Genre- French for "types" or "classes." At one time it had a single meaning within literature, breaking down fiction, drama, and poetry. Around 1950, pople got really interested in labels, value judgements, and whose artistic preferences made them better human beings compared to their neighbors (since owning a car was no longer a way to tell), and the word started to refer to certain kinds art as real and certain kinds of story telling conventions as genre. It started with archetypal story modes (comedy, romance, tragedy, and satire) but went on to form the bedrock of the idea of genre fiction--a label applied to specific themes, archetypes, character types, plot lines, settings, and even writing conventions that can be used to classify specific types of literature.
In the music department, they got over the whole "rock-and-roll-isn't-real-music" thing and instead turned to a conversation about quality. But it's only been 70 years, and we're talking about English majors here. Give them time. These guys still have candlelight vigils that end in drunken brawls and puke-drowned corpses in the city's gutters over the fact that they eventually lost the preposition-at-the-end-of-a-sentence war.
Today the word "genre" rarely means poetry/fiction/drama unless you're signing up for a class at uni. Generally they refer to the different types of conventions in storytelling that form a sort of contract with the reader--Science Fiction, Romance, Western, Horror. In many ways they function similarly to grammar--providing a structure in which to derive meaning and with rules of various importance that can sometimes be broken for effect. The conventions which have emerged as most agreeable to academia and the literary world are those of literary fiction (hence its name). And this genre is touted as being "real" literature or "serious" literature. In fact, much like Americans don't think they have an accent or natives who aren't really able to identify their culture, some might think literary fiction is misclassified as a genre of its own and instead refers to "anything without genre." This is demonstrably untrue in both form and content.
Golden Age- Everything was always better back in the old days. People really miss wiping their asses with leaves, eating the same thing every day, and dying at forty. Literature is no exception, and almost every art and genre of art has a "golden age" when it was really awesome and so much awesomer than it is today. The Golden Age of detective fiction, the Golden Age of science fiction, the Golden Age of...well, you get the idea. There's even golden ages of comic books, Hollywood, Loony Tunes, and porn. Let me write that again. THERE IS A GOLDEN AGE OF LOONY TOONS. (I'll give you a second to get that. I mean really GET it, man.) I wouldn't get too hung up on the idea that you've missed out on the best life had to offer. Except maybe the porn. You are in SOME thing's golden age right this second, and I bet you don't feel any different or glow or catch bullets with your teeth or anything. So unless you're like me and you're deliberately trying to engineer the golden age of blistering hawt threesomes, you should probably just chillax.
Gothic- The word gothic means very different things depending on if you're talking about pop-culture, literature, or folks who kicked Rome's ass, so be careful. The term Gothic broadened its umbrella of meaning first through architecture--it came to mean any Germanic architecture and then any medieval architecture using those pointy arches and flying buttresses (which are most useful for making 12 year olds giggle). Many of the formative writings that took place in these type of buildings took on the label of Gothic literature or Gothic Romance--the later because they were almost the direct descendants of Romantic literature. What differentiated these Gothic stories from the Romance before was their mood. Secret doors, decaying castles, deep dungeons, and a lustful villain trying to make it with an innocent heroine characterize the gothic. These lustful villains are the progenitors of today's "nice guys" often seeing their efforts as a sort of "courtship"--kind of like like if Petruchio had had a dungeon and wolves. Phantom of the Opera is a quintessential novel of this type. In many cases the Gothic was the bridge between the romantic and modern rationalism as supernatural elements turned out to have natural explanations much like all the Phantom's tricks were explained (in the Leroux novel). While we could perhaps make an interesting case that Romantic fiction became the Detective Fiction genre as it transitioned through the Gothic literature, that's probably a bit much for a glossary.
In modern culture, besides people in black lipstick and fishnet sleeves who are starting to lean towards the shortened version of "goth," the term has come to indicate more of a stylistic atmosphere in a work. Victorian clothing, dark themes, personal horror, corruption, disturbed psychological explorations, and macabre events are all common elements of the gothic. Very often the themes of suppressed heroine appear again and again, and it is no coincidence that many of the best gothic authors have been women in very male-dominated cultures.
Though the combination of meanings could make for a good show: She's a rational-thinking German with high arches and a moth eaten wedding dress. He's nice guy who wears black lipstick, fishnet sleeves, and listens to Covenant and Skinny Puppy. THEY FIGHT CRIME!!!
Grammar- The structural rules that govern the construction of clauses, phrases, and even words in a given language that include morphology and syntax (and phonology with spoken language). Outside of linguistics this term tends to include semantics as well (with an absolutely charming proclivity to utterly ignore pragmatics, I might add). But if you aren't familiar with linguistics, you can use the word the way most people do:
THE RULES! Punctuation, spelling, parts of speech, clauses, phrases, tenses, when to use whom even if it makes you sound like a prat. That kind of crap. While language is almost identical to culture, and people learn it unconsciously from those around them and know the rules intuitively, there are also several parallel efforts to codify single sets of rules as correct. (In much the same way that there is an effort to codify a single culture as correct.) This is why grammar is sometimes used in its linguistic meaning and sometimes referred to as something called "high school grammar." There is an eternal struggle between those who are descriptive and prescriptive about grammar that I've written about at length.
Grok- Heinlein coined this phrase, so his sinister agents still scour the far corners earth waiting to be enraged on his behalf by heathens who dare to use the word "wrong," but I live life on the right on the edge, my friends, so let them come. LET THEM COME!!! (Except for milk past the expiration date--I don't fuck around with that shit.) I use the word as it tends to come up more in internet forums to be REALLY *GETTING* something. This is best understood by imagining someone who is really, really stoned saying it: "No man. It's not just getting something. It's like, really really GETTING it, man. Like...in your soul, man."
When I use this word--and believe me, each day I do several exercises in front of a mirror intended to expunge it from my personal lexicon--I tend to mean a level of comprehension that includes empathy. Not intellectually understanding something or familiarizing yourself with something so that you can beat it in an argument, but really understanding it at a level of compassion that most people will never achieve. Most of us never really leave our own shoes when we're "walking a mile in someone else's." We can't deal with the paradox of existing in another paradigm, so we evaluate it through the lens of our own. Writers really have to get over that. If we can't portray people with whom we disagree emphatically in all their humanity, we should hang up our pens. When I use Grok, I mean letting go of one's own paradigm to exist in another, and having that compassion.
|No man. That entry doesn't cover it.|
I mean...like REALLY getting it, man.
Creative Writing Terms Starting With H