What the heck is a genre? For a word we use so often to describe our taste in music, books, or art, do we know what it means? A genre is a category that we assign depending on focus and style. By organizing tastes into specific genres, we create rules that define whether or not a book, band, or piece of art belongs to that group. If we want to be complicated, these rules also dictate the length of a book, the query letter approach, and, depending on the focus of the book, whether it falls under the traditional genre or a cross-sub genre. In short, genres are labels we apply to distinguish one work of art from another. Today, I am going to define ten commonly known genres for you.
Fiction versus Nonfiction. This is what we call a no-brainer. Fiction is a work of literature that is entirely…
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Featured Image: Fact and Fiction, Separate but Intertwined
By Peter B. Giblett
According to the Independent Book Publishers Association, the biggest growth areas in books are:
- Personal development & self-help
- Biography, autobiography, or memoirs
- Graphic novels
The fact that four out five of these categories are non-fiction suggests there is real growth in this type of writing. Modern audiences are drawn to non-fiction writing. Historically, non-fiction writing was considered boring, but there isn’t any reason it must be. Open any nonfiction work, and the reader should be excited to explore the knowledge the writer is sharing. There are some great stories available, they simply require writing.
You may know the following, considered one of the great opening sentences in fiction:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was…
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By Ronit Feinglass Plank
I had been writing fiction and wanted to try nonfiction, so I began with personal essays. I didn’t think memoir was for me; in fact I was deliberately avoiding it. I didn’t see a reason to revisit the facts of my confusing childhood and thought memoir wouldn’t be as challenging as creating a world from scratch and putting characters in it. To tell my own story, the story I knew by heart, seemed almost too easy.
I could not have been more wrong. I was about to discover that looking at something you think you know pretty well with fresh eyes and trying to understand it in a new way is definitely not easy. I did try writing several personal essays but the history of how I grew up kept barging in, taking up more and more space. It seemed part of me really wanted to…
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By Anne K. Kaler
How can a jigsaw puzzle help you with your writing?
Let’s start with the metaphor of your writing as a boxed jigsaw puzzle.
You already have everything you need to complete the puzzle picture on the box because no puzzle maker would stay in business long if he left out some pieces. Those writing pieces are lodged securely in the storehouse of your brain, just waiting for your agile mind to activate them. So you already have all the pieces within your life experiences.
Just like the jigsaw puzzle box your mind contains all the “pieces” necessary to re-create “the picture on the box.”
But there’s the problem, isn’t it. After you open the box, spill the pieces out on the table, shuffle through them, just where do you start the re-creation process?
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‘If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.’ – Rudyard Kipling
There is an understandable propensity for confusing narrative non-fiction with the notion of “made up facts”. Alternatively referred to as “creative non-fiction”, it is no wonder that some people focus on the implication of “invention”. However, this is not (or shouldn’t be!) the case.
As Chuck Sambuchino writes for Writer’s Digest, ‘[n]arrative nonfiction is unique … because it tells a true story … but it’s told like a novel’. The genre is a creative form of reportage or otherwise factual storytelling, which utilises literary devices and techniques to create factually accurate pieces that read like stories. It is the presentation of facts in a way that makes people want to read them.
Memoirs are another example of narrative non-fiction: true stories about people’s lives or experiences, presented as accurately as possible. Consider a straight, factual account of a…
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First, a disclaimer: After reading Melissa Fay Greene’s 2002 New York Times Magazine article about the AIDS orphan crisis in Africa, I felt compelled to go to Ethiopia, where I volunteered for three months at orphanages, observed (even participated in) some of the events described in her book, and later served as an informal “fact checker” for her. (Melissa called me once “Rita. Do you remember — were we staying on the second or third floor at the Yilma Hotel?” It is that kind of attention to detail that permeates the reporting in this fabulous book.) I hold her accountable (and am grateful to her beyond measure) for the change in the trajectory of my life: I would not have gone to Ethiopia; I would not have decided to adopt; I would not now be a mother – but for Melissa and her powerful writing.
Now, a warning: If…
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A Halloween-themed blog post from Janice Gary:
You could say I’m a ghostwriter. All memoirists are. We commune with the spirits of the past, inhabit old haunts, sift through the bones of the people we once were (and once knew) in an attempt to reanimate what was and illuminate what is.
Our ghosts are real. Or at least as real as we remember them. One thing we cannot do is make stuff up. And we don’t need to. We have more than enough material to conjure life on the page. But that’s part of the problem. What do you do with it all – all that experience, all that emotion? What spooks those of us who write from life the most is this dilemma: how to wrangle this vast, unwieldy life of ours into a well-shaped story.
Fiction writers have the old tried and true (and yes, trite) basic plot triangle…
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I was contacted recently by a friend of a friend. You know how that works. Somebody tells somebody else that they are writing a novel, and somebody says, “Oh, I know an editor. You should contact them to help you with…” Fill that in as you like. Now, I don’t at all mind helping writers of all levels. I’ve given countless hours of my personal time helping writers transform stories into better versions of said story. I do this because I want everyone to be successful. I do it because I care. I do it because quality matters. In the situation above, it was clear to me that this particular writer needed to learn some craft elements before they published. Their story had no plot.
As a writer, it is important to make sure that your story is the best possible story it can be before you publish (either self-publish…
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