Category Archives: Literary Forms

Speculative Fiction

Science fiction, horror, fantasy, alternative history and dystopia all share common characteristics. The most common characteristic is that all of these genres present a ‘what if’ premise. In other words, they all ask their readers to speculate. Speculative fiction is a term that encompasses all literature that is speculative in nature.

Speculative fiction is very wide in scope.

It doesn’t fit neatly into any specific genre. Instead, it blends and mixes elements of different genres in order to create stories that challenge reality. Writer Orson Scott Card defines speculative fiction as “stories that take place in a setting contrary to reality. ” Speculative fiction seeks to provoke thought about human existence by basing stories about alternative realities.

Speculative fiction doesn’t fall neatly into the category of science fiction because it is not always based on science. Many writers find the science fiction genre too limiting, and speculative fiction allows writers to work with elements found outside the arena of science fiction. For example, the speculative genre can include stories that present an alternative reality that may reverse traditional scientific laws.

Speculative fiction can be about dystopic futures such as Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This story is about a future in which Christan Fundamentalists take control of the government. The group then creates a caste system for women in which some women are designated to be wives and others serve as handmaids, or surrogate mothers.

Speculative fiction also includes stories about alternative versions of historical events or fantasy worlds. The genre also contains stories that contradict historical or scientific evidence, and social conventions. In order to enjoy reading stories that fall under the speculative genre, a reader must be willing to suspend any feelings of disbelief and open themselves up to possibility.

Many writers and stories may be labeled under speculative fiction. Some popular examples include Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game,” Ray Bradybury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” J.R. R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia,” Stephen King’s “The Stand,” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” All of these stories contradict reality and challenge the audiences’ ideas about human existence.

A great resource for finding a large collection of speculative fiction online is the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Currently, the database contains 38,858 authors and 196,368 titles. The most searched for story is Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game.” The novel is about a future in which Earth is under threat of attack from an alien nation. In order to prepare itself, the leaders of the Earth have resorted to testing and selecting child prodigies and enrolling them in battle schools. The story centers around one particular prodigy, Ender, and his experiences in battle school.

Speculative fiction is popular because it contain the best elements from a wide range of genres. Writers enjoy the label because it doesn’t limit their creativity. Instead, the speculative genre allows writers to break outside of the mold of science fiction and create stories that speculate on whatever subject they imagine. Speculative fiction is the ultimate escape from reality.

Shade, D.D. What is Speculative Fiction? Lost Book Archives. 2007. Hatrack River Enterprises, Inc. 16 Mar. 2007.< br />Speculative FAQ. 2005. 16 Mar. 2007. at_id=1#q2
Category: Speculative Ficiton.Wikipedia. 2 Feb. 2007. 16 Mar. 2007. fiction.
The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Al von Ruff. 1995-2007. 16 Mar. 2007.

Short Stories

The short story is basically a miniature novel. It relies on the same literary devices that are used in the novel such as character, plot, theme and language. However, due to its length, the short story must use these devices more effectively. Although the length of a short story is not restricted, most are between 1,000 to 20,000 words long.

The general rule of thumb is a person should be able to read an entire short story in one sitting.

A short story revolves around a single plot consisting of a small amount of characters. The plot occurs over a short period of time and little exposition is given. In addition, a short story begins almost instantaneously and the only information that is relevant to the story is revealed. The action moves rapidly and literary devices are arranged to achieve a single lasting impression in a short amount of time.

The origins of the short story, can be traced to some of the first forms of written poetry. One well known example is Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.” However, most historians agree that the progenitor of the short story was Boccaccio’s “Decameron” in 1351 along with the French translation of “The Thousand and One Nights” in 1704.

The short story as a literary form really began to flourish during late 19th century. This was mainly due to the growth of print magazines and journals. Their wide circulation enabled authors to reach a wider audience, which created a strong market demand for short fiction.
Short story masterpieces include “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “The Tell-Tale Heart “by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is recognized by many writers and critics as the master of the short story.

Perhaps the short story that came the closest to achieving a Poe like effect is “The Lottery ” by Shirley Jackson. The story is about a small community that gets together for a lottery drawing. Jackson creates the perfect amount of suspense as readers are led to believe the lottery is something that every person is the community is hoping to win. It is only within the last few paragraphs that readers learn the grim truth that the lottery is really about a community sacrifice.

Presently, there isn’t as much demand by magazines and journals to publish short stories. However, this shouldn’t suggest that short stories are no longer being written or published. Many magazines including the The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker still publish short stories. Quite a few writers also submit their short stories to be published in anthologies such as The Best American Short Stories series.

In short, short stories are an entertaining form of literature to read, especially for those pressed for time. This particular literary format is ideal for amateur writers that may not be experienced enough to complete a full length novel. Short stories are also a great format for experienced writers to test their creative skills. Investing in a collection of short stories is an ideal way to fill small pockets of time.

“The Lottery.” Wikipedia. 7 Mar. 2007. 14 Mar. 2007 .
Short Story. Wikipedia. 28 July 2006. 28 July 2006 .
Charcteristics of the Short Story. Higher Results Consultancy. 28 July 2006 .

