Thursday, July 14, 2016

Genre Overview: Subgenres II


Note: Although I have subdivided the genres into fifty subgenres, be aware that the “line” is neither hard nor fast. Many of the subgenres crosses territories both within a main genre (e.g. many gothic novels also have elements of paranormal or psychological horror) as well as between the main genres (e.g. romantic suspense is a mix between suspense and romance).

Humor
The Lits
                Literature’s equivalent of situation comedies (sitcoms), often target to a specific demographic (e.g. chick lit targeted to single woman in their twenties and thirties). Example: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, The Secret Life of Becky Miller by Sharon Hinck

Satire
A social commentary novel with humor, intending to point out the follies of society and politics. Example: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Romantic Comedy
                A romance and humor blend in which humorous circumstances are mainly what keep the hero and heroine apart. Example: the film While You Were Sleeping

Parody/Spoof
                A story whose humor derives from exaggerating elements of pop culture or familiar trope; very similar to satire. Example: the film Enchanted, Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Black Comedy/Gallows Humor
                A story whose humor deals with the dark and often serious topics, such death and crime. Example: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

               
Mystery
Detective/PI/Hardboiled
                Mysteries, usually written in first person, whose protagonist is a trained detective or private investigator. When the protagonist has a strong cynical bent, the mystery is frequently categorized as a hardboiled mystery. Example: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Police Procedural
                Mysteries solved by cops or other law enforcement, often focused on the intricacies of the law-enforcement process. Examples: T.V. series CSI, The Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly

Courtroom Drama
                Mysteries involving the prosecution of person who is believed to have committed a crime. Example: T.V. series Perry Mason, A Time to Kill by John Grisham

Cozy
Mysteries solved by an amateur sleuth. Example: Murder, She Wrote, Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Whimsy series, G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories

 
Romance
Historical Romance
Romance in a historical period. Example: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Romantic Comedy
                A romance and humor blend in which humorous circumstances are mainly what keep the hero and heroine apart. Examples: the film While You Were Sleeping

Romantic Suspense
                Suspense novels blended with a romance between a hero and heroine. Example: The O’Malleys by Dee Henderson, Submerged by Dani Pettrey

Contemporary Romance
                    A romance in the contemporary real world. Examples: Sophie’s Heart by Lori Wick, Happily Ever After by Susan May Warren

Paranormal Romance
A romance in a world with paranormal elements (e.g. vampires, angels, ghosts), and often either the hero or heroine is not human. Examples: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, John Olson’s Shade.
               

Science Fiction
Steampunk
               Science fiction placed in a historical setting, usually an English Victorian world. Example: the works of Jules Verne are the foundation for this modern subgenre.            

Apocalyptic/Post-apocalyptic/End Times
Science fiction dealing with the end of the world (at least as we know it) through apocalyptic events. Examples: The Left Behind series by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye

Dystopia
                A futuristic story where government, and society in general, has gone very wrong. Example: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hard Science
Science fiction rooted in current scientific facts and theory, emphasizing technical details. Examples: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Vern, Contact by Carl Sagan, The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Soft Science
Science fiction concerned more with the soft sciences (e.g. anthropology, sociology) and less with the plausibility of the hard science. Examples: “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Space Opera
Science fiction blended with adventure which occurs almost entirely in outer space, frequently with an emphasis space warfare. Examples: The Star Trek T.V. series, The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Superhero
Science fiction which is usually set in a contemporary world, where a few people with special talents battle evil. Examples: the film The Avengers, Failstate by John Otte, Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans

Time Travel
A science fiction, often blended with historical fiction, wherein a character travels to the past or, more rarely, the future. Examples: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger,

 
Suspense & Thriller
Romantic Suspense
                Suspense novels blended with a romance between a hero and heroine. Example: The O’Malleys by Dee Henderson, Submerged by Dani Pettrey

Supernatural Suspense/Spiritual Warfare
                Suspense novels involving the supernatural, usually angels and demons. Example: Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness

Techno/Cyber Thriller
                Thrillers whose plots are driven by computers or other advanced technology. Example: Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

Spy/Espionage
                Suspense and thriller stories whose main character is a spy or espionage plays a major role in the plot. Example: Casino Royale by Ian Flemming

Political Intrigue
Suspense & thriller stories where politics play a major role, usually in the form of corrupt government, government cover-up, or government conspiracy.

