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"Written genrs" (more commonly known as "literary genres") are those works of prose, poetry, drama, hybrid forms, or other literature that are distinguished by shared literary conventions, similarities in topic, theme, style, tropes, or common settings, character types, or formulaic patterns of character interactions and events, and an overall predictable form. Genres are not wholly fixed categories of writing, but their content evolves according to social and cultural contexts and contemporary questions of morals and norms. The most enduring genres are those literary forms that were defined and performed by the Ancient Greeks, definitions sharpened by the proscriptions of our earliest literary critics and rhetorical scholars such as Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Aeschylus, Aspasia, Euripides and others. The prevailing genres of literary composition in Ancient Greece were all written and constructed to explore cultural, moral, or ethical questions; they were ultimately defined as the genres of epic, tragedy, and comedy. Aristotle's proscriptive analysis of tragedy, for example, as expressed in his Rhetoric and Poetics, saw it as having six parts (music, diction, plot, character, thought, and spectacle) working together in particular ways. Thus Aristotle establishes one of the earliest delineations of the elements that define genre.
An epic poem, epic, epos, or epopee is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with the gods or other superhuman forces, gave shape to the moral universe for their descendants, the poet and his audience, to understand themselves as a people or nation.
Tragedy is a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences. While many cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, the term tragedy often refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of Western civilization. That tradition has been multiple and discontinuous, yet the term has often been used to invoke a powerful effect of cultural identity and historical continuity—"the Greeks and the Elizabethans, in one cultural form; Hellenes and Christians, in a common activity," as Raymond Williams puts it.
In a modern sense, comedy is a genre of fiction that refers to any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, television, film, stand-up comedy, books and novels or any other medium of entertainment. The origins of the term are found in Ancient Greece. In the Athenian democracy, the public opinion of voters was influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theaters. The theatrical genre of Greek comedy can be described as a dramatic performance which pits two groups or societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Northrop Frye depicted these two opposing sides as a "Society of Youth" and a "Society of the Old." A revised view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions that pose obstacles to his hopes. In this struggle, the youth is understood to be constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to take recourse in ruses which engender very dramatic irony which provokes laughter.
Literary genres are often defined by the cultural expectations and needs of a particular historical and, cultural moment or place.
The major literary genres defined by topic are:
Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often inspired by real world myth and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became literature and drama. From the twentieth century it has expanded further into various media, including film, television, graphic novels, manga and video games.
Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. It has been called the "literature of ideas", and often explores the potential consequences of scientific, social, and technological innovations.
Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the American Old West frontier and typically set from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. Well-known writers of Western fiction include Zane Grey from the early 20th century and Louis L'Amour from the mid-20th century. The genre peaked around the early 1960s, largely due to the popularity of televised Westerns such as Bonanza. Readership began to drop off in the mid- to late 1970s and has reached a new low in the 2000s. Most bookstores, outside a few west American states, only carry a small number of Western fiction books.
Other major genres are clustered together based on the form of how they are written, from the constrained syllables of a haiku to the controlled rhymes of a limerick.
A memoir is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private, that took place in the subject's/person’s life. The assertions made in the work are understood to be factual. While memoir has historically been defined as a subcategory of biography or autobiography since the late 20th century, the genre is differentiated in form, presenting a narrowed focus. A biography or autobiography tells the story "of a life", while a memoir often tells a story "from a life", such as touchstone events and turning points from the author's life. The author of a memoir may be referred to as a memoirist or a memorialist.
A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person's experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or curriculum vitae (résumé), a biography presents a subject's life story, highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and may include an analysis of the subject's personality.
A play is form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of dialogue or singing between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from London's West End and Broadway in New York – which are the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world – to regional theatre, to community theatre, as well as university or school productions. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference as to whether their plays were performed or read. The term "play" can refer to both the written texts of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.
Other genres are defined by their primary audiences:
Young adult fiction (YA) is a category of fiction written for readers from 12 to 18 years of age. While the genre is targeted to teenagers, approximately half of YA readers are adults.
Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are enjoyed by children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader.
A genre may fall under one of two categories: fiction and nonfiction. Any genre can be either a work of fiction (nonfactual descriptions and events invented by the author) or a work of nonfiction (a communication in which descriptions and events are understood to be factual).
Fiction broadly refers to any narrative consisting of imaginary people, events, or descriptions—in other words, a narrative not based strictly on history or fact. It also commonly refers, more narrowly, to written narratives in prose and often specifically novels. In film, it generally corresponds to narrative film in opposition to documentary.
Nonfiction or non-fiction is content that purports in good faith to represent truth and accuracy regarding information, events, or people. Nonfiction content may be presented either objectively or subjectively, and may sometimes take the form of a story. Nonfiction is one of the fundamental divisions of narrative writing— in contrast to fiction, which offers information, events, or characters expected to be partly or largely imaginary, or else leaves open if and how the work refers to reality.
An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a writer. More broadly defined, an author is "the person who originated or gave existence to anything" and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created.
Subsets of genres, known as common genres (or sub-genres), have developed from the types of genres in written expression.