Free Audio Books: IPOD, MP3, Download, On Cd

As busy as Americans are these days, most people don’t have the time to sit down and read a book. Books on CD or tape are a better option for those individuals who prefer to listen to a book than read it. Books come in many formats such as CD, cassette, and mp3.

Audio books are a great way to experience novels without actually sitting down to read them.

The classic place to purchase audio books on CD or cassette is from local bookstores. Booksellers such as Barnes & Noble and Borders have large selections to choose from. They usually average at around $20 per audio book, although it usually depends on the length and popularity of the book. Examples of recent bestsellers include James Patterson’s “Step on a Crack,” and Sophie Kinsella’s “Shopaholic & Baby.”

Audio books that can be purchased in bookstore chains are normally created with vocal professionals and tend to be voiced by celebrities or voice over specialists. They’re sometimes even voiced by the author. The person that provided the vocals should be listed on the front cover.

Local libraries also carry books on CD and cassette. They can be borrowed for free or for a small fee. Check the local library for their prices. Even though some libraries charge for rentals, they are still much cheaper than buying them in a store. If the reader intends to only listen to a book once, borrowing it from a library is a good choice.

Audio books can also be rented online. provides a subscription renting service for its members. For a low monthly fee, users can receive audio books in the mail. They can keep them for as long as they like since the company doesn’t charge late fees.
When finished, simply pop the audio books in the mail. Shipping is free. Once the company receives the book that was shipped, they’ll send another from the patron’s list. Subscriptions start as low as $11.95 per month.

Another way to listen to books is to download them. Mp3 audio books can be searched for and purchased on many Internet websites. is a popular audio book download site. They offer low prices on mp3 audio books that can be used with the latest mp3 players. This is a great option for people who enjoy listening to books during jogging or other types of exercise.

There are services that also provide iPod audio books for download. Apple iTunes, the mp3 downloading program for iPod owners, provides a large selection of popular iPod audio books such as Michael Connelly’s “The Lincoln Lawyer.” The best part about this service is the price. Users can purchase and download audio books for as low as $2.95 per book.

There are certain audio books that can be found for free on the Internet. provides free downloads of public domain mp3 audio books. Public domain means that the books are old classics that are now free to use. Most of the books are very well known, such as Charles Dicken’s” Oliver Twist” or Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Each book can be downloaded in either mp3 or ogg file formats.

Audio books can be listened to while on a road trip, on the treadmill, or while working in a cubicle. Busy people can get more reading done if they fit audio books into their routine. They can be bought at a store, borrowed at a library, or purchased on the Internet. Audio books are a convenient way to get reading done without the hassle of a physical book.

SimplyAudioBooks.15 Feb. 2007 . 1997-2007. Audible, Inc. 15 Feb. 2007
One for the Books. Apple. 2007. Apple Inc.15 Feb. 2007
LibriVox. 15 Feb. 2007 .

Discount Cook Books: Cooking, Dieting, Betty Crocker

The genre of cooking literature has expanded significantly to include every facet of gastronomy. With this expansion, cook books are published on every diet, lifestyle, budget, skill level, and preference imaginable. From learning to boil water to the more advanced Austrian fondant, there is something for everyone to learn from cook books.

Cook books are focused on any need, from the beginner to the professional chef.

Regional and national cooking, dietary constraints, time saving meals, main ingredients, and ‘how to cook’ basic cooking book publications are available at any book retailer. These different specializations help every cook find the perfect book. From “Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out” to the “New Classic Chinese Cookbook,” there is a cook book for every lifestyle, situation, and taste.

One of the most time-honored publications is “The Joy of Cooking,” first published in 1931, recently republished in a 75th anniversary edition. This cookbook “remains one of the greatest teaching cookbook ever written” by having chapters that have evolved with time, such as the addition of 30 minute meals and an encyclopedia-like Know Your Ingredients section. The book is a family affair: Erma Rombauer originally authored it in 1931 and all subsequent editions until 1975, while her daughter and son, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker, have been authoring revisions since 1975.

Betty Crocker cook books were once considered the gold standard for cooking. Betty Crocker is still a brand that means quality food, and the “Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book,” the first publication under Betty Crocker, is owned by more than 25 million cooks.
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Other Betty Crocker cook books focus on specializations such as diabetes diets, healthier choice meals, Christmas and quick meals, all of which range in price from $15 to $25. Betty Crocker’s line of books can be found at most any book retailer.

Dieting cook books have become a sub-genre of cook books. Nearly every diet plan has its own cook books. Atkins, South Beach, and the Hamptons diet all have cook books. Lower fat, sugar or sodium, high protein or low carbohydrate – there is an dieting cook book for every diet that has been invented.

Medical related cook books make life much easier for many who have diabetes, cancer, or are concerned with Alzheimer’s or pre-mature aging. “The Diabetes and Heart Healthy Cookbook,” “Eating Well Through Cancer,” and “Super Foods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life” are all major sellers and have helped many battle, beat, and live with the a variety of health issues.

