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Literary Genres

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jennifer shesman

on 19 October 2015

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Transcript of Literary Genres

Literary Genres
Realistic Fiction
Science Fiction
Anything that can happen in real life
Real emotions and behaviors in real settings
About people: their lives, problems, and challenges
Topics include:

friendship family relationships
love/sex school issues: bullying, cliques, fitting in
religion addiction and drug abuse
violence physical and mental disabilities

Tone can range from humorous to serious to bleak.
Realistic fiction can "cross over" with many other genres:
historical, adventure, mystery, sports, romance, even non-fiction - but stays in the "real world."
Many YAs who enjoy this genre aren't familiar with the term "realistic fiction" but rather express that they don't like books with fantastical or supernatural elements. They may ask for books that are like their own lives.
Humorous Fiction
Difficult to define "humor."
Simply - something that makes you laugh.
Humor is a broad characteristic - almost anything goes.
characters, situations, language, tone can all make a book "humorous."
Humor is more of a characteristic than a genre.
Mystery, adventure, fantasy, romance, etc... can all have elements of humor.
Humor is very subjective - this can make recommending humorous books more difficult.
Humor is often mixed with more serious, darker subject matter - comic relief.

Humor can be found in:

slapstick comedy satire
sarcasm ridiculous situations
incongruity wordplay - puns, malapropisms, etc...
hyperbole innuendo and double entendres
Speculative fiction "rooted in the possibilities of science or technology." (Brannen, 2012)
Often takes place in the future or on other planets or universes
Asks - "what if?"
Set in a universe that follows our rules - applies known laws of science but may take them beyond our current understanding

Common topics:
time travel
space travel
alternate universes/realities
genetic engineering/medical technology
science gone mad
dystopia - future Earth
cyber technology
Things to consider:
Science fiction can range from dark (Hunger Games) to humorous (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Plot must be based in real science - if it is completely unbelievable (magic, unicorns, etc..) it becomes fantasy
Steampunk is an interesting mix of science fiction and history
This genre often poses questions (directly or indirectly) about ethical issues - environment, human rights, intellectual freedom.
Can be enjoyed from various stages of reading development
Brannen, Jennifer. All About Fantasy for Teens. Rep. N.p.: n.p., n.d. NoveList.
Web. 20 Oct. 2013. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?
Brannen, Jennifer. All About Horror for Teens. Rep. N.p.: n.p., n.d. NoveList.
Web. 20 Oct. 2013. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?
Brannen, Jennifer. All About Realistic Fiction for Teens. Rep. N.p.: n.p., n.d.
NoveList. Web. 20 Oct. 2013. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?
Brannen, Jennifer. All About Humorous Fiction for Teens. Rep. N.p.: n.p., n.d.
NoveList. Web. 20 Oct. 2013. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?
Brannen, Jennifer. All About Science Fiction for Teens. Rep. N.p.: n.p., n.d.
NoveList. Web. 20 Oct. 2013. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?
Bucher, Katherine Toth, and KaaVonia Hinton. Young Adult Literature:
Exploration, Evaluation, and Appreciation. 3rd ed. Boston: Pearson, 2014.
Story "which is impossible in the world as we perceive it."
(Bucher, 2014)
Contains elements that are not realistic:
talking animals
mythical creatures
"World Building" is very important
According to author Ursula LeGuin: "you get to make up the rules, but then you've got to follow them."
Isaac Asimov says:
"the surreal background of the story in science fiction could, conceivably, be derived from our own by appropriate changes in the level of science and technology. Fantasy, on the other hand, portrays surreal backgrounds that cannot reasonably be supposed to be derived from our own by any change in the level of science and technology." (Asimov, 1981)
Fantasy has its roots in myths, epics, legends - quests - often by an "unlikely" hero
It can be light and humorous (The Princess Bride) or very dark (Neil Gaiman)
World building can lead to lengthy descriptions
Anything goes - as long as the world is consistent
Time travel can be an element in either science fiction or fantasy
in science fiction - time travel is accomplished through science and technology
in fantasy - people travel through time by means of magic or enchantment
Series and trilogies are very common

Magical Realism is an interesting subgenre
"Reworked" fairy tales are popular
High Fantasy involves a hero on a great quest, good vs. evil, adventure
Arthurian legends play a big part - especially in classic fantasy
YAs enjoy fantasy because:
characters are going through rites of passage, finding their place in the world
protagonists might be misfits in the "regular" world but show strengths in the fantasy world
strong female characters often figure prominently
magic, adventurous exploits, mythical creatures = escapism
Story which has elements that you might like to read about but you wouldn't want to experience!
Vampires, monsters, werewolves, serial killers, zombies, ghosts, Satan
Horror is defined by the emotional response it seeks to engender more than the content or plot
Horror is not always supernatural - The Hot Zone, Jack the Ripper
Horror, like humor, is very subjective - what scares one person may not be frightening at all to someone else

People tend to love it or hate it because of the strong emotions involved
Can be a prime target of censorship attempts
Teens enjoy it because:
Life/growing up can be scary! In horror they can experience scary things vicariously
Horror stories have the same appeal as haunted houses or amusement park rides - rush of adreneline
Horror stories can help YAs confront their fears and anxieties from the safety of their couch

Character is thrust into a dangerous situation.
He must use his own resources in order to survive against great odds.
Character struggles against other people, himself, nature.
In the process, lessons are learned about self, life, the world.
Maybe the oldest genre - harkens back to epic tales from oral tradition: Odyssey, Beowulf, Gilgamesh.
Setting is usually very important - may even be considered a character.
Adventure is all about the vicarious thrill - adrenaline rush.
Not just about nature - gangs, terrorists, kidnappers

Mystery involves a central crime, puzzle or problem that must be solved by the protagonist.
Doesn't necessarily involve a murder:
Where is it?
What happened?
Solution is revealed through foreshadowing and clues and should be neither too obvious nor too obscure.
"Red herrings" and suspense are common features.
Solution should not be through "deus ex machina!"
Much like adventure - mystery involves vicarious thrills and characters relying on their own wits and skills to prevail against tough odds.
Plot is very important - clever plot twists help to keep the solution elusive but not impossible.
Characterization is also important - the reader should care about the character and believe in his/her ability to solve the puzzle.
Brains are often more important than brawn.
Sarah Dessen
John Green
Lauren Oliver
David Levithan
Annette Curtis Klause
Neil Gaiman
Neal Shusterman
Maggie Steifvater
Roland Smith
Anthony Horowitz
Gary Paulsen
Will Hobbs
Tamora Pierce
Rick Riordan
Shannon Hale
Brian Jacques
Louise Rennison
Jordan Sonnenblick
David Lubar
Carl Hiaasen
Lois Duncan
Harlan Coben
Joan Lowery Nixon
Blue Balliett
Brannan, Jennifer. "All About Adventure Fiction for Teens." NoveList.
EBSCO, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://imagesrvr.epnet.com/
Brannan, Jennifer. "All About Mysteries for Teens." NoveList. EBSCO, n.d.
Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://imagesrvr.epnet.com/embimages/
Suzanne Collins
William Sleator
Orson Scott Card
Scott Westerfeld
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