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'Dont I get a hug' most cringeworthy line

Creepy boys’ anthem

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Guide to Literary Terms


Forms of Literature:

Narrative: Involves writings of events, either fictional or nonfictional.

Novel: A long fictional story.

Novelette: Shorter than a novella. Sometimes considered the same as a novella.

Novella: Longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel.

Poem: Uses aesthetics and rhythm in writing.

Short Fiction:

  • Drabble: Exactly 100 words long.
  • Flash: Shorter than 1000 words.
  • Micro: Less than 300 words.
  • Six Word: Six words long.

Short Story: A brief story.




  • New Adult: Intended for readers aged 18-25.

Adventure: Often grouped with action, adventure is a genre that involves high risk and excitement. Indian Jones is an example.

Brit Lit: Literature associated with the UK.


  • Chapter Books: Children’s chapter books are right under middle grade books, but are shorter and may have illustrations (not just with a chapter title). The chapters are short to keep the attention of the reader. The audience is between 6 and 10-years-old.
  • Early Readers: These are similar to picture books, but the reading is simpler and the text is often large. The audience is between 4 and 8-years-old.
  • Picture Books: Picture books are heavily illustrated, but are not meant for children to read alone because while they can understand the words, they may not be able to read them. A parent, teacher, or other adult is intended to read picture books aloud. However, some books are aimed at adults (like Go the Fuck to Sleep)


  • Courtroom Drama: Takes place in a courtroom, usually centering on the lawyers.
  • Crime Mystery: Self-explanatory.
  • Gangster: Involves gangs, the mob, or the mafia. The Godfather is an example.

Fantasy (guide to writing fantasy and world building)

  • Alternate World: A setting that is not our world, but may be similar. This includes “portal fantasies” in which characters find an alternative world through their own. An example would be The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Arabian: Fantasy that is based on the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Arthurian: Set in Camelot.
  • Bangsian: Set in the afterlife or deals heavily with the afterlife. It most often deals with famous and historical people as characters. An example could be The Lovely Bones.
  • Celtic: Fantasy that is based on the Celtic people, most often the Irish.
  • Christian: This genre has Christian themes and elements.
  • Classical: Based on Roman and Greek myths.
  • Contemporary: This genre takes place in modern society in which paranormal and magical creatures live among us. An example would be the Harry Potter series.
  • Dark: This genre combines fantasy and horror elements. The tone or feel of dark fantasy is often gloomy, bleak, and gothic.
  • Epic: This genre is long and, as the name says, epic. Epic is similar to high fantasy, but has more importance, meaning, or depth. Epic fantasy is most often in a medieval setting.
  • Gaslamp: Also known as gaslight, this genre has a Victorian or Edwardian setting.
  • Gunpowder: Gunpowder crosses epic or high fantasy with “rifles and railroads”, but the technology remains realistic unlike the similar genre of steampunk.
  • Heroic: Centers on one or more heroes who start out as humble, unlikely heroes thrown into a plot that challenges them.
  • High: This is considered the “classic” fantasy genre. High fantasy contains the general fantasy elements and is set in a fictional world.
  • Historical: The setting in this genre is any time period within our world that has fantasy elements added.
  • Medieval: Set between ancient times and the industrial era. Often set in Europe and involves knights. (medieval references)
  • Mythic: Fantasy involving or based on myths, folklore, and fairy tales.
  • Quest: As the name suggests, the protagonist in this genre sets out on a quest. The protagonist most frequently searches for an object of importance and returns home with it.
  • Sword and Sorcery: Pseudomedieval settings in which the characters use swords and engage in action-packed plots. Magic is also an element, as is romance.
  • Urban: Has a modern or urban setting in which magic and paranormal creatures exist, often in secret.
  • Wuxia: A genre in which the protagonist learns a martial art and follows a code. This genre is popular in Chinese speaking areas.
  • Alternate Universe: Answers the “what if” question in regards to historical events and how they affected the future.
  • Period Piece: The most common of historical novels takes place in the past, most often a well-known period in time.
  • Slave Narrative: Inspired by the true stories written by former slaves, this genre involves the fictional story of a former slave.
  • Aliens: Also a sub-genre of sci-fi, this genre involves aliens being the central horror of the story. Signs is an example.
  • Creepy Children: In which children creepy and/or mysterious.
  • Gothic: Has a dark tone. Edgar Allen Poe wrote gothic.
  • Haunting: Involves hauntings of some sort.
  • Noir: The characters in this genre are mysterious, gritty, and cynical as is the setting.
  • Paranormal: Involves paranormal or supernatural elements, such as vampires.
Literary Fiction: Fictional works that do not fit in a specific category and that hold literary merit.

