Author: Ellesse Imongirie
Every piece of composition whether it be music or literature can be categorized to a specific genre, in some instances it could be a mix of more than one.Genres are classified based on the characteristics of form, style or subject matter. Defining what a genre is is not absolute, sometimes the definition genre is skewed and often based on the rhetoric of the author. Most times a piece of writing may be linked to more than one genre l or may not follow the ‘rules’ of one genre in particular. It is better to think of genre as a guide or a starting point because no two texts are the same.Knowing about genres and how it functions helps us to write and communicate accordingly to our targeted audience. People’s scope of what a genre is limited, not everyone is taught about all the types of genre and it is not required that you know it all to write but understanding the basic elements and what it entails can make you a great writer.
When discovering genres it is easy to spot the differences based on the elements,the form of writing will always vary. Poetry is a genre that has a specific form that only applies to it. A Poem is structured based on line lengths, meters, stanzas and rhyme scheme. Poetry forms are also defined in various categories such as haikus, sonnets , epigrams and so on. The line length of a poem impacts how readers interpret the poem. A great poet takes care and pays special attention to the type of stanza and line lengths in their poems to invoke certain emotions from the readers. Another important aspect in the formation of poetry is the rhyme scheme. It is not necessary for a poem to rhyme, in fact most modern poems do not rhyme but when rhyming there is a particular structure one has to follow. If every word at the end of each line rhymes the rhyme scheme is categorized as AAAA. If every other line rhymed it would then be categorized as ABAB. Another scenario is the first and fourth line rhyming and then the second and third line then it will be categorized as ABBA. Meters in poetry refers to the way certain words are emphasized. Meters influence the poet’s word choice and can completely affect the dynamic of the poem. While Poetry puts a lot of emphasis on form, not all genres go through such extents.
Despite genres having its own structures the author’s rhetoric will always come first. Genre can be classified by the intention of the author and what message they want to communicate. Specifically hundreds of genres exist but they can all be classified in 4 main categories: Poetry, Fiction, Non fiction and Drama. Within those 4 main categories are hundreds of sub categories, most are cross-genre , meaning a mix of 2 or more genres. In his essay “Navigating Genres” Kerry Dirk states ‘In other words, knowing what a genre is used for can help people to accomplish goals, whether that goal be getting a job by knowing how to write a stellar resume, winning a person’s heart by writing a romantic love letter, or getting into college by writing an effective personal statement.’ Understanding differences between genres allows you to appropriately pick one for your rhetoric. Sometimes a genre can be seen as restrictive, Dirk talks about free writing and going outside the bounds of a genre, I believe this is how sub genres are formed. For example, hypothetically I am an author wanting to write a book about a couple who falls in love while on vacation at a resort which just so happens to be haunted and guests mysteriously disappear and turn up dead. What genre can I classify my book ? Romance , horror,or mystery? As an author who understands genre it would be easy for me to write this novel. I would know the form, and tone needed to hit all the key points in each possible genre. My novel would have to have soft and tender words to fulfill the romance, spooky abnormal incidents to fulfill the horror and suspense to fulfill the mystery. Combining all three genres leads to a unique composition and a wider range audience. Now my novel is of interest to people who like either romance, horror or mystery. Breaking away from a genre’s convention can yield multiple benefits but it is also important to keep within certain boundaries. The most important rule to abide by is tone and structure like Dir wrote ‘…imagine the chaos that would ensue if news broadcasts were done in raps, if all legal briefs were written in couplets, or if your teacher
handed you a syllabus and told you that it must first be decoded.’ The manner in which you approach and discourse to your audience ensures that you receive the appropriate response.
Navigating through genres is also of importance not only to authors but also to readers. As an avid reader I am very particular about the books I read. When looking for a book I pick based on the description and first chapter. First and foremost the most appealing thing about a book is its tone. I am more interested in books that give the full story from multiple points of view. I like books that are lengthy with suspense and mystery. Referring to the previous hypothetical situation, books that relate to multiple genres are what I am likely to read. In bookstores books are only categorized under one genre.to find what I want, the first chapter of a book is the best lead. The first chapter is a lead into the promises of a book, it highlights the tone, form , plot and characters. Aside from cross genre this method works when picking a book with one particular genre. A book with one sole genre can be put through this trial to test the writer’s integrity. Is the writer’s understanding of genre strict and narrow or were certain leeways taken to expand the intensity and discourse of the book.
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