Shall we talk about genres?

What is your favorite Literary genre? If you didn’t say “fiction,” “drama,” “non-fiction,” or “poetry” – you need to read this post. Actually, you should just read this post anyway!

Recently, I was on Instagram, talking about literature – my favorite hobby. And a poll came to me, asking us to choose between things we enjoy, like “romance or detective novel” and “film or book.” There I was, having a good time answering the poll when the following option came up: “dystopia or fiction.” Of course, I sent a direct message to the young lady that made the question, saying, “but you can’t choose between dystopia and fiction.” This is a recurring situation in the literary social network – not knowing what genre, genre category, sub-genre, literary device, and figure of speech are. And that’s okay!

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But what is the literary genre anyway? Shall we remember our literature classes? Genre is what we use to categorize different types of film, music, and literature. We have four literary genres – yes, four main genres: Drama, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Each has distinct characteristics, and the reader has certain expectations for each one of them.

For example, when we talk about poetry, we soon think about verses, don’t we? But the truth is that there are several kinds of poems, the subgenres, and each one has specific characteristics — for example, the sonnets, with their 14 lines, and the ballads with their syllabic metrics. There are even poems with complex characters! Yes, poetry can have characters! It is the case of the epic poems, like Beowulf, Paradise Lost, and The Odyssey. The poems have their own characteristics, like the verses and the use of figures of speech, like metaphor, hyperbole, etc.

There’s also Drama. Don’t confuse Drama with the genre of film – where everyone is either weeping, sick, or dying. Drama in literature has nothing to do with it (or almost nothing to do with it). Dramas are the plays that began in ancient Greece and are still being produced. In Shakespeare’s time, Drama was as popular as novels today! This genre has three major categories, tragedy, comedy, and tragicomedy.

Fiction is the most complex literary genre, in my opinion, with countless subgenres. When we think about fiction, we think about books, right? And much of it comes from a technology that changed the world in the 16th century. The invention of the printer made it possible to commercialize stories. With that, literary production got bigger, it no longer needed to be recited as poetry, or staged as Drama. It could be printed and read. Look how beautiful the human mind is! One of the main characteristics of this genre is the text in prose, that is, not in verse. Others, such as plot, characters, climax, and resolution, are also important. Harry Potter is a fiction book, from the subgenre of fantasy, on the theme of the hero’s journey.

Finally, we have non-fiction, a very complex genre, including factual texts, scientific and newspaper articles, and even biographies and diaries.

So, excuse me for not choosing between dystopia and fiction. Making that choice would be a great fallacy! You don’t really have a choice. Dystopia is fiction.

So, what’s your favorite genre?