Wherever recipes are found, the written word will transforms a few ingredients and instructions into the art of cooking. The amount of specialized recipes and cook books available appeals to every taste, budget and skill level. By choosing cooking books that fit lifestyle, diet, and time, anyone can take control of their own health and well-being, while becoming an expert cook along the way.

Sources: 1997-2007., Inc. 25 Jan 2007 .
Betty Crocker. 2007. General Mills. 25 Jan 2007 .
Cookbook. Wikipedia. 25 Jan. 2007. 25 Jan 2007 . Wikipedia. 25 Jan. 2007. 25 Jan 2007 .
Joy of Cooking. 1997-2006. Simon & Schuster. 25 Jan 2007 .

Cheap Discount Books For Children And Childrens Book Clubs

Books for children have experienced many changes since the classic era of the Little Golden Books or Dr. Seuss series. Today, books for children are a major industry in the world of publishing. Children’s books are customized to encompass a variety of subjects and multiple reading levels. Choosing a book from such a large genre can be a daunting task for most parents.

Selecting books for children may seem as easy as visiting the nearest bookstore and grabbing a book from the Children’s Literature section. But, with so many options it’s important for parents to select a book that benefits their child’s particular interests. As a result, consideration should be put into finding and purchasing the right book.

Conducting research will ensure that a child receives a great experience with books. However, it can be difficult to know where to begin among such a vast collection. There are even books to help select the right books for children based on age, interest, reading level, culture and genre.

The Children’s Book Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making reading enjoyable for children, is a helpful reference towards finding suitable books for children. They advise that books for children should be chosen according to age, reading level and mental and visual development.

It’s also important to be creative when selecting books for children. Children usually have a favorite author or book series. Check local stores, author websites and local schools for book fairs, book signings or special events featuring those types of books.

One type of special event hosted by bookstores is a book reading. Book readings are fun social events that introduce books to children. For example, the newly-released movie about Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, has resulted in many bookstores featuring readings of her books.

Budget may also be an important factor for parents when selecting books for children. Cheap children’s books can always be found, but it is important to make sure that money is being spent wisely. Discounted prices do not always ensure quality reading material.

Children’s book clubs are a great resource for finding quality discounted books for children. Popular children’s book clubs include the Oprah Winfrey Book Club and Highlights Magazine Online Book Club. However, it’s important to exercise caution before joining children’s book clubs. Some clubs have rules requiring members to purchase a certain number of books at full price.

The best sources to consult about selecting books for children are children. Talk to children about their interests, watch a child at a bookstore and note the type of books he or she gravitates towards. Age, reading skill level, interests and price will all contribute to narrowing down choices for children’s books.

A child’s first experiences with literature will be shaped by how books are presented to them. Parents should demonstrate their own passion for reading to their children. Parents will help make children successful in reading and in life by participating in their reading habits.

Barnes and Noble. 13 Jan. 2007 <>.
Choosing a Children’s Book. 2005-2006. The Children’s Book Council. 12 Jan. 2007 .
International Children’s Digital Library. 12 Jan. 2007 .
Highlights Book Clubs for Kids. Highlights for Children. 13 Jan. 2007 <>.
Oprah’s Books: Kid’s Reading List. 2007. Harpo Productions, Inc. 13 Jan. 2007 .


Historiographical Metafiction Historiographical metafiction is a literary genre derived from the post-modern literature movement. Post-modern literature posits that there is no singular absolute truth, but instead only the existence of multiple truths. The post-modern movement emphasized the subjective experience

Rare And Out-of-Print Books

Though books, including classic works of literature, drama and satire, can introduce readers to different emotional spaces and inspire fresh and seemingly-transcendent perspectives, they ultimately are a product. As consumers in the 21st century, people never completely leave the marketplace. Books are as involved in the overwhelming traffic of the marketplace as gold, cars and real estate.

If a literary product fails to sell and make profit, then the publisher will terminate any future publication of the work, leaving the book out-of-print and left to a limited population.

For example, Madonna’s infamous and promiscuous book Sex was published by Warner Brothers in 1992. Besides the loyal Madonna worshippers able to recite verbatim every lyric from the Immaculate Collection, this provocative take on 20th century sex was a poor seller. Consequently, Warner Brothers, the all-encompassing media mogul, decided to permanently shelve the work and halt any future publication. Since it reached the publication graveyard, Madonna’s Sex has been resurrected to become highly valued as an out-of-print book; the cheapest listing on is $68.

Besides the Material Girl’s photographic thesis on the highest form of physical intimacy, other famous out-of-print books include Winston Churchill’s World Crisis, a personal history on World War I by the famous British Prime Minister.
Even the work of literary giants, such as Hunter S. Thompson’s Curse of Lono and Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, made the list of popular out-of-print books. Evidently, no author, no matter the extent of his or her critical acclaim, is immune to succumbing to the terminal disease of being out-of-print.

As in the case of Madonna’s book, many rare and out-of-print books can experience a resurrection; however, this will not happen though its original publisher. This revitalization is ironically due to the same powerful, abstract entity responsible for kicking it to the curb years before: the marketplace.

