Literary Contest - Category Descriptions
|category 1 mainstream |
fiction is often defined as non-genre fiction. As such, it is not
written to appeal to fans of a specific genre, or to satisfy subject
matter requirements of genre fiction.Literary
fiction may place strong emphasis on additional objectives: to provoke
debate and discussion, to provide a refuge of beauty, to inspire, to
provide insight. The intent of literary fiction is to create aesthetic
value and impact on the reader through craftsmanship that serves the
story and its meaning. Style, technique, characters, and layers of
meaning are as important as subject matter and plot.
examples of literary fiction see the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The protagonists in literary fiction may not resolve their conflicts, but explore and illuminate their unique humanity.
category 2 historical
fiction presents readers with a story that takes place during a notable
period in history, and usually during a significant event in that
period. Historical fiction often presents actual events from the point
of view of people living in that time period.In some historical fiction,
famous events appear from points of view not recorded in history,
showing historical figures dealing with actual events while depicting
them in a way that is not recorded in history. Other times, the
historical event complements a story's narrative, occurring in the
background while characters deal with events (personal or otherwise)
wholly unrelated to recorded history. Sometimes, the names of people and
places have been in some way altered. As this is fiction, artistic
license is permitted in regard to presentation and subject matter, so
long as it does not deviate in significant ways from established
history. If events should deviate significantly, the story may then fall
into the genre of alternate history, which is known for speculating on
what could have happened if a significant historical event had gone
differently. On a similar note, events occurring in historical fiction
must adhere to the laws of physics. Stories that extend into the magical
or fantastic are often considered a historical fantasy.
category 3 romance/women's fiction
fiction focuses on the relationship and romantic love between two
people. Romance readers expect an emotionally satisfying and optimistic
ending. Publishers designate romance novels as category or single title.
Category romance is usually shorter, and must adhere to publisher’s
guidelines regarding setting, time periods, level of sensuality and
types of conflict. Single titles are often longer (350-400 pages), and
are not constrained by specific publisher guidelines.
Fiction are novels that explore the lives of female protagonists,
focusing on all kinds of relationships, be it lovers, spouses, parents,
children, friends, or members of a community. The common thread is that
the central character is female, and the main thrust of the story is
something happening in the life of that woman (as opposed to the overall
theme being a romance or a mystery of some sort). Emotions and
relationships are the common thread between books that belong in this
category. A woman is the star of the story, and her emotional
development drives the plot. (Definition provided by author Rebecca Vnuk)
Subgenres may overlap, but the following are general categories in common use:
- Contemporary (set in current time)
- Historical (set in the past)
- Regency (set between 1811-20 or thereabouts)
- Futuristic/time travel (set in a future or past world; or the protagonists come from different time periods)
- Fantasy (includes elements of magic and fairies, dragons, elves, and so forth; often set in historical times)
- Paranormal (usually set in contemporary times, with characters who often have supernatural powers)
- Romantic Suspense (subplot includes mystery, with danger for the hero and heroine)
- Chick-Lit (hip, stylish, urban; marketed to young, single women in their 20’s)
- Inspirational (stories with a religious theme, no sex)
category 4 mystery/thriller
are any fiction in which a crime or a threat to the characters and the
solution to the problem are central to the story. Readers of the genre
expect the crime to be solved, and the perpetrator to suffer
consequences for his/her actions.
tend to be high energy mysteries involving major threats to the wider
society, such as bio-terrorism, government/national crises, nuclear
weaponry, kidnapping and assassination. Danger and suspense are
important factors, and the protagonist is usually working against time.
- Classic: emphasis on reasoning from clues provided by the author; examples include works by A. Conan Doyle and Ellery Queen.
mysteries: Usually involve a small, enclosed community, domestic
setting, and an amateur sleuth. Sex and violence are usually off-stage.
Examples include Agatha Christie (especially Miss Marple’s) and Mary
Intrigue: The focus is on national or international settings with spies
and politicians involved in the plot or as the protagonists. Example:
John Le Carre
- Ethnic: The ethnic background of the characters is an important factor in the mystery. Example: Tony Hillerman
- High-tech: Current or future technology is an important factor in the mystery. Example: Michael Crichton.
- Historical: set in the past. Example: Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, Anne Perry, the Pitt and Monk mysteries.
- Legal: involves courts, trials, and attorneys. Examples: John Grisham and Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason Mysteries).
- Medical: setting and plot involve medicine and forensics. Example: Robin Cook, Brain. Eileen Dreyer, Bad Medicine.
- Noir: Protagonist, atmosphere and outcome are marked by darkness of soul. Example: Dashiell Hammett
- Occult: includes metaphysical and psychic phenomena, and the unknown. Example: Mercedes Lackey, Burning Water.
