Genre and Form

In class we discussed the different ways that genre can be defined. Most definitions included some sort of organizational system that split books, movies, music, and other creative works into categories. I find it hard to disagree with the fact that genre does, in fact, in some way or another, allow for creative works to be split into groups.

I think of form and genre in the way a math teacher explains rectangles and squares. All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. By this I mean that all genres have a type of form to them, but not all forms can be made into a genre. I look at genre as a general term for the types of categories we divide things into. Let’s look at different types of writing¬†as an example, seeing as this post is for a Writing blog. In class we talked about how fiction is a genre, and among fiction there are subgenres, “lesser genres” as we discussed, including Science Fiction, Young Adult, Crime, Mystery, Horror, etc. These are all examples of genres based on the content of a story. Most book stores are organized like this with a section for nonfiction, cook books, biographies and autobiographies, children’s books, and many more. Then you take a look at what I’m doing right now: writing a blog post. I consider this to be another type of genre. In this section we have essays, blog posts, articles, editorials, research papers, and other, seemingly shorter, types of writing. In this case the genres are split by the form of the type of writing. A play, for instance, would be in the form of dialogue and actions scenes. An essay will often start off as an outline before developing into literary form. That’s not to say you can’t go back and take all of the novels in the Young Adult section of Barnes and Noble and start to split them up by form, creating a way too specifically organized book shelf. Although I’m not sure why anyone would ever do that.

In essence, genre is how we split creative works up into categories. It’s a sorting mechanism that we use because it makes things easy to find and easy to talk about, creating genres makes things easy. Form, on the other hand, is a type of a genre. It is a potential way that we could split up creative works if what we desire is based on how something is created rather than the content of what a reader would be delving into. So while most things have a genre, and everything has form, I think the difference is how we choose to categorize these pieces of writing.

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