With Web sites like E-Bay and Amazon, no book is ever off of the market and no reader is ever left wondering if their beloved, out-of-print text has disappeared forever. The Internet is the unlikely savior of initial literary failures and has resuscitated the lives of thousands of books, ranging from topics like Irish-knitting to letterpress printing. Other sites to uncover rare and out-of-print books include, and Also, local used bookshops frequently shelve written diamonds in the rough within their dusty, but textually-fertile shelves.

An afterlife does exist within the marketplace of literary products. With the likes of the Internet and quaint vintage bookstores, finding a rare or out-of-print book is a possibility. All it requires is access to the Internet, eager persistence and an ironic sense of gratitude to the marketplace of books.

Online Books In An Electronic Age

Online Books

You probably could have predicted its eventual movement to the ubiquitous, all-encompassing Internet. You can buy groceries, pay bills and even purchase three-bedroom homes online. So, of course, reading an online book or e-book, or downloading and audio version onto an iPod, may not seem as outlandish as it did more than a decade ago.

Reading books has an established place in American normalcy. Readers can peruse their Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer versions of “The Da Vinci Code,” “A Million Little Pieces” and “A Purpose Driven Life” on planes or public transportation, without minor annoyances like torn pages, lost bookmarks and bent covers. You can essentially find any of your favorite books in the form of an online book or audio e-book.

Finding online books and e-books is easy. The simplest way is to use your favorite search engine, or you can visit some of the most popular e-book stores like and To download the audio book onto your Blackberry or iPod, you can visit most music Web sites and download the audio books just as you would an mp3 file.

However, traditionalists and lovers of books may argue against the inherent worth of an online book. While convenience and the quick gratification elements of the Internet are often the arguments supporting the implementation of Web technology, the questions frequently following these assertions are the same for books.

Some believe the Internet is taking away from the most genuine aspects of reading—holding the text itself. Just as some musicians find the power in grasping the album cover, fervent readers and writers find the philosophical, emotional and revolutionary power in possession. Many also find reading online books can create physical discomfort. Researchers have found sitting at a computer screen for an extended amount of time can harm eye sight or create neck and back pain.

Does the design of a computer, its architectural layout—like the one you are currently reading from—affect how one reads? Or does the lack of physically turning a page affect how the reader progresses through and understands the work?


The Novel

A novel is a long fictional narrative prose that is typically more than 50,000 words and contains characters, action, and a plot. Novels are written for various purposes and can be used as a form of entertainment, propaganda, personal expression, and social critique. It is essentially a work of imagination that is grounded in reality.

The novel is a fairly recent genre of fiction that has existed for only the past 300 years.

The word novel comes from the Italian word novella which refers to a prose tale that was popular during the Renaissance. The novel has its roots in past forms of short story prose such as Elizabethan prose fiction, French heroic romance, and Spanish picaresque tales. Cervantes Don Quixote written in 1605 is considered the most important precursor to the novel. The format evolved form the desire to realistically depict and interpret the human character in a social situation. The official emergence came with the appearance of Daniel Defoe’s Robin Crusoe written in 1719. The novel then quickly began to thrive during the 18th century in Europe.

There are several elements that make up a novel: plot, character, setting, and scope. The plot is a story line depicting a series of events involving both the characters and their actions. In order for the plot of a novel to be effective it must have context in the form of character, action, and setting. The characters are personalities in the story with unique qualities. Novels differ from other types of literature in that it places more emphasis on character. The setting is the environment of the novel. Setting not only includes geographic location but also the social climate, historical period, atmosphere, and social traditions. The final element is the scope or length. A novel differs from a short story in that it is longer, more complex, and deals with multiple issues that affect its characters.

There are many different types of novels. Genres range from romance, historical fiction, science fiction, to mystery, thriller, and satire. Novels are also categorized by the literary periods in which they were written in. Although novels contain essential elements, many authors have exercised artistic license by experimenting with certain styles. Authors have experimented with point of view, word play, the passage of time, and other literary techniques. Different forms of literary criticism have evolved to better understand the complexities that make up novels.

Epic Poetry

Epic Poetry

An epic poem is a long narrative poem documenting the exploits of a hero in relation to the beliefs and culture of his or her society. An epic poem serves as a tool to summarize, express, and preserve the ideals and mythical and historical traditions of a nation during a critical period of its history.

Epic poetry always deals with persons and events that are considered to be historically real by the poet and the poet’s audience. The emphasis of an epic poem is national rather than individual in that the quest of the hero serves to gratify a sense of national pride.

For a poem to be considered an epic poem it must contain certain elements. An epic poem is written in a long narrative form that differs from a narrative poem in terms of scale. Epic poems are written in a high style that avoids popular meter and verse patterns and makes wide use of similes. The heroes in epic poems are always gods or goddesses, or extraordinary men or women of great national or cosmic significance. The heroes are able to undertake superhuman deeds involving some sort of conflict or battle. There should also be a main antagonist who is often supernatural as well as various mythical, human, or animal helpers.