Procedural: Story focuses on specific cases, the methods used by the
police to solve a case, and with the police themselves as major
characters. Example: Reginald Hill, Ruling Passions
Eye mysteries: The central character is either a private, or
professional, or amateur detective. Example: Robert B. Parker’s Spenser
mysteries; Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski mysteries; Mary Stewart
(This Rough Magic, My Brother Michael).
category 5 science fiction/fantasy/paranormal
Fiction is visionary writing about science and technology to create
future scenarios. Authors attempt to create an internally consistent set
of physical laws that extrapolate from known science. Main characters
are often scientists, engineers, computer programmers, military
personnel or astronauts.
is fiction in which the action and characters are not bound by the
physics or realities of the known world. They may be set in wholly or
partially non-existent worlds, such as under the earth or a fairyland or
in a mythological setting. Characters may be human, part human, or
non-human, and may have extraordinary powers or the ability to work
fantasy is a subset of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative
has an urban setting. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary
times or contain supernatural elements. However, this is not the primary
definition of urban fantasy. Urban fantasy can be set in historical
times, modern times, or futuristic times. The prerequisite is that it
must be set in a city, primarily rather than in a suburban or country
setting, which have their own genre subsets.
encompasses elements of the paranormal, such as ghosts, vampires,
werewolves, shapeshifters, and any sort of magical or otherworldly
creatures. This type of fiction often goes beyond fact and logical
explanations to speculate about the things that cannot be seen or
proved, such as extrasensory perception (ESP) and alien life.
- Hard Science Fiction: For examples of hard sci-fi authors, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/hard_science_fiction.
Opera: science fiction that emphasizes romantic adventure, exotic
settings, and larger than life characters. Examples: Star Wars, Firefly,
works by Alexi Panshin or Roger Zelazny.
Science Fiction: Interstellar or interplanetary conflict and its armed
solution make up the main backdrop of the story. Examples: Battlestar
Galactica; the Man-Kzin wars series.
Fantasy: Fantasy that includes mythic elements such as the battle
between good and evil and the hero’s journey. Examples: Tolkien’s Lord
of the Rings, works by Ursula LeGuin and Anne Bishop.
History: The story depends on a drastic change within a historical
context; the story then develops an imagined world in which the standard
history is altered because of a cataclysmic event. Example: Eric Flint,
1634; Harry Turtledove’s American Empire trilogy.
category 6 young adult (ages 12-18)
Adult books are written for ages twelve and up. Length of completed
manuscripts varies widely. Young Adult novels include all categories of
literary and genre fiction. Themes are relevant to the problems and
struggles of today's teenagers, regardless of the genre. Common themes
include peer relationships and coming of age, including the difficulties
of dealing with the chaos, complexity and injustice of the world that
young adults inherit from adults. The protagonists, usually young
adults, often gain maturity through challenges that result in new
knowledge and clearer understanding of others. Settings are often urban
and contemporary, but range from historical to science fiction and
category 7 middle grade (ages 8-12)
Grade Novels are primarily defined by what they are not: they are not
picture books, early chapter books, or young adult novels. Middle grade
is for kids who have mastered reading well enough to leave picture and
early chapter books behind, approximately ages 8 to 12 (typically with a
protagonist at the higher end of this age range). Middle grade readers
are learning about who they are, what they think, and where they fit in;
the book’s subject matter should reflect this. The themes often involve
school situations, friendships, and relationships with peers and
siblings. The chapters are shorter and the pace is quicker than in a YA
category 8 nonfiction/memoir
books and memoirs are distinguished by their factual content.
Nonfiction books are written for audiences with specific interests and
often include a table of contents, index, references, and bibliography.
Writing style may be narrative or expository. Topics include subjects
such as how-to's, history, cookbooks, biography, autobiography, science,
and the humanities.
is book length narrative nonfiction that describes the personal life
history of the writer in such a way that the reader, among many possible
reactions, may be inspired, delighted, informed, or encouraged through
empathy and recognition of universal elements of a life’s journey.
category 9 poetry
is distinguished by its vivid imagery and visceral impact. It can be
any length. Prose rarely if ever emphasizes meter and rhyme, whereas
meter and rhyme are intrinsic to some kinds of poetry. Some poetic
forms, such as sonnets and haiku, are identified by their formal
structure. Others, such as the poetry written by e.e. Cummings, are
structured wholly by the inspiration of the poet.
category 10 short story
category includes short stories that deal with adult themes and
situations that intrigue, provide, and inspire. Often a short story will
focus on a specific mood and setting through concise word choice and an
intense, brief, emotional arc. Conflict, climax, and resolution are
developed within the confines of the succinct fictional encounter.
Examples of short story authors include, Edgar Allen Poe, Grace Paley,
Dorothy Parker, Sue Hubbell, and Philip Dick.
category 11 children's picture/chapter book
BOOKS: Any book that pairs a narrative format with pictures can be
categorized as a picture book. Picture books are most often aimed at
young children, and while some may have very basic language especially
designed to help children develop their reading skills, most are written
with vocabulary a child can understand but not necessarily read. For
this reason, picture books tend to have two functions in the lives of
children: they are first read to young children by adults, and then
children read them themselves once they begin learning to read.
BOOKS: A story book intended for intermediate readers, generally age
7-10. Unlike picture books for beginning readers, a chapter book tells
the story primarily through prose, rather than pictures. Unlike books
for advanced readers, chapter books contain plentiful illustrations. The
name refers to the fact that the stories are usually divided into short
chapters, which provide readers with opportunities to stop and resume
reading if their attention spans are not long enough to finish the book
in one sitting. Chapter books are usually works of fiction of moderate
length and complexity.
category 12 adult short topics (articles/essays/memoir)
category includes nonfiction articles, personal essays, narrative
nonfiction essays, and short memoir pieces. Each piece must be complete,
self-contained, and a maximum of 14 pages (see contest rules).