Tag Archives: literary genres

Genres of Literature – Mystery


Mystery_fiction

 

Mystery literature deals with the solution of a crime or the unraveling of secrets. Any scenario that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.

The most common scenario for this genre usually involves a mysterious death or a crime to be solved. It focuses on a closed circle of suspects, with each suspect having a credible motive and also reasonable opportunity for committing the crime. A detective is the main character, who will eventually solve the mystery by logical deduction from facts fairly presented to the reader. However, sometimes mystery books are non-fictional. “mystery fiction” can be detective stories but the emphasis is on the actual puzzle or suspense element with its logical solution revealed later, such as in whodunit’s.

Due, in part, to the lack of true police forces prior to the 1800’s, mystery fiction was unheard of.  Many towns only had constables or a night watchman at best. As populations grew in towns and cities, police forces were institutionalized, and detectives employed – thus formulating the mystery novel.

The most famous mystery sleuth was of course Sherlock Holmes. The novels and subsequent movies and TV shows have delighted audiences for generations.

Do you write mystery novels?

What or who is your favorite mystery sleuth story?

 

 

 

Genres of Literature – Horror


horror-genre

Horror is a genre of fiction, of which, the defining trait is to provoke a response; either emotional, psychological or physical, within readers that causes them to react with fear, dread, disgust, or is frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting and even startles it’s readers with the text.

Horror: Ancient Greece and Rome

This genre has ancient origins with roots in folklore and religious traditions, which focused on death, the afterlife, evil, the demonic and also a ‘thing’ embodied in the person. This manifested as stories of witchcraft, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts.

Horror: Medieval Era

Much of horror fiction derived itself from the cruelest faces in world history, particularly those who lived in the fifteenth-century. “Dracula” can be traced to the Prince of Wallachia Vlad III, whose alleged war crimes were published in German pamphlets in the late Fifteenth Century and resulted in stories of horrifying detail.

Gothic horror: 18th century

Slowly the horror genre became traditional Gothic literature. 18th century Gothic horror drew on sources of seminal and controversial elements of the supernatural instead of pure realism.

Horror: 19th century

After the Gothic tradition blossomed the genre became the horror literature we now know in the 19th century. Influential works and characters still continue to resonate, such as Brother’s Grimm and Hansel & Gretel (1812) and of course Frankenstein (1818) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (1820)

Horror:20th century

Cheap periodicals became prolific at the turn of the century, leading to a boom in horror writing. Horror writers of the time included H.P. Lovecraft pioneering cosmic horror and M.R. James redefining the ghost story. Also the serial murderer became a recurring theme.

Contemporary horror fiction

As most of you know Stephen King is my hero and it is the best-known contemporary horror writer. His stories have delighted and frightened many of us for decades, from Carrie to Sleeping Beauties and all those tales in-between.

I have to admit as a prolific reader of Mr. King, I am wary of ever writing a horror story because I don’t think I can measure up to his expertise.

Do you write horror? What theme do you favor?

What horror writers/books have you read and ‘enjoyed’?

 

 

Genres of Literature – Historical Fiction


Historical

Historical Fiction are novels with an historical setting in which fictional characters and events take place. Although some narratives do center around real historical figures this might be why definitions vary. The Historical Novel Society defines the genre as works written at least fifty years after the events described, while critic Sarah Johnson has defined the genre as being set before the middle of the last century (20th century). Her definition is based on the author having written from research rather than personal experience. Another view by Lynda Adamson states that some people read novels written in the past i.e. Jane Austen as if they were historical novels.

What is your definition of an historical novel?

No matter which definition you agree with, historical fiction is a literary fiction where the plot takes place in a setting in the past. These major historic events mostly take an ‘off stage’ part, while the characters inhabit the world in which they take place. Used as an umbrella term it can also be applied to works in other narrative formats, such as performing or visual arts like theater, cinema, television, opera and in more recent times video games and graphic novels.

The essential part of an historical novel is that it pays attention to the manners and social conditions that the era depicted ensuring the readers can understand why the characters respond in the manner they within their environments. Unfortunately, not all novels are accurate in their details and this causes tension about the historical authenticity  between readers and critics and even scholars.

Sub-genres 

Some sub-genres insert speculative or ahistorical elements into a novel such as alternative history of historical fantasy.

Other sub-genres include:

Documentary fiction

These novels incorporate not only historical characters and events but reports of everyday events found in 20th century newspapers.

Fictional biographies

A fictional biography of a historical figure.

Historical mysteries

Also known as historical whodunits, this sub-genre’s plot involves solving a mystery or crime with a setting in the distant past.