The epic poem usually begins with the announcement of the subject or quest that is undertaken. This is followed by an invocation of the Muse by the hero seeking guidance or instruction. The action begins in media res, a literary device in which the narrative starts in the middle of the story instead of from the beginning. The characters, setting, and conflict are then introduced through a series of flashbacks. The hero then begins to make catalogs of warriors, ships, and armies. This is usually followed by formal speeches, a journey to the underworld, and a battle in which the hero usually uses a weapon of supernatural origin. All the while the hero is making use of the epic simile which differs from a regular simile in that is is more elaborate and more ornate.

Epic poems can be divided into 2 classes: oral epic poetry and literary epic poetry. Oral epic poems are the product of preliterate societies and their oral poetic traditions. They were orally designed with specific details and sounds to capture the audience’s attention. Oral epic poems were usually written down after centuries of oral transmission. The first recorded early epic poem is the Sumerian Gilgamesh. Other well known examples of oral epic poetry include Beowulf and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Literary epic poems are literary poems written in imitation of oral epic poems. Writing a literary epic poem requires considerable research and knowledge about the form and style of oral epic poetry. Some well known examples of literary epic poems include Virgil’s Aeneid and Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Haiku Poetry

The Haiku

The haiku is a form of poetry that derives from a 16th century form of Japanese poetry. It is considered a minimalist form of poetry mainly due to its brevity. The structure consists of a 17 syllable verse structured in three lines of 5-7-5 syllables.

The lines in the poem are not rhymed. The purpose of the haiku is to serve as an expression of an epiphany or insight. The poem is designed to take an ordinary moment in time and render it extraordinary.

The haiku derives from a type of Japanese court poetry called a tanka. The tanka was popular during the 9th-12th centuries and was written to explore religious and courtly themes. The structure of the tanka consisted of five lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. The first part of the poem was called the hokku or starting verse . The hokku set the tone for the rest of the poem. The father of the tanka is considered to be a 16th century Japanese monk named Basho. However, it was in 1892 that Masasoka Shiki shortened the tanka up to the hokku which is where the modern haiku primarily evolved from.

There are many different opinions as to what elements comprise a haiku. Traditionally, the haiku was to have a seasonal reference called a kigo. However, most modern day haikus do not contain it. Most poetry experts agree there are two critical components to the poem. One is the turn or shift which usually occurs between the second and third lines. The turn is a shift in perspective that juxtaposes the other images in the poem. Essentially, the poem must have a juxtaposition in which two elements or lines in the poem indirectly relate to the third line.

The second critical component is an epiphany or insight. The content or subject of the poem is something a person sees in everyday life that has suddenly taken on a more important meaning. The poem is supposed to capture a moment in time. Due to its emphasis on being in the moment the haiku is frequently associated with Zen Buddhism. Both place a high value on the present moment and human interactions with nature. However, haiku poetry does not aim to serve a religious or philosophical purpose. Instead, it is spiritual in nature and strives to see beauty and meaning in the ordinary.


The Sonnet

A sonnet is a 14 line poem with a carefully written rhyme scheme. It is usually written in iambic pentameter, a meter of poetry with five patterns of stressed/unstressed syllables to a line. The sonnet can be divided into two sections. The first section usually presents the theme or raises an issue or doubt.

The second section operates to answer the question, resolve the problem, or drive home the poem’s point. The change that occurs between the two sections is called the turn and helps to move forward the poem’s action. Various forms exist, but there are two main sonnet types: The Italian or Petrarchan and the English or Shakespearean.

The Italian sonnet is named after the Italian poet Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374). During the early Renaissance, Petrarch developed the sonnet to its highest level. The Italian form was then introduced into English poetry in the early 16th century by Sir Thomas Wyatt. The two sections of the Italian sonnet are called the octave and the sestet. The octave consists of the first eight lines and contains a rhyme scheme of abbaabba. A rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhyming lines in a poem. The sestet consists of the remaining six lines and has a rhyme scheme of cdecde, cdccdc, or cdedce.

The English sonnet was developed first by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547). However, it was William Shakespeare that made it famous in England. The Shakespearean form is structured into four divisions: three quatrains (four line stanzas) and a rhymed couplet. It follows a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. Famous poets of the English form are Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, and Longfellow.

Both the Italian and the Shakespearean sonnet share some characteristics. Both form breaks or turns between lines eight or nine. Both also frequently end in a couplet. A Spenserian sonnet is a combination of the Italian and Shakespearean forms. It was invented by Edmund Spencer when he wrote the Faerie Queene in 1590. The Spenserian form uses three quatrains and a couplet. It also uses a linking rhyme scheme between the quatrains of abab bcbc cdcd ee.

The sonnet is considered to be one of the most artistic forms of poetry. The rules and restrictions that comprise its form make it both an artistic and technical challenge to poets. It is also pleasing to hear read aloud. The set rhyme patterns create a kind of musical effect on the ears. Writing a sonnet is a great way for a poet to challenge his or her creative, artistic, and technical skills.

Dramatic Literature


Drama is a form of literature that is performed. It differs from other forms of literature such as the novel and short story in that it is designed to be performed by actors using theatrical devices. It is usually written in the form of a play which serves to tell a story that revolves around conflict and emotion.

The play utilizes certain elements such as dialogue, action, and characterization in order to create both an oral and visual performance. Drama is subject to interpretation by the reader and as a result each perfromance achieves a different effect on the audience.

