography” or “diaries, letters, memoranda and other materials.

There are two types of biography:

  1. Authorized biography which is written with the permission, cooperation, and at times, participation of a subject or a subject’s heirs.
  2. An autobiography which is written by the person himself or herself, sometimes with the assistance of a collaborator or ghostwriter.

The idea of writing our own biography is a daunting one for most of us and knowing where and how to start can be the main stumbling block for many. What to put in and what to leave out!

With other members of my writing group, I helped produce a memoir writing guide, which gives pointers on how to collect and compile artifacts, photos, letters etc. into a themed collection enabling you to format and theme your memoir/biography.

YourLifetimeOfStories

http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/fp/your-lifetime-stories

The practical suggestions included in the pages of this book will suggest to you ways you can identify, record, and organize your collection of memories so you can begin to write your stories. It is not a how to write but a how to begin workbook. 

Have you thought of writing your biography?

What would the title be?

 

Genres of Literature – Meta-Fiction


metafiction

Metafiction is a form of literature  where the author deliberately emphasizes its  constructiveness that continually reminds the reader to be aware that he or she is reading or viewing a fictional work as the author self-consciously alludes to the artificiality or literariness of a work by parodying or departing from novelistic conventions and traditional narrative techniques.

Metafiction is  commonly associated with postmodern literature, however it can be traced back to much earlier works,  such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1387) Miguel de Cevantes’ Don Quixote (1605) and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. (1954-1955. It became prominent in the 1960’s with such tales as John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49.

There are four variations:

Explicit/Implicit metafiction is identified by its use of clear metaficiton elements within the text quoting its own artificiality. For example, the narrator explains the story they are telling.
With Implicit metafiction rather than commenting on the text, it foregrounds the medium or its status as an artifact through various, such as disruptive techniques like metalepsis. Relying on the reader’s ability to recognize these devices to evoke a metafictional reading. Implicit metafiction is described as a mode of showing.

Direct/Indirect metafiction in contrast consists of metareferences external to it’s text, such as reflections/parodies and general discussions of aesthetic issues on specific other literary works or genres. 

Critical/Non-critical metafiction is more frequently found in postmodernist fiction aiming to find the artificiality or fictionality of a text in some critical way. However, non-critical metafiction does not criticize or undermine the artificiality or fictionality of a text and can be used to “suggest that the story one is reading is authentic”.

Generally media-centered/truth- or fiction-centered metafiction deals with the medial quality of fiction or narrative but in some cases there is an additional focus on the truthfulness or inventiveness of a text, which merits mention as a specific form. The suggestion of a story being authentic would be an example of truth-centered metafiction.

Were you aware that the great tomes above were metafiction?

Have you written this genre? Care to share?  

 

Genres of Literature – Fan-fiction


 

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The definition of fan fiction or fanfiction is stories created by fans of original works of fiction rather than the original creator. Since the advent of the Internet it has become a popular form of fan labor. It is not commissioned or usually authorized by the original work’s creator or publisher, and is rarely professionally published but rather qualifies under ‘fair use’. Attitudes differ by the original authors and copyright owners of these original works to fan fiction ranging from indifference to encouragement to rejection. Copyright owners have occasionally responded with legal action.The term “fan fiction” came into use in the 20th century. 

Fan fiction is both related to its subject’s canonical fictional universe and simultaneously existing outside it. Most fan fiction writers work is  primarily read by other fans, such as Spockanalia (1967) based on Star Trek, which was mailed to other fans or sold at science fiction conventions. It is interesting to know that women dominated fan fiction initially in 1970 by 83% and increasing to 905 in 1973. Due to the accessibility of the Internet it is estimated fab fiction comprises one third of all content in regards to books. In 1998 the site Fanfiction.Net came online allowing anyone to upload any fandome content onto it’s not-for-profit platform. This practice came to be known as ‘pulling-to-publish’. In 2013 Amazon.com established Kindle Worlds enabling certain licensed media properties to be sold in their kindle store. The terms included 35% of net sales for 10,000 word plus or 20% for short fiction from 5,000 – 10,000 words but with restrictions on content, copyright and poor formatting.

