Some people have noted how the current selection of work types leave a lot to be desired. Being one of those people, I have been working on a proposal of a series of work types to use on BB.
Some preliminary notes:
- I’m not using any other list as a base, but trying to propose a series of basic and common work types that can be expanded in the future as needed.
- The point above also means this mostly focused on modern and Western literature. This is because that is the kind of works we mostly have already and the one about which there is more information. And exception the haiku, since is very well known to English speakers despite being.
- I tried to include all works types we already have in this logical list.
- I’m proposing that work types should be seen as categories and subcategories. This should allow the editor to choose an appropriate work type, even if the specific type doesn’t exist yet. For example, prefaces are being added as “introduction”, “article” or just being left blank, but if we had a more general category (introductory text), the editor could choose this category and request that a more specific subcategory be added.
- All work types should have clear definitions.
- More notes below.
Fiction — Literary work portraying individuals or events that are imaginary, though it may be based on a true story or situation.
short-form fiction — Prose narrative of limited complexity and length, too short to be considered a novel.
- Short story(*) — Prose narrative that is shorter than a novel or novella and that usually deals with only a few characters.
- Novella(*) — Prose narrative whose length is shorter and less complex than most novels, but longer and more complex than most short stories.
- Novel(*) — Prose narrative of considerable length and a certain complexity.
Play(*) — Work consisting mostly of dialogue and intended to be performed by actors.
- Stage play — Work in prose or verse consisting mostly of dialogue and intended to be performed by actors on a stage.
- Screenplay — Text that provides the basis for a film production. Besides the dialogue spoken by the characters, screenplays usually also include a shot-by-shot outline of the film’s action.
Comics alias manga, sequential art — Sequence of panels of images, usually including textual devices such as speech balloons, captions, and onomatopoeia to indicate dialogue, narration, and sound effects.
Comic strip — A series of comics panels designed in a narrative or chronological order.
- Yonkoma alias 4-koma — Comic strip consisting of four panels of the same size arranged vertically.
- Comics story — Multiple-page work consisting of comics panels, usually in chronological order, that tells a story. Comics stories are typically published in comic books, which can contain multiple stories.
- Graphic novel — Long-form, generally book-length, comics story.
- Comic strip — A series of comics panels designed in a narrative or chronological order.
- Picture book story — A story, generally for young children, with many pictures and a simple narrative. Books consisting of such stories are called picture books.
- short-form fiction — Prose narrative of limited complexity and length, too short to be considered a novel.
Nonfiction(*) — Prose work that is not fiction.
Introductory text — Text that precedes the main work and offers some sort of introduction to it.
- Introduction (*) — Preliminary explanation preceding the main work.
- Foreword — Preliminary text, generally written someone other than the author, introducing the work or the author.
- Preface — Introductory text, generally written by the author of the main work.
Conclusion — Text placed after the main work and offering a conclusion to the book.
- Afterword — Text placed after the main work providing enriching comment, such as how the book came into being or the work’s historical or cultural context .
- Postface — Brief article or explanatory information placed at the end of a book.
Letter — Written message addressed to a person or organization. This work type should be used for real (not fictional) letters only, epistolary novels are novels and should not be split into individual letters.
- Epistle — Letter, generally didactic and elegant in style, often addressed to a group of people.
- Essay — Piece of writing in which the author develops their own argument on some subject.
Speech — Address delivered to an audience (the written work being the text meant to read or the transcript of such as address).
- Sermon — A religious discourse delivered by a preacher, generally based on a text of scripture and as part of a worship service.
Scientific literature — Scholarly work containing firsthand reports of research, often reviewed by experts (primary literature), or synthesizing and condensing what is known on specific topics (secondary literature).
- Scientific paper(*) alias research paper, research article — Original full-length manuscript the results of scholarly research in scientific discipline.
Periodical article(?) — Article typically published in periodical publications, such as newspapers and magazines.
Opinion piece alias op-ed — Article expressing the author’s opinion about a subject.
- Editorial — Article, often unsigned, expressing the opinion of the editors or publishers.
- News article — Article relating current or recent news.
- Review — Critical evaluation of an artistic work, performance, or product.
- Interview — The reproduction of a series of questions posed by a member of the press and the answers given by the person being interviewed.
- Opinion piece alias op-ed — Article expressing the author’s opinion about a subject.
Biographical literature — Work describing a real person’s life.
Biography — Work describing a real person’s life in detail.
- Autobiography — Biography written by the subject themselves.
- Memoir — Autobiographical work distinguished from autobiography by its narrow focus, generally retelling only a specific part of a person’s life.
- Diary — A record of events in one’s life, consisting of daily autobiographical entries. Although there are exceptions, diaries are generally written as personal records with no intention of publication, but notable diaries are sometimes published.
- Biography — Work describing a real person’s life in detail.
Reference work — Informative work intended for consultation rather than consecutive reading.
- Dictionary — Lists lexemes and their meanings in the same or in a different language. A dictionary may also provide additional information about the lexemes, such as their pronunciation, grammatical forms and functions, etymologies, and variant spellings.
- Encyclopedia alias encyclopædia, encyclopaedia — Work providing extensive information on all branches of knowledge arranged into articles or entries.
- Thesaurus — Work that arranges works according to their meaning, or simply lists their synonyms.