Drama shares many of the same elements of fiction. It must contain a plot, characters, setting, dialogue, and a theme. However, drama places more emphasis on the devices of dialogue and character. The dialogue has three major functions. It serves to advance the plot, establish setting, and most importantly it is used to reveal a character’s thoughts, responses, and emotional states. This is important since the primary focus is human nature which is portrayed through characterization. Characterization is not only dependent on dialogue but also the manner in which the character speaks, the actions they perform, and what other characters report. Another essential element of drama is staging. Staging is the visual detail of the play. Staging includes the stage directions and movements of the characters, the scenic background, the props, costumes, lighting, and music.

Drama must also follow a certain structure divided into acts and scenes. The structural pattern of a play is very similar to the structural pattern of a short story. It has an introduction followed by rising action which introduces the conflict.
The rising action leads to the climax followed by the falling action which leads to the conclusion of the play. However, this structure is not set in stone. Many 20th century dramatists like Samuel Beckett have experimented with the structural elements of drama in his play Waiting for Godot .

There are many different genres of drama, but they all derive from two basic types: comedy and tragedy. Both developed from the Ancient Greeks. Comedy is a play that shows the humorous side of human nature as portrayed through the actions of the characters as they try to solve a conflict. It makes use of human error, mistaken identity, awkward meeting, and verbal humor. It can essentially be divided into two categories: high and low. High comedy focuses on intellectual humor relying on the use of sophisticated witty dialogue. A popular example is Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Low comedy focuses on achieving laughter through the devices of jokes, gags, slapstick humor, and clownish physical activity. A popular example is William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

Tragedy is the other basic type of drama. It is a play that evokes pity and terror from the audience and deals with important social, personal, or religious issues. The main character or protagonist usually suffers from a character flaw that impedes his or her struggle to overcome the obstacles in the play. The tragedies of the Ancient Greeks has evolved over the centuries into the traditional tragedy of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and into modern day tragedy of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

Drama is a staged art that constantly undergoes experimentation. Film and television shows such as sitcoms and soap operas have all evolved from traditional forms of drama. Drama can be performed in any medium from city parks and theaters to restaurants and movie screens. It is a great from of literature that can be enjoyed by any audience.

Science Fiction

Science Fiction

Science fiction is a literary genre that utilizes science and technology to examine the human condition. The science and technology used are extrapolations of existing scientific fact and reasoning. Many of the events take place within a setting of future possibility involving robots, space travel, interplanetary travel and wars, aliens, and alien invasion.

Most science fiction functions as a form of social criticism and is characterized by being future oriented, rationalistic, and technological.

There are certain elements a story must contain in order to be considered science fiction. The story must contain elements of science and technology or construct an image of the future by projecting present trends of science and technology. As a result, it is important for writers to accurately extrapolate scientific information. Stories usually take place in scientific settings like space, other planets, or alternate dimensions. The genre is also generally dystopic in nature in that it centers around an imaginary future society that is flawed or imperfect due to the affect or misuse of science and technology. In this way the genre is designed to predict or define the future.

Currently, there is much disagreement between critics over what actually constitutes science fiction. This is because it is very close in nature to the literary genre of fantasy. However, it is generally accepted that in order to be considered science fiction a story must have elements of science whereas fantasy relies more on magic and mythology instead.

The first science fiction story was written in 175 AD by a Greek named Lucian of Somosata. His story was called True History and was about a trip to the moon in a ship carried by a great whirlwind. However, modern science fiction is generally considered to have grown from the roots of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein written in 1818. The genre was further developed into a more scientific romance style by writers Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne. Verne wrote the popular novels Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870). The British author, H.G. Wells, further developed the genre with his novels War of the Worlds (1898) and The Time Machine (1895).

Science Fiction emerged as a distinct genre in 1926 with the publication of the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories. Focus on good writing, plot development, and characterization within the genre was further encouraged by the standards set by John W. Campbell Jr.’s magazine, Astounding Science Fiction in 1937. The 1950’s brought the popularization of the paperback novel and with it the success of major science fiction talents Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ray Bradbury. These writers revolutionized the genre and brought it to its current level of development.

Today, many great works of science fiction literature have been adapted to film and television. Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Isaac Asimov’s I Robot, and Phillip K. Dick’s Minority Report are some of the most popular. Other writers were able to bring their short stories and novels to television with such series as The Twilight Zone and Star Trek. As advances in both technology and science continue to be discovered there will always be new material for the genre of science fiction.

The Thriller Genre

Thriller fiction is a literary genre that centers around continuous fast paced action in order to create an atmosphere of excitement and suspense. It tends to focus on the profession of the protagonist and how the protagonist must use his or her skills and knowledge to get out of a dangerous situation.

The genre covers a variety of professions and settings. Thrillers are very popular because readers are able to follow the action step by step allowing them to participate both emotionally and intellectually in the story’s complications.