 

Around 1960-1970 in Japan dōjinshi began appearing where independently published manga and novels, (known as dōjinshi), were frequently published by dōjin circles. Many were based on existing manga, anime, and video game franchises. 

Today there are a multitude of fan fiction internet sites for all sorts of genres from comic heroes to romantic couples to TV shows. It is a growing ‘genre’ and a vehicle for many authors to showcase their work.

Have you written fan fiction? 

What or who was your subject?

Why did you decide to write fan fiction?

Genres of Literature – A Tall Tale


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We all tell the occasional tall tale and know of the old fisherman stories of the ‘big one that got away’ these are mainly verbal tales or stories told around a campfire or to impress our friends and family.

The definition of a tall tale is a story containing unbelievable elements, related as though they are true and factual. These exaggerations of actual events, are mainly told ‘tongue in cheek’ and cause amusement for the listeners. Other tall tales are completely fictional tales set in a familiar setting, such as the European countryside, the American frontier, or the Canadian Northwest. The line between legends and tall tales is distinguished primarily by age; legends exaggerate the exploits of their heroes, but tall tales exaggerate an event to such an extent it becomes the focus of the story.

American tall tales

Tall tales are a fundamental element of American folk literature. The origins were seen in bragging contests by rough men of the frontier lands when they gathered together. Characters include, Davy Crockett, Pecos Bill, Casey Jones, Old Stormalong and Sally Ann Thunder – Ann Whirlwind.

 

Toastmasters International public speaking clubs do sometimes hold Tall Tales contests. Each speaker is given three to five minutes in which to tell a tall tale and is then judged according to several factors. The winner proceeds to the next level of competition.

Australian tall tales

The Australian frontier (known as the bush or the outback) has similar tales of the characters who lived mainly in isolation. The Australian versions concern a mythical station called  The Speewah and the characters who lived there, such as Big Bill, Crooked Mike and folklore hero, Charlie McKeahnie.

Canadian tall tales

The Canadian frontier has also inspired tall tales, such as Big Joe Mufferaw, Johnny Chinook and Sam McGee.

European tall tales

One enduring tall tale concerns the columnar basalt that makes up the Giant’s Causeway, which is said to have been made by Fionn mac Cumhaill. Other tales include Toell the Great, the Babin Republic, and Baron Munchausen.

 

Have you incorporated a tall tale into a story or novel?

Which tall tale is passed down through your family?

Genres of Literature – Superhero Fiction


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Superhero fiction originated in American comic books, although its popularity quickly expanded into other media through adaptations and original works.

It examines the adventures, personality and ethics of a costumed crime fighter, commonly known as a superhero, possessing superhuman powers, who has the desire or need to help the citizens of their chosen country or world by using their powers to defeat natural or super powered threats. They battle similarly powered criminals, referred to as super villains. The super heroes involve themselves (either intentionally or accidentally) with science fiction and fact, including advanced technologies, alien worlds, time travel, and inter-dimensional travel; but the standards of scientific plausibility are lower than with actual science fiction.

Superheroes sometimes combat other threats such as aliens, magical/fantasy entities, natural disasters, political ideologies such as Nazism or communism and godlike or demonic creatures. Super villains may not have actual physical, mystical, superhuman or super alien powers, but often possesses a genius intellect that allows them to draft complex schemes or create fantastic devices.

Both opposing characters have secret identities or alter egos, but for different reasons. The superhero hides their true identity from enemies and the public to protect those close to them from harm and to some extent problems that are not serious enough for them to become involved in. In contrast a super villain keeps their identity secret to conceal their crimes enabling them to act freely and illegally without risk of arrest.

Who is your favorite superhero?

Have you written a superhero story/novel? Care to share?

A good friend of mine wrote this superhero novel, which has a fantastic twist. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Powerless-J-McKnight/dp/1927510848

Powerless