Types of Literary Genre
Have you ever felt pretty overwhelmed by all the different types of literature out there? There is a lot, but luckily they all fit under just three major genres. The rest are all sub-genres, and even the subgenres have subgenres. The three major genres are Prose, Drama, and Poetry.Now, like I said within each of these genres there are several subgenres, but before we get to those let’s go ahead and define the main genres.
First, Prose. Prose can be defined as a form of literature that follows a normal progression of conversation and syntax. Think about how you have a regular conversation with people, MOST people aren’t speaking poetically with one another. That would get annoying rather quickly.
Examples of prose include:
The News– which is the announcing of daily incidents or updates within government, culture, industry, etc.
Biography– biographies tell the story of someone’s life.
Anecdotes– which are made up by people in order to teach a lesson or illustrate a point to one’s audience.
Essay– An essay typically illustrates the thoughts of an author on a specific issue, event, or philosophy.
Oration– This is basically a speech, and caters to the intellect, emotions, and will of the audience.
Novels– a novel is generally long and narrative. It tells a story with characters, a plot, and a setting.
Short Story– a short story is exactly what it sounds like, a narrative story that is short. Like a story you could read to someone in just a short amount of time over coffee or tea. However, even though they are shorter they still contain characters, a plot, and a setting.
Fables– a fable is also a story that is passed down. A fable’s overall purpose is to teach a lesson. However, all the characters in a fable are things that can’t normally talk. A fable is about animals, plants, or forces of nature that can talk and act like humans.
Legends– legends are about real life people and what they did. Legends always have an important purpose, but the facts are always a little exaggerated to make them more interesting and exciting!
Plays plays are tell a story with scripted dialogue, but are meant to be performed on a stage with actors, vocalists, props, etc.
The next major genre we will talk about is poetry.
Poetry is a literary piece which uses rhyme, rhythm, and other styles in order to convey, strongly, a feeling or idea.
There are two main types of poetry, with several types of subtypes within each.
The two main types of poetry are lyric poetry, and narrative poetry.
Lyric poetryis a type of poetry intended to be sung with an instrument. However, the definition has expanded to just be anything that expresses the feelings and emotions of the poet.
Narrative poetry is when a very influential phenomenon or incident is being described. This may be something that happened in real life, or it could be imaginary.
Now, let’s take a look at 7 different types of lyric poetry.
First, a Corrido. A corrido is a popular type of poetry or song that typically has a measure of eight. These poems are generally about suppression, historical events, and what daily life is like for servants.
Second, an Ode. An ode has no specific structure, however, classic odes typically contained 3 big parts: The strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Odes are typically spent praising an event or individual in a very emotive and intellectual way.
Third, Elegy. This is a rather downcast type of poem. An elegy conveys feelings of sadness, heartache, and suffering. Also, it generally conveys a theme of death.
Fourth, an Awit. This generally contains four stanzas with 12-syllables in each stanzas. Awit translates to mean song. It is written with the intent of being sung. An awit tells a story, and each stanza is a grammatically correct sentence.
Fifth, Folk Songs. Folk songs are made to represent a very specific culture or region. Folk songs are typically songs that are passed down from generation to generation. These are very short poems, and can be written about pretty much anything.
Sixth, Sonnets. A sonnet adheres to a very specific form. They all contain 14 lines. Now there are different types of Sonnets, but they each follow a specific rhyme scheme and structure.
Lastly, Psalms. Psalms are a type of lyrical poetry that express thoughts and emotions in light of truth about God. Psalms are meant to extol and glorify God.
Now, onto Narrative poetry. We will take a look at three main types: Epic, ballads, and metrical tale.
First, an Epic. An epic is a classical kind of poetry that found its beginnings in Greece. Epics contain a legendary hero, like gods and goddesses. The hero contains some type of superhuman strength and valor. The action of the hero is typically spread out across multiple settings, and contains an exaggerated writing style.
The next type of Narrative poetry we’ll look at is a ballad. Now, a ballad is actually intended to be a song, but it is a type of narrative poetry, because it is driven by a plot and contains multiple characters. A ballad is broken up by 4 line stanzas, and contain a rhyming scheme. It tells a story by laying out all the crucial events in detail.
Now, lastly, before we go onto Drama, a metrical tale can be fiction or nonfiction, and can have a range of topics. Generally the topics are love, stages of life, or a longing for adventure.
Alright, now on to Drama. We will be taking a look at four different types: Farce, Melodrama, comedy, and tragedy.
Farce. A farce is written with the intent to be acted out on stage or in film. They are meant to engage the audience with embellished, exaggerated, and wildly unlikely situations. A farce incorporates a lot of physical humor; which just means that they use their bodies in a ridiculous way for laughs.
Melodrama. A melodrama is specifically written to attack the emotions. Melodramas place a heavy focus on the plot rather than the characters themselves. Often times you will see melodramas used in operas.
Comedy. Comedy has also found its origin in Greece. Comedy refers to a work that is designed to evoke laughter. It was originally used in Ancient Greece in the form of Political satire in order to sway the minds of the voters.
And for the last type of Drama, Tragedy. A tragedy is centered around various types of human suffering. Typically there is a main character who is at the top, and eventually plummets to the bottom. A tragedy is designed to evoke feelings of pity and/or fear in an audience.
Now, the different literary genres have changed over the years, and continue to change today; whether a new subcategory is added, taken away, or whatever. But anything that might be added, will fit under one of the three categories that we discussed today.
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