There are many characteristics that make up a thriller. First, the story must be fast paced and compelling. The plot is propelled by continuous action in order to hold the interest of the reader. The action must place the protagonist in both physical and emotional danger. The story must also contain extensive details and technical language related to the profession or subject the plot is centered around. Character development is secondary to action and detail of the story. Protagonists are usually strong individualists who live by their own rules. Protagonists often work alone because they operate in a world filled with betrayal and deception. The protagonist must fight against a villain that is determined to wreak either personal, national, political, or international destruction.

Thriller fiction was invented by British crime writer and journalist, Edgar Wallace. Wallace wrote mainly crime thrillers in which the main protagonist was usually a special investigator that worked outside the police force. Some of his novels include The Four Just Men (1905) and The Green Archer (1923). Many writers copied Wallace’s style in stories published in dime novels and pulp magazines. The next writer to revolutionize the genre was Ian Fleming. Fleming invented the spy thriller and introduced his famous character, James Bond, in his novel Casino Royale (1953). The author Robert Ludlum continued to mold the genre to its present level with his novels including The Bourne Identity (1980) and The Bourne Supremacy (1986). His novels centered around conspiracy plots and the world of technology and espionage.

Due to the wide range of subjects and environments available to thriller fiction there are many sub genres. Thrillers involve the world and professions of law, espionage, medicine, science, international and domestic politics, technology, finance and adventure. Popular contemporary thriller writers include John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Robin Cook, Michael Palmer, Tom Clancy, and David Baldacci. Many of these authors’ works have been adapted to film which emphasize the use of action and suspense presented in the novels. Thriller fiction borrows certain elements from the genre of mystery, however, it doesn’t center around the solution of a crime or puzzle. Instead, it is a story of action that is filled with excitement, suspense, and danger.

Non-fiction Narratives


Put simply, non-fiction is the opposite of fiction. It addresses the people, things, places, and events in the real world as opposed to the imaginary world of fiction. Non-fiction is based on fact and serves to provide information about a subject. However, it is not completely factual and should not be taken as absolute truth.

The interpretation and analysis of facts is determined by the author and as a result is not completely devoid of the author’s bias and opinions. Therefore, it is important to remember to keep a critical mind when reading non-fiction.

Non-fiction is varied and wide in scope. Sub genres include autobiography, biography, diaries, journals, essays, memoirs, articles, letters, interviews, books, encyclopedias, reference books, and documentaries. Because it is based on reality it must have facts, data, and research to prove its validity. There are generally two basic approaches to writing non-fiction. The first is to report facts with little or no personal opinions and the second is to mix personal opinion with fact. Although it is about reality, writers of the genre borrow literary techniques used in fiction in order to make their stories more interesting.
These literary techniques include tone, characterization, descriptive language, pace, and scene setting. This type of colorful sub genre is referred to as creative or literary non-fiction.

The non-fiction arena is growing due to the popularity of recent trends. Popular genres include political, disaster, and current events themed books and memoirs. Recent events such as the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and the World Trade Center attacks have resulted in the popularity of factual books written by political experts and investigative journalists such as An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks, and Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission by Thomas H. Kean. Recent controversies over the degree of veracity and artistic license in memoirs such as James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces have only increased popularity of the genre.

Non-fiction will always be popular because people will always seek answers to questions. It exists to answers those questions or at least to provide information so people are able to formulate their own answers. The popularity of the Internet has made it possible for people to publish their own non-fiction in the form of blogs, online journals, and informational websites. In a world filled with so many portals and links to information, it is important to keep an open and critical mind before accepting any factual claims as truth.

Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is a literary genre in which history is brought to life. The story must portray characters, events, settings, customs, culture, society, and beliefs accurately according to its historical context. Considerable research is taken in order to portray characters and settings realistically. However, good storytelling should not be sacrificed for perfect historical accuracy.

Facts should be skillfully woven into the story in order to evoke the past and keep the story entertaining.

Historical fiction contains the same elements required in regular fiction. However, it places more emphasis on the time period in which the story is set. Writers of historical fiction may choose to either center their story on past historical events or around a famous historical person. The main objective is to recreate the historical period of the novel so it is both accurate and entertaining to the readers. The genre is mainly read by those who want to experience and learn about history in a more creative way then they would experience by reading a text book. Historical fiction can also serve to provide insight to current events by using historical events to draw parallels to current society and events.

Historical fiction emerged in the 19th Century during the Romantic period. Sir Walter Scott is generally considered to be the first writer of the genre. In his novels Rob Roy (1818) and Ivanhoe (1820), Scott brings Scottish history during the Middle Ages alive. Victor Hugo is also credited with popularizing the genre with his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831). Since then, historical fiction has merged with other genres to create several sub genres including novels set in the Middle Ages, American Western, Prehistoric period, Renaissance, Ancient Rome, and other historical periods. Some authors have experimented with the genre and created further sub genres including alternate histories, pseudo-histories, time slip novels, historical fantasies, and multiple time period novels. Philip Roth’s novel The Plot Against America (2005) is an example of alternate history in which Roth depicts a scenario in which Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt for the American presidency in 1940. Michael Cunningham’s novel, The Hours (1998), is an example of historical multiple-time fiction in which he writes a novel set within three different time periods involving the author Virginia Woolf.

