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Course Study Material

Writing Basics

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  • Poetry has a definite goal: that is:

    To convey emotion or imagery.

    Rationale: Poetry is best defined as literary work in which special consideration is given to the expression of emotions, ideas, and imagery by the use of distinctive style and rhythm.

  • Prose can be found anywhere: talking with friends, in books and magazines, and on public transportation, such as:

    On the train.

    Rationale: Prose is simply ordinary written or spoken language, without the rhythm or metrical structure one might find in poetry. Some contemporary poetry is written in prose form, which can blur the definitions of the two and become somewhat confusing, but usually this distinction is a good rule to live by.

  • There is an average word count for short stories. That count is:

    1,000 - 7,500 words

    Rationale: An average short story is between 1,000 - 7,500 words. Magazines usually won’t be able to feature stories longer than this.

  • There are many literary genres. A literary genre is:

    A category of literature.

    Rationale: A literary genre is a category of composition, or writing, which can be based on content, technique, length, or tone. Each genre may also have subcategories, and those subcategories may be divided into more genres still.

  • Another literary genre, a NOVELETTE, is longer than the genre of short stories. A novelette contains:

    7,500 - 20,000 words

    Rationale: Typically, a novelette is between 7,500 - 20,000 words in length. This length is not seen as often as a short story or novel, but can often be found in compilations.

  • The following is an example of fiction:

    A story about being a time traveler going back in time.

    Rationale: Fiction is prose that describes imaginary people, events, and places and is not based purely on fact.

  • A third literary genre is the NOVELLA. A novella contains:

    20,000 - 50,000 words

    Rationale: A novella is usually between 20,000 - 50,000 words. You do not see this length as often in print, but it is more common in the electronic publishing market. Also, it is used more in writing nonfiction than in fiction.

  • Nonfiction, by its name, is self explanatory. Nonfiction can be:

    A famous person’s autobiography.

    Rationale: Nonfiction is prose that is based on facts about real people, events, and places. Memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, and historical accounts are examples of nonfiction writing.

  • A fourth literary genre is the NOVEL, comprised of:

    50,000 - 110,000 words

    Rationale: The preferred length for a novel is usually between 50,000-110,000 words, though this varies depending on the publisher in question.

  • Yet another literary genre is the EPIC, which contains:

    Over 110,000 words

    Rationale: A story is considered an epic when it extends over 110,000 words. Unless you are an established author with a secure fan base, a publisher may hesitate to print a book this long. In this case, one might consider converting the story into sequels. An important thing to note is that these word counts are loose guidelines, and preferences vary depending on the market and the publisher.

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