In publishing, literary fiction novels are regarded as having more literary merit than most commercial or "genre" fiction. All the same, a number of major literary figures have also written genre fiction, for example, John Banville publishes crime novels as Benjamin Black, and both Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood have written science fiction. Furthermore, Nobel laureate André Gide stated that Georges Simenon, best known as the creator of the fictional detective Jules Maigret, was "the most novelistic of novelists in French literature".
Comics is a medium used to express ideas through images, often combined with text or other visual information. Frequently, comics takes the form of sequences of panels of images. Often textual devices such as speech balloons, captions, and onomatopoeia indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information. The size and arrangement of panels contribute to narrative pacing. Cartooning and similar forms of illustration are the most common image-making means in comics; fumetti is a form which uses photographic images. Common forms include comic strips, editorial and gag cartoons, and comic books. Since the late 20th century, bound volumes such as graphic novels, comic albums, and tankōbon have become increasingly common, while online webcomics have proliferated in the 21st century with the advent of the internet.
A graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word "novel" normally refers to long fictional works, the term "graphic novel" is applied broadly and includes fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term "comic book", which is generally used for comics periodicals.
Literary fiction is a term used to distinguish certain fictional works that possess commonly held qualities to readers outside genre fiction. Literary fiction has been defined as any fiction that attempts to engage with one or more truths or questions, hence relevant to a broad scope of humanity as a form of expression. Genre fiction is a term used to distinguish fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre.There are many sources that help readers find and define literary fiction and genre fiction.
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These are genres belonging to the realm of nonfiction. Some genres listed may reappear throughout the list, indicating cross-genre status.
In popular culture, formula fiction is literature in which the storylines and plots have been reused to the extent that the narratives are predictable. It is similar to genre fiction, which identifies a number of specific settings that are frequently reused. The label of formula fiction is used in literary criticism as a mild pejorative to imply lack of originality.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to literature:
Crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery, mystery novel, and police novel: These terms all describe narratives that centre on criminal acts and especially on the investigation, either by an amateur or a professional detective, of a serious crime, generally a murder. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as historical fiction or science fiction, but the boundaries are indistinct. Crime fiction has multiple sub-genres, including detective fiction, courtroom drama, hard-boiled fiction and legal thrillers. Most crime drama focuses on crime investigation and does not feature the court room. Suspense and mystery are key elements that are nearly ubiquitous to the genre.
Mystery fiction is a genre of fiction usually involving a mysterious death or a crime to be solved. Often with a closed circle of suspects, each suspect is usually provided with a credible motive and a reasonable opportunity for committing the crime. The central character will often be a detective who eventually solves the mystery by logical deduction from facts presented to the reader. Sometimes mystery books are nonfictional. "Mystery fiction" can be detective stories in which the emphasis is on the puzzle or suspense element and its logical solution such as a whodunit. Mystery fiction can be contrasted with hardboiled detective stories, which focus on action and gritty realism.
Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre.
Action fiction is the literary genre that includes spy novels, adventure stories, tales of terror and intrigue, and mysteries. This kind of story utilizes suspense, the tension that is built up when the reader wishes to know how the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist is going to be resolved or what the solution to the puzzle of a thriller is.
Creative nonfiction is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Creative nonfiction contrasts with other nonfiction, such as academic or technical writing or journalism, which is also rooted in accurate fact but is not written to entertain based on prose style.
Although the genre is very old, the romance novel or romantic novel discussed in this article is the mass-market version. Novels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." There are many subgenres of the romance novel, including fantasy, historical romance, paranormal fiction, and science fiction. Romance novels are read primarily by women.
Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) is a national, non-profit organization, founded in 1982 by Derrick Murdock and other professional crime writers. Its mandate is to promote crime writing in Canada and to raise the profile of the genre's established and aspiring authors.
Paranormal romance is a subgenre of both romantic fiction and speculative fiction. Paranormal romance focuses on romantic love and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the speculative fiction genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Paranormal romance may range from traditional category romances, such as those published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, with a paranormal setting to stories where the main emphasis is on a science fiction or fantasy-based plot with a romantic subplot included. Common hallmarks are romantic relationships between humans and vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, and other entities of a fantastic or otherworldly nature.
Elements of the supernatural and the fantastic were an element of literature from its beginning. The modern genre is distinguished from tales and folklore which contain fantastic elements, first by the acknowledged fictitious nature of the work, and second by the naming of an author. Works in which the marvels were not necessarily believed, or only half-believed, such as the European romances of chivalry and the tales of the Arabian Nights, slowly evolved into works with such traits. Authors like George MacDonald created the first explicitly fantastic works.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to fiction:
Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to fantasy:
Peter Tuesday Hughes (1940?-2005?) was an American science fiction and mystery author. He was an early exponent of the "gay gothic" subgenre. Though published primarily by Greenleaf Classics, a firm known for insisting that its authors include graphic sex in their works, his novels "[depict] gay relationships with a depth surprising for the markets he published for." However, some of his contemporaries objected to the pessimism Hughes occasionally expressed.
Ediciones B is a Spanish publisher, which currently operates as a division of Penguin Random House. Ediciones B is headquartered in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain; with branches throughout Latin America.