Sunnyvale Public Library

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Literary Genres

Categories of literary composition.

Autobiography

Gives the history of a person's life, written or told by that person.  Often written in narrative form of that person's life.

Biography

A written account of another person's life.

Drama

Stories composed in verse or prose, usually for theatrical performance, where conflicts and emotion as expressed through dialogue and action.

Essay 

A short literary composition that reflects the author's outlook or point of view.

Fable

A narration demonstrating a useful truth, especially in which animals speak as humans; legendary, supernatural tales.

Fairy Tale

Stories about fairies or other magical creatures, usually for children.

Fantasy

Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters, fiction which invites suspension of reality.

Fiction

Narrative literary works whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.

Fiction in Verse

Full-length novels with plot, subplots, themes, with major and minor characters, in which the narrative is presented in blank verse form.

Folklore/Folktale

A story that was originally told rather that written.

Historical Fiction

Story with fictional characters and events in a historical setting.

Horror

Fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread in both the characters and the reader.

Humor

Fiction full of fun, fancy and excitement, meant to entertain.

Informational Books

Factual writing that informs a reader about a topic.

Legend

Story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, which has a basis in fact but also includes imaginative material.

Mystery

Fiction dealing with the solution of a crime, the unraveling of secrets or which remains unexplained and/or unknown.

Mythology

Legend or traditional narrative , often based in part on historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural phenomena by its symbolism; often pertaining to the actions of the gods.

Narrative Nonfiction

Factual information presented in a format which tells a story.

Nonfiction

Informational text dealing with an actual, real life subject.

Poetry

Verse and rhythmic writing that evokes an emotional response form the reader.

Realistic Fiction

Story that can actually happen and is true to life.

Science Fiction

Story based on impact of actual, imagined or potential science, usually set in the future or on other planets.

Short Story

Fiction of such briefness that it is not able to support any subplots.

Speech

Public address or discourse.

Tall Tale

Humorous story with blatant exaggerations, swaggering heroes who do the impossible with nonchalance.