Historical fiction has transcended into different medias including both film and television. Popular historical television series include Deadwood set within 19th Century American West and Rome set during the fall of the Roman Republic. Historical films based on historical individuals and events are also very popular. Charles Frazier’s novel, Cold Mountain (1998), which revolves around the Civil War, was recently adapted to film. Historical fiction is as popular as ever as people continue to be curious about the past.

Satirical Fiction

Satire is a type of literary genre which uses ridicule to criticize people, institutions, and society with the intent to provoke change or reform. It uses the literary techniques of comparison, ridicule, wit, irony, and exaggeration to point out human vices or follies. The purpose is to point out the hypocrisy and the foolishness of the subject’s action or behavior by using laughter as a weapon. The goal is to have the audience or target of ridicule recognize their mistakes through laughter and be compelled to change their behavior.

Generally, there are two main types of satire. The first type is formal or direct satire which uses the satiric voice in the first person to speak directly to the reader or character in the story. Formal satire can be further divided into two subtypes. Horatian satire is named after the Roman poet, Horace, and is a gentle, softer form that aims to correct through sympathetic laughter. The second type is Juvenalian satire named after the Roman poet, Juvenal. This type is edgy, bitter, and contemptuous in nature. The second main type is called indirect satire which expresses satire through character or groups who ridicule themselves through their own actions and words.

Satire can be traced back to the early Greek poets and dramatists. One of the most famous satirists was the playwright Aristophanes who wrote the play Lysistrata (411 BC). However, the prototype of the literary form of the genre comes from the works of Roman poets, Horace and Juvenal. Their two different forms were continued through the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

The golden age of satire arrived in the early 18th Century. Notable works include Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) and Alexander Voltaire’s Candide (1759). Voltaire’s novel targeted the philosophy of Gottfried Leibniz in which everything that happens is for the best. The genre took aim at manners and morals in the 19th Century in the works of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Twain used his novel to satirize the evils of slavery and racism as well as American Southern society. Other popular satirical targets of the period include policies in government, law, philosophy, and religion particular to the time period.

Major advances in technology, political discontent, abuses of power, and wars that marked the 20th Century became the targets for modern satirists. Famous works from this period include Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1949).

Today, satire has transcended many different mediums including film, television, plays, comic strips, and political cartoons. The genre is very widespread in shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Simpsons, South Park, and The Colbert Report. Present day artists and writers view satire as an effective way to reveal the follies and mistakes of a wide range of targets from political policy to members of the government to popular culture.

Mystery Novels

Mystery is a literary genre that centers around the solving of a puzzle. The puzzle is usually a question or riddle to be answered or a crime to be solved. The protagonist, along with the reader, is provided clues to the puzzle, but must also use the tools of deduction, logic, observation, and sheer luck in order to completely solve the puzzle.

Mystery fiction is very popular due to the excitement and sense of challenge aroused in the reader to solve the mystery.

A story must contain certain elements in order to be categorized as a mystery fiction. The story usually revolves around a crime. Most novels are about trying to solve a murder, but the crime isn’t always murder. The crime must function as a means to provide the question of whodunit . Detectives are also an essential element and are the main characters . The detective usually works alone, with a sidekick, or with a group of sidekicks. The detective must then conduct an investigation by searching for clues and interviewing suspects in order to solve the crime. The story usually ends when the culprit has been identified and the crime has been solved.

The origins of mystery fiction can be traced back to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murder in Rue Morge written in 1841. This story featured the first fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin. Poe was greatly influenced by Charles Dickens’ Bleak House (1853) and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). Dickens’ work contained many elements of mystery, however, it was Poe who shifted the focus of mystery from atmosphere to a study of the criminal mind. Wilkie Collins continued Poe’s device of the detective, but added more emphasis on characterization. Collins wrote the first full length mystery novels such as The Woman in White (1868) and The Moonstone (1868). Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the next major writer of the genre to emerge with his story A Study in Scarlet (1887). This story was the first to feature the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. Through his character, Doyle turned the solving of crimes into a science. Sherlock Holmes solved crimes by careful study and interpretation of evidence as well as his own powers of perceptive recognition.

The 1920’s is referred to as the golden age of mystery fiction. This period ushered in the work of some of the most famous writers of the genre such as Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett. Agatha Christie created the “Cozy” with her novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920). A Cozy is a mystery in which a crime is committed in an English country house involving a closed group of people. They all become suspects in a clean murder that is solved by a great detective. Dashiell Hammett further revolutionized the mystery genre by creating the “Hardboiled.” This type of mystery focused more on realism and life on the streets. Hammett’s novel, The Maltese Falcon (1930), introduced the character of Sam Spade and popularized the tough private eye.

The popularity of mystery fiction has created many sub genres including thriller, suspense, and true crime. It has also transcended other media such as television and film. Television shows such as CSI, Monk, and Law and Order follow the framework of mystery fiction New writers of the genre include Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, James Patterson, J.D. Robb, Dan Brown, Mary Higgins Clark, Tom Clancy, and Patricia Cornwell. Their works are very diverse and wide in scope. As the popularity of the genre continues to grow it will continue to branch out and adapt to new innovations. The future of mystery fiction remains open and as exciting as ever.