- Legal instrument — A formal written legal document
- Recipe — A set of instructions for making a dish of prepared food. Recipes are generally preceded by the list of necessary ingredients
- Introductory text — Text that precedes the main work and offers some sort of introduction to it.
Poem(*) — A work of poetry; a non-prosaic composition that uses stylistic and rhythmic qualities of language to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, ostensible meaning. Poetry is very variable and particularly difficult to define; generally any work described as poetry should be considered of the poem work type.
- Epic(*) — Long narrative poem in which a heroic protagonist engages in an action of great mythic or historical significance.
Sonnet — A 14-line poem with a variable rhyme scheme originating in Italy, and originally consisting of two quatrains and two tercets. Traditionally, a volta occurs between the eighth and ninth lines (or before the final couplet in the Shakespearean sonnet).
- Petrarchan sonnet alias Italian sonnet — Original form of the sonnet with two quatrains and two tercets, which can be joined in an octave and a sextet.
- Shakespearean Sonnet alias English sonnet — English variant, with three quatrains followed by a final couple. The three quatrains can be joined into a stanza.
- Ballad — Short narrative poem in rhythmic verse suitable for singing, often in quatrains and rhyming the second and fourth lines.
- Blank verse — Poetic composition that does not rhyme but follows a regular meter. In English this is almost always iambic pentameter.
- Limerick — Poetic composition consisting of five lines of chiefly anapestic verse, the third and fourth lines of two metrical feet and in the others of three feet, rhyming aabba. Limericks are often humorous, nonsensical, and sometimes lewd.
Haiku — Originally, a traditional short Japanese poetic form with a 5-7-5 phoetic units pattern, now adapted in different ways in other languages.
- Japanese haiku — Traditional Japanese poetic form consisting of three phrases composed of seventeen on (phonetic units) in a 5-7-5 pattern which include a kireji (“cutting word”), and a kigo (seasonal reference).
- Non-Japanese haiku — Adaptation of the haiku form into other languages, sometimes the 5-7-5 on pattern is interpreted as three lines of five, seven and five syllables, although this is not required. Short, concise and impressionistic wording is generally seen as an essential feature, and other haiku characteristics may be ignored or adapted in different ways.
- Villanelle — Poetic composition consisting of nineteen lines: five tercets followed by a quatrain, with the first and third lines of the first stanza repeating alternately in the following stanzas, forming refrains, and as the final two lines of the final quatrain.
- (*) Work type already exists in BB.
- (?) Doubts exist about this work type, explained in the notes below.
- Wikipedia, online
- Encyclopædia Britannica, online
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online
- OED, Second edition on CD-ROM, 2009
- The Difference Between a Foreword, an Introduction, and a Preface, Jeevan Sivasubramaniam
- Understanding Science: Glossary, UC Museum of Paleontology
- Literature of Science, Cal Poly Humboldt
- Öchsner, A. (2013). Introduction to Scientific Publishing. SpringerBriefs in Applied Sciences and Technology. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-38646-6
- The Difference between Memoir and Autobiography, Encyclopædia Britannica
- Glossary of Poetic Terms, Poetry Foundation
- Glossary of Poetic Terms, Academy of American Poets
- Haiku: A Whole Lot More Than 5-7-5: And the 5-7-5 rule doesn’t work the way you think, Jack Richardson
- Official Definitions of Haiku and Related Terms, Haiku Society of America
- Work types should be seen as categories and subcategories, a specific work type shouldn’t be added without first adding a more general one to which it belongs (e.g. there should be no “novel” work type without “fiction,” no “sonnet” without “poem”).
- An editor should be as precise in his/her choice as he can, but not guess. If you add a sonnet but don’t know if it is a Petrarchan or Shakespearean sonnet, it’s perfectly appropriate to simply select “sonnet”. If you add a classic poem but aren’t sure which poetic form it belongs to, it’s perfectly fine to add it simply as a poem. More precise classifications are useful, but not a requirement.
- Work types should be clearly defined and refer to specific forms of writing (e.g. editors shouldn’t have to wonder whether “article” refers to a news article, a scientific article, or any general essay).
- The work type defines the work, not the edition: an anthology of newspaper opinion pieces published in book form still contains opinion pieces, not essays; a novel serialized in a newspaper is still a novel, not a newspaper article.
- Folk tale is a suggestion based on this discussion.
- There is an “article” work type, but it’s unclear what it refers to. It seems to be used for any kind of short nonfiction, such as prefaces or essays. The proposal here is to have a work type for articles of the kind published in periodicals.
- Introductory/concluding texts should only be added if they’re not part of the main work. E.g. an introduction about a novel written by an expert is not the same work as the novel itself, but a prologue written in the voice of the narrator would be part of the work.
- There are different kinds of introductory and concluding texts, which are sometimes defined identically, and sometimes defined differently, often in conflicting ways. I tried to follow the most common and general definitions, but generally these kinds of works should be identified by their title, if it says “preface”, it’s a preface, if it says “conclusion” it’s a conclusion.
- I cannot find any justification for “anthology” and “serial” as work types. An anthology is a book (or edition) with a selection of works (poems, short stories, etc.); a serial is a mode of publication, not a type of work (a novel published serially is still a novel).
- Congratulation on getting this far.