8th Grade English: Ms. Rauschenberg

Literature Terms: Genre

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Genre Fiction Nonfiction Poetry Drama


A type or category of literature is called a genre. There are four main literary genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.

  • Fiction: writing that comes from the author's imagination (not true)
  • Nonfiction: writing about real people, places, and events
  • Drama: writing that is intended to be performed
  • Poetry: a compact form writing that is often highly figurative and often has particular sound effects such as rhyme or rhythm

The four main genres are not always completely separate. For example, a drama may be either fiction or non-fiction. A poem may tell a fictional story.

Within each of the main genres, there are subgenres. For example, within fiction there are genres like historical fiction, romance, science fiction, westerns, etc. Within nonfiction there are biographies, autobiographies, self-help books, manuals, etc.

Drama: literature that is intended to be performed for an audience, either on stage or in front of a camera

Elements of Drama

Like fiction, drama usually tells a story and thus has

  • setting
  • characters
  • plot (and conflict)
  • and theme

Unlike fiction, since drama is meant to be performed, it is written in a special form called a script, in which lines are written out for the characters to speak.

Parts of a script

  1. Cast of characters: a list of the characters, usually shown in the order they appear. The list may or may not have brief descriptions of the characters.

  2. Stage directions: instructions (often shown in italics) for the actors, director, and crew (camera, lights, props, etc.)

  3. Dialogue: the lines and conversations for the actors

Much like books are divided into chapters, scripts are divided into acts and scenes. Long dramas are usually divided into two or three acts. During a performance, there is generally an intermission between acts. Each act is divided into scenes. A new scene begins whenever the setting changes (time, place, or both).

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