Historical romance and family sagas

Novels with a background detail set in a particular period, but that does not play a key role in the narrative. They can also contain more modern-day sensibilities, and more conventional characters in the novels would point out the heroine’s eccentricities, such as wanting to marry for love – not a true reflection of how the society worked at that time in most cases.

Alternative history and historical fantasy

Where the established history is changed with dramatic results or modern day characters return to the past and change it. And also narratives are loosely based on historical events but fantasy elements are added including sorcery and supernatural creatures.

Children’s historical fiction

This has become a prominent sub-genre resulting in narratives exploring other time periods via time travel or time portals transporting modern day characters. It allows children to learn and understand about different eras.

My medieval fantasy novella, The Rython Kingdom has elements of history through its characters but it is not historically correct in regards to the monarchy at that time.

Have you written historical fiction?

Was it strictly historically accurate or was it in one of the sub-genres?

 

 

 

 

Genres of Literature – Science Fiction


scifi-genre

Science Fiction is a story based on the impact of potential science, either actual or imagined. It is one of the genres of literature that is set in the future or on other planets. The title is often shortened to SF or sci-fi. This genre typically deals with imaginative concepts, such as futuristic science and technology, space and time travel, even faster than light travel but also parallel universes and extraterrestrial life. The narrative can explore the potential consequences of scientific and innovation ideas developed to extremes.

Science fiction elements can include:

  • A temporal setting in the future with alternative timelines or in a historical past that contradicts the known facts of actual history
  • A spatial setting or scenes in outer space, on other worlds or even subterranean earth.
  • Characters do included aliens, mutants, robots and other imagined or predicted beings.
  • Technology can be futuristic or plausible. Examples being teleportation, mind control, ray guns and super-intelligent computers.    
  • Scientific principles that contradict accepted physical laws, such as time travel.
  • New and different political or social systems. 
  • Imagined future history of humans on earth or other planets.
  • Characters with paranormal abilities, such as telekinesis or telepathy.  
  • Other universes or dimensions and travel between them.

Sub-genres include:

Space opera, which is an adventure science fiction set mainly or entirely in outer space or on sometimes distant planets.

Utopian fiction, which portrays a setting that agrees with an ethos believed by the author of another reality.

Dystopia fiction, a portrayal opposed by the authors ethos.

wormhole716a

Time Travel fiction where by utilizing a vehicle of some kind an operator can select a time period and purposefully travel there.

Military science fiction, where there is a conflict between national, interplanetary or interstellar armed forces.

Superhuman stories reflect the emergence of humans with abilities beyond the norm.

Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic 

Apocalyptic fiction covers the end of civilization through war, while post-apocalyptic deals with the near aftermath of such a war. 

Steampunk and dieselpunk, this genres are based on a futuristic technology existing in the past (usually the 19th century) and often set in the English Victorian era. They do contain prominent elements of science fiction through the use of fictional technological inventions.

Cyberpunk and biopunk. This is a reasonably ‘new’ genre emerging in the early 1980’s. It combines cybernetics and punk with a time frame usually in the near-future with dystopian settings. 

Have you written a science fiction story/novel? Care to share?

I have a YA novella, Clickety Click that deals with aliens living in secret on Earth. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/679515  https://www.amazon.ca/Clickety-Click-Mandy-Eve-Barnett/dp/1927510856

Clickety Click

And my latest YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria is set on another planet. Launch early 2018.

I also have a steampunk inspired, The Toymaker (7K words) that may become a novella in the future. Time will tell. 

Do you try writing in different genres? What has been your experience?

 

Genres of Literature – Comedy


humor-

comic novel is a novel-length work of humorous fiction. Many well-known authors have written comic novels, including P.G. Wodehouse, Henry Fielding, Mark Twain and John Kennedy Toole.

Writing comedy is not an easy task for most of us. You can not rely on the comedian’s use of pause and facial expressions with the written word. It is however a skill to portray a person or situation within a narrative in such a way to make your reader laugh.

Personally I have not tried to write a comedy novel, it is a skill I do not possess unfortunately. This list may help you decide if writing in this genre is for you. (Original link – http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/humor-writing-filled-novel)

1. Know your genre well enough to play with it.

The genre of your story can be a rich source of humor writing. Knowing your category will give you endless material to parody and poke fun at. Start by making a list of the conventions, clichés and tropes of your genre so that you can choose which ones to turn on their heads in your story. You can even find ready made lists of clichés on the submission guidelines pages of magazines and publishers where they note things they don’t want to see ever again

2. Surprise your audience.

I am always surprised to find people who are surprised that surprise is the essence of comedy. That’s what a punchline is, a surprise. Surprises can be as simple as an unexpected end to a scene, an action or even a sentence. Think of the Cave of Caerbannog sequence in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The first surprise is that the deadly beast guarding the cave is just an apparently harmless rabbit, but the bigger surprise is when the bunny savagely kills Sir Bors. Surprises can also be as complex as a major plot twist that changes the entire story. Think about the end of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

