f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 1 of a Taxonomy of Writing – Kingdoms

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Monday, February 07, 2005

Day 1 of a Taxonomy of Writing – Kingdoms

As you know, this blog often veers into areas that appear to have nothing to do with writing. We’ve done mathematics before and today we’re going to steal from the realm of biology. Actually we’re not stealing from biology per se merely the taxonomical classification system developed by Carl Linnaeus in order to get a handle on the nearly infinite variety of living creatures in this world.

The reason I’d like to do this is because I think the current classification system for writing is archaic and generally unhelpful. We end up talking around in circles because our terms of definition aren’t specific enough. Genre is the one true classifying trait being used and all that seems to do is alienate people.

So today we look at the top most level of the taxonomical chart: Kingdoms. In biology, the kingdoms are Plantae, Animalia, Fungi, etc.

In writing, I suggest there are three Kingdoms.

Poetry
– Your sonnets. Your haiku. Your free verse. Your song lyrics. This is writing that focuses on the individual power of words, stresses conveyance of emotion and personal aesthetic, rather than on narrative.

Scripts – Writing designed to underline another art-form be it a film, a stage production, a graphic novel or comic book.

Prose – Everything else. Nonfiction and fiction. Essay, novel, short story, etc. Generally unstructured, this writing focuses on communication of ideas and thoughts instead of pure emotion.

As you can imagine we’ll touch most deeply on prose as we work our way through the rest of the taxonomy. If you have suggested changes, feel free to make them. This isn’t in your high school text books yet so let’s get it right the first time.
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Go to Day 2 of Writing Taxonomy.