f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 3 of a Taxonomy of Writing – Class

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

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Day 3 of a Taxonomy of Writing – Class

So if we were to classify my first novel Ezekiel’s Shadow according to our ongoing taxonomic system this is what we’d have so far.

Kingdom: Prose
Phylum: Fiction
Class: ?

The most logical progression is to form, i.e., the three biggies of novel, short story, and novella. To these I would add flash fiction (or micro fiction) and what we’ll have to call either the fragmented novel or the linked story collection. And since I’m picking, we’ll go with linked story collection.

How should we define these? The worst way seems to be by hard word count, and yet that’s pretty much what we’re left with. Here are my breaks. These are not “official” and you’ll see there’s some overlap. (Here’s a random site with their own distinctions.)

Flash Fiction – Fiction under 750 words
Short Story – 500 words to 100 pages.
Novella – 85 pages – 175 pages.
Novel – 150 pages and up.

The oddball here is the linked story collection. For this, I’m referring to specifically to a form of writing that doesn’t simply collect unrelated stories in a single volume, but is itself tied together through the path of the stories. For those more familiar with music terms, this is your rock opera. The Who’s Tommy, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars or, more recently, Green Day’s American Idiot.

Some literary examples are James Joyce’s Dubliners, Julian Barnes’ A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters, Jim Crace’s Devil’s Larder, and You’re an Animal Viskovitz by Alessandro Boffa. I know Barnes in particular gets annoyed when people call his work anything but a novel, but to me they are particularly different reading experiences.

Am I missing any forms? Let me know.
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Continue to Day 3 of Writing Taxonomy.