3. Use layers of humor to appeal to a wider fan base in your humor writing.

I’m not suggesting you use humor to appeal to wide people, only that particular kinds of comedy appeal to different people and age groups, so be sure to layer your laughs in multiple ways. Concrete physical humor like slapstick, crazy action and absurdity will amuse almost anyone—including the youngest kids. Slightly more abstract humor including wordplay, farce, punning and other jokes start to appeal to kids around 8-12 years old. Sarcasm, irony, parody and innuendo kick in for audiences around 12-15. After 15, pretty much anything goes, allowing you to set up more complex humor writing like elaborate running gags, self-reflexive jokes, running gags, self-reflexive jokes or even running gags.

4. Use conflict.

Conflict is the engine that makes every story go, even the funny ones, so build your central character around exaggerated, absurd or obtuse struggles. Chase your character up a tree and then set that tree on fire. Use all three of the key sources of conflict—character versus character, character versus environment and character versus itself—as opportunities for humor. Remember that of these three, the character versus itself is the most emotionally engaging. Audiences relate when they see a character pulled in opposite directions by forces everyone experiences. Safety versus freedom is an internal struggle we can all understand because we all want to feel safe but also want to feel free. Take a universal internal conflict like that and amplify it to comic proportions, or make your character ridiculously biased toward one side of the struggle, or split the struggle between two main characters who take their sides to silly extremes.

5. Think the details through thoroughly.

Your novel should contain outrageous, absurd, non-sequitur ideas and jokes, but it shouldn’t be a joke. It has to have its own consistent logic and laws to make it feel real. Your audience has to be able to take it seriously enough to get swept up and want to follow along. Unlike a silly movie or TV show, reading requires a good bit of work from your audience, so you have to put a good bit of work into it. If you’re writing a fantasy, think through the details of how magic works, the history of the world you’ve created and how the various races of elves, men, goblins, or armadillos, relate to each other. Then make that stuff funny. For example, much of the humor of the hilarious Complete Enchanter series by L. Sprague De Camp is built on the characters bumbling their way through the logic underlying the magical systems of various myths, legends and fictional worlds.

6. It’s not enough to be funny, you have to be meaningfully funny.

Even the best one-line jokes are memorable because they seem to suggest a deeper meaning. Meaning is what makes stories feel relevant and valuable rather than just entertaining, so give some serious thought to what you are trying to say with your silly novel. It can lend a lot of clarity to your work to think about how you would describe its meaning if you had to reduce it to a single sentence. Many comedy stories are powerfully affecting because they are more than just hilarious. The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern (William Goldman) which revisits that old gem, “Love conquers all,” and the fourth Discworld novel Mort that reminds us, “Don’t fear the reaper.” Terry Pratchett once said that Mort was the first Discworld novel he really liked because in the earlier books the plot was just there to support the jokes, whereas in Mort, the jokes were there to support the plot.

7. Write to make yourself laugh (but then have other people check your work).

Comedy is a subjective thing. There’s no formula for what’s funny and no surefire way to predict what will make people laugh. Consequently, the best you can do is write stuff that amuses you. Of course, after you’ve written it, you should definitely check to make sure other people find it funny. Test your material on anyone willing to read it, and make sure that at least a couple of those folks are not your dear friends who will lie to you because they love you. Use the feedback you get to tighten your jokes, reinforce what’s working and eliminate what isn’t. No matter how funny you find something, if other people don’t laugh, it’s probably got to go. Weeding out superfluous jokes and comic bits to leave only the best can be painful, but when you’re done, you might just find yourself with a novel.

 

When writing a novel or a play the vehicles for comedic opportunity are satire and political satire,  using comedy to portray persons or social institutions as ridiculous or corrupt, thus alienating their audience from the object of their humor. Parody on the other hand, subverts popular genres and forms, critiquing those forms without necessarily condemning them.

Other forms of comedy include screwball comedy, which derives its humor largely from bizarre, surprising (and improbable) situations or characters, and black comedy, which is characterized by a form of humor that includes darker aspects of human behavior or human nature. Similarly scatological humor, sexual humor, and race humor create comedy by violating social conventions or taboos in comic ways. However, many of these vehicles are rife with problems in today’s society and not as acceptable now as in the past.

A comedy of manners typically takes as its subject a particular part of society (usually upper class society) and uses humor to parody or satirize the behavior and mannerisms of its members. Romantic comedy is a vastly popular genre that depicts burgeoning romance in humorous terms and focuses on the foibles of those who are falling in love.

Do you write comedy?

Have you enjoyed comedic novels? Which one was your favorite?

Please join in the conversation…