Legal Thriller
Thrillers whose plot is driven by courtroom battles and the justice system. Example: The Firm by John Grisham

Medical Thriller
                Thrillers whose plot centers on medicine, disease, and hospitals. Example: work of Richard Mabry

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Genre Overview: Subgenres I

Note: Although I have subdivided the genres into fifty subgenres, be aware that the “line” is neither hard nor fast. Many of the subgenres crosses territories both within a main genre (e.g. many gothic novels also have elements of paranormal or psychological horror) as well as between the main genres (e.g. romantic suspense is a mix between suspense and romance).


Adventure
High Seas
Adventures occurring on the oceans, often involving piracy. Example: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Western
                Adventures set in the United State’s Old West. Example: Work of Zane Gray

Survivalist
Adventures focused on a stranded protagonist trying to survive the forces of nature. Examples: Robinson Caruso by Daniel Defoe, Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss.

Animal Tales
               Adventures about animals, often written from the animal’s point of view. Example: Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


Contemporary
Women’s Fiction
Stories focused on the real-world problems of women, such as raising a family or dealing with aging parents. Example: The work of Karen Kingsbury 

Amish
                Stories set in and around Amish communities. Example: Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning

Sports
                Stories about the sports world. Examples: the film Miracle on Ice, The Youngest Hero by Jerry Jenkins

Social Commentary
                Stories focused on understanding social trends. Examples: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Coming of Age
Stories focused on the struggles of protagonist’s transition from childhood to adulthood. Example: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

 
Fantasy
Alternate Reality
Stories where real-world characters travel to another world. Example: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Epic/High Fantasy
                Traditional fantasy about a quest. Example: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Fairytale
Medieval-styled stories often about princes, princesses and kingdoms; or retellings of classic fairytales. Examples: the work of the Brothers Grimm and Has Christian Anderson; Cinder by Marissa Meyer; Beast by Chawna Schroeder

Magical Realism/Urban Fantasy
                Stories with a real-world setting into which are inserted supernatural figures or elements, like fairies in the modern world. Urban fantasies have specifically a city setting. Examples: The Giver by Lois Lowry, Knife by R. J. Anderson

Myth/Legend
                Stories about mythological or legendary figures. Examples: Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead

Science Fantasy
                Stories with a strong supernatural element set in a futuristic or technologically advanced world. Examples: the Star Wars film series, Firebird by Kathy Tyers

 
Historical
Biblical
                Stories about biblical characters or set in biblical times. Examples: Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace

American
                Historical novels set in the United States, or pertaining to U.S. history. Example: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

International
                Historical novels set aboard, frequently in Europe during the past century. Example: The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak, The Zion Chronicles by the Thoenes

Victorian & Regency
                Historical novels set in Victorian or Regency England, which are reminiscent of the work by Jane Austen. Example: the work of Julie Klassen

Saga
              Often tracing the history of one family through several decades, though sometimes the history of one place through many decades. Example: James A. Michener’s Centennial, The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy           

Historical Romance
                Romance in a historical period. Example: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

 
Horror
Gothic
Horror stories set in a (pseudo)-medieval building and which often features death, madness, and occasionally romance. Examples: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
Paranormal
Horror stories employing supernatural elements for the fear factor, such as ghosts, vampires, and zombies. Examples: The Sixth Sense, the work of H. P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (also considered gothic)
Psychological
Horror stories which trap you through mind games or making you doubt what is real. Example: Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Genre Overview Postscript: Application Questions

As you start exploring all the fabulous genres of fiction, here's some of questions to ask about each genre:

Adventure
            How did the protagonist survive his situation? What skills can we learn from this?
              What was the protagonist pursuing? Why was it important he obtain it?
              What does this story say about our desire for immortality and the ways in which we try achieve it?
              What does this teach us about God’s promises about the future and our need for them?

Contemporary
               How do small, daily choices accumulate?
               Where does our value as humans come from?
               What does this story say about what is valuable in life?
               What does this reveal about our perceived value and how God values us? 

