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Literary Subgenres

Last week, we explored the Horror story skeleton.  This week, we take a look a subgenres of the literary skeleton.

I realize the term "literary" fiction is usually construed as "literature," and there are massive discussions about what constitutes literature. In my series, I consider literary stories a slower, more character focused form of fiction. I make no attempt to define literature. The distinction from other genre fiction is that there is a lyrical quality. The pace can be slow. There can be lingering, poignant closeups with your verbal camera. The focus is on the interiority of the character far more than the action.

I have come up with a list of several broad categories.


1. Activist/Cause Literary stories examine the ramification of a social topic, politics, religion, and man's inhumanity to man.

2. Coming of Age Literary stories examine an adolescent facing adulthood.

3. Crime Literary stories examine the impact and fallout from a crime for the victim, victim's family, or the perpetrator, or his family.

4. Disease/Death Literary stories examine the effects of a serious illness or the impact of a death.

5. Friendship Literary stories examine the building, maintenance, or unraveling of a friendship.

6. Historical Literary stories examine the impact of a pivotal point in history on an individual, a family, or population. The focus is not so much on the gritty details of the historical event, rather how the times impacted specific people.

7. Legal Literary stories examine how upholding or contesting the law impacts a person or group of people.

8. Malfeasance Literary stories examine how a corporation or group has damaged people and how they are exposed.

9. Multi-Generation Family sagas examine the lives of two or more generations in a family.

10. Relationship Literary stories examine the building, maintenance, or unraveling of any relationship: rivals, family, groups, or friendships.

11. Romantic Literary stories examine the building, maintenance, or unraveling of a romantic relationship.

12. Revelation Literary stories examine the impact of the revelation of a secret or a universal truth.

13. Situational Literary stories peel back the layers of a problem to reveal the cause.

14. War Literary stories explore the causes, outcomes, and cost of war.

Next week, we take a look at the building blocks that constitute a literary skeleton.


Check out the newly released addition to the Story Building Blocks series: Literary Build A Plot Workbook available in print and e-book.

For more about how to craft plots using conflict check out, Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of conflict available in print and e-book and explore the free tools and information about the series on my website.

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