Middle Grade

  • Lower Middle Grade: Similar to chapter books, but may be more advanced. Intended for children seven to nine-years-old.
  • Middle Grade: Intended for children eight to twelve-years-old.
  • Upper Middle Grade: The bridge between middle grade and young adult. Intended for children ten to fourteen-years-old.
  • Amateur Investigator: In which the protagonist is not associated with the law or authority.
  • Cozy: Set in a small town with an amateur female investigator.
  • Hard-boiled: Often involve a private investigator who is a male anti-hero as the protagonist. The setting is most often urban and the content violent or dark.
  • Police Procedural: Inovles those associated with the law solving crimes and murders.


  • Dystopian: The setting is scary or hostile, often with a powerful government.
  • Utopian: The opposite of dystopian.
  • Clockpunk: Similar to steampunk in technology and fashion, but focuses more on clockwork and gears in designs.
  • Cyberpunk: Has advanced technology and often focuses on artificial intelligence and the cyber world. The setting is often near-future rather than far-future. Blade Runner is an example.
  • Dieselpunk: Based on aesthetics and technology between World War I and World War II.
  • Splatterpunk: Extremely graphic and contains a lot of gore.
  • Steampunk: This genre gets its name from the heavy steam-powered technology involved. Aesthetics are based on the Victorian and industrial eras.
  • Western Steampunk: Similar to steampunk, but with Western (as in Wild West) aesthetics.


  • Americana: This genre takes place in Midwestern US towns, usually in small towns during the early 1900s.
  • Baby Love: This genre is defined by its characters: A single mother with a male love interest.
  • Contemporary: Set in present day.
  • Erotic: Involves romance with a heavy focus on sexual activities.
  • Gay and Lesbian: Romance between non-heterosexual characters.
  • Historical: Romance set in the past, usually in a well-known period. 
  • Paranormal: Romance that takes place in a setting that involves the paranormal or supernatural. Twilight is an example.

Science Fiction

  • Apocalyptic: The setting of this genre is in an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic world where survivors endure the aftermath of the “end of the world”.
  • Astrobiology: This genre focuses on alien life more than science and technology.
  • Hard Sci-fi: Places an emphasis on the scientific details, accuracy, and plausibility.
  • Kaiju: A Japanese genre that involves a monster. Godzilla is an example.
  • Lost Worlds: The setting for this genre is a mysterious place, usually an island. Lost is an example of this.
  • Robot: Self-explanatory.
  • Soft Sci-fi: Based on soft sciences or has less of an emphasis on science.
  • Space Opera: This genre is defined by adventures in space. Star TrekStar Wars, and Firefly are all space operas.
  • Time Travel: Self-explanatory.
  • Western Sci-fi: Science fiction that incorporates western settings and culture. Firefly is an example.


  • Crime: Crime fiction, but with a thriller or suspense element.
  • Psychological: This genre has a slow build up and focuses on the emotional and psychological state of the characters throughout the story.
  • Slasher: Involves a killer, most often a serial killer.
  • Survivor: Focuses on one or more characters placed in a situation in which they struggle to survive.
  • Black Cowboy: Has a POC as the protagonist. Another name for this genre is Buffalo Soldier.
  • Bounty Hunter: Pretty much speaks for itself, but the characters are usually morally ambiguous.
  • Gunfighter: This is one of the classic westerns. It’s usually a force of good vs evil and involves a showdown at noon and a fight in a saloon (or something like that).
  • Outlaw: This focuses on the villains; the outlaws and bandits.
  • Wagon Train: Basically Oregon Trail.

Young Adult: This genre is intended for teenagers, but the age range will vary based on the topics and themes explored.

Non Fiction:

Autobiography: In which the author writes about his or her life.

Biography: In which the author writes about someone else’s life.

Memoir: A collection of events in one’s life.

Narrative: Similar to an autobiography, but written in the form of a story.


  • ARC: Stands for Adavnced Reading Copy. A copy of a book released to readers before the actual release date for review.
  • Literary Agent: Represents writers and their work, sends work to publishers and producers for consideration, and handles or assists contracts, sales, and negotiations.
  • Manuscript: The original text.
  • Pseudonym: A false name a person writes under. Pennames and Aliases
  • Query Letter: A formal letter sent to literary agents and publishers as a request to represent or publish a literary work. Query Letter References
  • Synopsis: A summary of a literary work. Can be short or long. Writing a Synopsis

More Literary Terms

Word Count Guidelines

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The success of the Disney Renaissance is due in large part to Howard Ashman, who did the lyrics for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and parts of Aladdin. He also had a male partner, and died of AIDS before Aladdin was completed. Not-straight people are a part of childhood, and history.

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