Fantasy
              How did the character act with heroism?
              What sacrifices were made and why?
              In what ways does it stretch the imagination?/Which “what if?” questions does this story pose?

              What does the story reveal about what God is capable of doing?
              What familiar thing do you see in a new light?
              What does this story reveal about our need for worship?
              What does this story teach about how we do or should worship?


Historical
               What problems did people in the past struggle with?
               How can we learn from their failures and successes?
               What can you learn about using language with beauty and precision in mind?
               What fresh perspective for now does this story provide?
               What does this story reveal about God’s guidance and our need for it? 

 Horror
                What do you learn about the nature evil?     
                What do you learn about human nature?
                What do you learn about death?
                What does this story say about truth?
                What does this reveal about God’s faithfulness, reliability, truthfulness and unchanging nature?
                What does this reveal about His power?

 Humor
                What logical fallacies must we watch out for?
                What is it seen as folly and why?
                What is important in life? 
                How can we learn to see the ridiculousness in our lives so we don’t take things so seriously?
                What outside perspective does this story provide?
                What does this teach us about God’s perspective versus our perspective?
 
Mystery
                What makes the crime solver good at their job and how can you learn some of those skills?
                How was logic applied, both in the committing of the crime and solving of the crime?
                How did a “small sin” lead to murder or other crimes?
                What can be learned about human nature, especially our capacity for sin?
                What does this story say about justice?
                How does that reflect the characteristic of God’s justice? 

Romance
                What can you learn about the correlation between external actions & internal motivations?
                How do we work with people different from ourselves? 
                What does this story say about our need to love and be loved?
                What does this reveal about God’s love and how to love each other?

Science Fiction
                How is technology used in this story? What does this say about technology?
                What is the logical conclusion of the ethics & morality presented?
                What does this story teach about what makes us human?
                What does this story say about right and wrong, boundaries and absolutes?
                How does it reflect God’s standards and absolutes—and our need for them?

Suspense/Thriller
            What questionable actions did the protagonist take, and why? Was this right, why or why not?
                How did the villain justify his actions?
                What do we learn about integrity, about how and when to take a stand?
                What does this story say about the sources of safety and protection?
               What does this reveal about God’s protective nature?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Genre Overview Conclusion

Over the last several weeks, we've had the opportunity to look at ten of the main genres in fiction: Adventure, Contemporary, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, and Suspense/Thriller. Each has their advantages. Each has their disadvantages. All of them have something to contribute. 

Of course, these aren’t the only genres out there. Many genres can be mixed and matched: a romance and a suspense can be combined for romantic suspense. Genres can also be graded according to ages or reading levels. Or they can be divided by how content is handled into Christian fiction, inspirational fiction, and secular fiction. As result, you can have a nearly endless variety. 

So go, explore. Stretch your perspectives and your boundaries, using fiction to help discover who God created us to be.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Historical: Heart Hole

The historical fiction genre helps us as readers draw a connection between past and present. That chronological connection points to the heart hole of historical fiction: our desire for guidance. We don’t like making mistakes, but we know we don’t know enough to avoid making every mistake. So we look backward, remembering the old adage, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”
 
Therefore, we read historical novels because they remind us that we need guidance, and when we acknowledge the Lord, the true source of guidance, He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:6), whispering in our ear, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Historical: Advantages

Historical fiction can be a vivid way to visit the past. As a result, this genre does offer us some things that few other genre can:
  • Historical fiction increases our vocabulary and our appreciation for language.
  • It can encourage us to use our language more precisely.
  • It teaches us about the past.
  • Through those insight into the past, we gain a clearer perception of the present, as we trace how one thing led to another and then to another.
  • It reminds us that most of our problems aren’t really all that unique to now.
  • It can provide us clues on how to handle the present through the successes and failures of past. 

 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Historical: Drawbacks

It can be great fun to visit the past. However, very few of us would truly want to live there. But sometime historical fiction draws such a beautiful picture we start to romanticize the past. We begin to believe that the past was somehow less complicated or more innocent than now. The result is discontent with the present.

Also, while it is good to appreciate the beauty of the prose, the attempt to copy that style can cause loss of clarity in our day-to-day communications. Indeed, the temptation will be strong to use what you learn, both historically and linguistically, to show off and make yourself look smart.