In short, Flash Fiction is a fictional piece of prose in extreme brevity but still offering character and plot development. They can be defined by word count, which includes the six-word story, the 280-character story; commonly known as twitterature’, the dribble or minisaga, 50 words, the drabble or microfiction, 100-words, sudden fiction (750 words), flash fiction (1000 words), nanotale and micro-story. This genre possesses a unique literary quality, in its ability to hint at or imply a larger story. In the 1920s flash fiction was referred to as the “short short story”.
Flash fiction roots go back into prehistory, recorded at origin of writing, which included fables and parables, the best know is of course, Aesop’s Fables in the west, and Panchatantra and Jataka tales in India. In Japan, flash fiction was popularized in the post-war period particularly by Michio Tsuzuk. In the United State early forms were found int he 19th century by such notable figures as Ambrose Bierce, Walt Whitman and Kate Chopin.
There are many internet sites and magazines that accept flash or micro fiction. I have submitted micro stories before and found them to be great fun!
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?
Often written in narrative form an autobiography gives the history of a person’s life, written or told by that person.
The definition states:
“he or she gives a vivid description of his or her childhood in their autobiography” Sub sections are memoirs, life story, or personal history.
It differentiates from the periodic self-reflective mode of journal or diary writing because it is a review of a life from a particular moment in time, rather than a diary entry, which although reflective moves through a series of moments in time. In other words an autobiography takes stock of the writers life by way of memory from the moment of the composition. A distinction on autobiography versus memoir is that a memoir is less focused on self and more on others.
The ‘life’ autobiography may focus on a subjective view of the person’s life, which in some cases can lead to misleading or incorrect information by way of the inability or unwillingness of the writer to recall memories accurately.
A ‘spiritual’ autobiography follows the writer’s journey towards God or other deity, which resulted from a conversion. It is a vehicle to endorse his or her new found religion.
A ‘fictional autobiography’ is a novel about a fictional character written as though the character were writing their own autobiography in first-person and reflecting on both internal and external experiences of their character.
An I-Novel is a Japanese literary genre used to describe a confessional type literature where the events related correspond to the author’s life. In many cases it exposed the darker side of society or the author’s own dark side.
A memoir differs from an autobiography as it focuses on more intimate memoirs, feelings and emotions, rather than the ‘life and times’ of a writer in a typical autobiography. For example, memoirs about politicians or military leaders glorify their public exploits.
Have you written or are you thinking of writing your autobiography?
Whose autobiography have you read that you enjoyed?
I still vividly remember reading The Dairy of A Young Girl (Anne Frank) at school. It is such a powerful and emotive book. Of course, I have read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King several times (or more!)
Poetry is literary work, which expresses feelings and ideas with special intensity through distinctive style and rhythm. It can be thought of in terms of different genres and sub-genres based on the subject matter, style, or other broader literary characteristics.
The most famous examples include Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Both told stories through epic poetry. However, the term narrative poetry is more often attributed to smaller works with more appeal to human interest. Other narrative poetry is found in Scottish and English ballads and Baltic and Slavic heroic poems, which are performance poetry with roots in preliterate oral tradition. An interesting speculated point here is that the distinguishing features of poetry from prose, which include kennings and alliteration may once have been memory aids for the bards, who recited the traditional tales.
Other notable narrative poets are: Dante, William Langland, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Tennyson and Robert Burns.
Unlike epic and dramatic poetry, lyrical poetry does not tell a story but is more personal in nature. These poems tend to be shorter, melodic and contemplative portraying the poet’s own feelings, perceptions and state of mind rather than depicting characters and actions.
This type is a major form of narrative literature. Often defined as lengthy poems regarding events of importance or heroic renown in the culture of the time. In a continuous narrative these poems recount the life and works of heroic or mythological characters. This type of poetry has become less common in the 20th century, although Derek Walcott’s epic, Omeros utilized the style.
Using satire this style of poetry can be a powerful vehicle, often written for political purposes, such as in Roman times by Juvenal or John Dryden, a Tory in England or John Wilmot in the 17th century.
The term elegy, originally denoted a type of poetic meter commonly describing a poem of mourning. Elegies are melancholy, mournful and plaintive – a lament for the dead or a funeral song, a reflection on a death or sorrow. However, they can also reflect something the author finds strange or mysterious.
Fables are an ancient literary genre often set in verse. They are succinct stories featuring anthropomorphized animals, plants, inanimate objects or even forces of nature, which illustrate a moral lesson. (See: https://mandyevebarnett.com/2018/01/08/) Verse fables use a variety of rhyme and meter patterns. The most famous fabulist is Aesop.
This poetry is drama written in verse, which can be spoken or sung and is found in many cultures, such as Greek tragedy from the 6th century B.C. It may have influenced Sanskirt drama and Indian bianwen verse dramas in China. It is also found in Persian literature.
Also known as fantastic poetry, of which macabre or weird poetry is a major sub-classification, this genre deals thematically with subjects ‘beyond reality’. Through extrapolation in science or horror fiction, commonly appearing in magazines of those genres.
The ‘father of speculative poetry’ is of course, Edgar Allan Poe, whose Eureka: A Prose Poem anticipated the Big Bang theory.
This is a hybrid genre with attributes of prose and poetry. However, it maybe indistinguishable from micro-story as some examples appear to modern readers as poetic, prose poetry originated in 19th century France. It has gained popularity since the late 1980’s with several journal’s devoted to it.
Sometimes referred to as light verse as well as light poetry, it attempts to be humorous. These poems are brief and can be either frivolous or serious subject based and often feature word play, including puns, adventurous rhyme or heavy alliteration. English light verse is usually formal incorporated in limerick, clerihew or double dactyl. Although this genre can be thought of as casual it can make a serious point in subtle or subversive ways.
Do you write poetry?
Which style do you write?
Have you read any of these genres?
I read the Iliad and Odyssey in school for my ‘A’ level exam (English school) Greek and Roman Mythology course.
Speculative fiction is included in a broad category, which includes science fiction, fantasy, alternate histories (which may have no particular scientific or futuristic component), and even literary stories that contain fantastic elements. It can also be categorized, in some instances with magic realism. In truth speculative fiction is an umbrella genre encompassing narrative fiction with supernatural or futuristic elements.
The genre ranges from ancient works to paradigm-changing and neotraditional works of the 21st century. It is recognized in the author’s intentions or social contexts within the story versions commonly known. The genre was previously termed historical invention (I personally like this term) as characters from various time periods were within the same narrative. And other terms used were mythopoesis or mythopoeia, meaning fictional speculation.
In general it is the creation of a hypothetical history, explanation or ahistorical storytelling. It is not a ‘new’ genre by any means with the genre being used by ancient Greek writers through to the mid 20th century. In its broadest sense the genre captures both conscious and unconscious aspects of human psychology in making sense of the world, and responding to it by creating imaginative, inventive, and artistic expressions.
Interestingly according to publisher statistics, men outnumber women about two to one among English-language speculative fiction writers aiming for professional publication. However, the percentages vary considerably by genre, with women outnumbering men in the fields of urban fantasy, paranormal romance and young adult fiction.
My current work in progress manuscript is a speculative fiction. Life in Slake Patch is set in an alternative future, where the devastation of a World War resulted in the majority of the male population perishing. This created a world-wide matriarchal society.
Have you written a speculative fiction story/novel?
Care to share the details below in the comments?
And one last note as I found this delightful snippet of information after I had posted on science fiction on 15th January.