Genre tips

Today’s #AtoZChallenge : Tragedies

A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post every day except Sundays during the month of April on a thematic topic–nothing else. This year, I’ll be covering writing genres.

Today’s genre:



Tragedy is a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying pleasure in audiences. 

Tipsa to z

  1. Flesh out the plot.
  2. Develop the tragic hero’s downfall.
  3. Incorporate simile and/or metaphor.
  4. The plot ought to be so constructed that, even without the aid of the eye, he who hears the tale told will thrill with horror and melt to pity at what takes place (Aristotle).
  5. Elicit fear and pity and provide a catharsis for the audience’s feelings.
  6. Deal in universal and general truths and principles such as choice, fate, or the nature of being human.
  7. The climax should be logical but unexpected, casting a whole new light on the story and clarifying the universal truth central to it.
  8. Story must end in death, destruction, or some other form of personal tragedy for the main character.
  9. Include at least one major scene of suffering.
  10. The hero should be an average person—neither good nor evil—who goes from prosperity to adversity.

Popular Tragedies

  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Coriolanus
  • Hamlet
  • Julius Caesar
  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
  • Othello
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Timon of Athens
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Troilus and Cressida

More T Genres:

Click for complete list of genres

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for May, 2017. Click to follow its progress.

64 thoughts on “Today’s #AtoZChallenge : Tragedies

  1. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Textbook |

  2. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Treatises | WordDreams...

  3. Pingback: Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Twitter Novel | WordDreams...

  4. I have seen a lot of tragedies in my life, working first as a nurse, second at OPP and last my own life. I have learned to grow and get tougher with each arrow my husband has thrown at me including my paid lawyers since 2014. But I have learned a lot and at least animals are not cruel or unkind to persons unless their life is threatened. Unlike humans they lie, cheat, steal, do what ever it takes to hurt others including their own family members. too bad. Life goes on. Now I am going forward with my life.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Shakepeare is unbeatable but here are some contemporary novels: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (when i read this out loud to my sons, I always cried so much through the last 4 pages that they had to take the book and read to the end,) The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (the book that most motivated me to become a writer,) We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Atonement by Ian McEwan, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (which I started to read when I was about 11,) Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (I think I once owned a first edition!) and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. You’ll note that many of these are children’s books, or at least young adult books. I was very drawn to this genre when I was a kid. What does that say about me? Yeah, I know, don’t answer. I highly recommend every one of these titles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They have always been depressing to me, not to take anything away from the writing skills. When I got old enough to understand what a ‘tragedy’ was in literary terms, I understood why.


  6. You can’t beat old Shakespeare in the Tragedy department. He knew how to bring down those high and mighty kings and queens, didn’t he? Our modern “tragedies” have a much different and less heroic character that falls from an already lowly perch. Miller did a great job of it though, and I will always empathize with Willy Loman.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The classic definition also includes a major personality flaw in the main character. Hamlet is my favorite example of tragedy. Hamlet couldn’t find in himself to take bold action. If he had, he would have become king with everyone in the audience cheering (and likely most of the characters in the story too). The tragic part comes when we find Hamlet incapable of making decisions and taking action causing him to act badly and letting things go horribly wrong.

    The trick of tragedy is not to just let bad things happen, but to let them happen because people are flawed and do things against their best interests.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Interesting that all the examples are classics – not sure I can think of a modern example from literature either. Does that mean it’s not a genre authors want to write or readers want to read, too challengin? Perhaps the need for the hero to suffer, for there to be a moral message makes it unlikely to be tackled nowadays…

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure if I read the original book (with the original difficult/old language). I used to read these through a series that I think it was lighter – for the purpose of learning English. But honestly, Romeo & Juliet is very sad as in Paul et Virginie or Die Leiden des jungen Werthers. Reading such stories isn’t fun at all!!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow..that’s the top of the tragedies! My son’s studying MacBeth at school this year so it’s been interesting to revisit this particular Shakespeare play. Definitely got a long list of deaths during the acts! Well done on the A-Z challenge, Jacqui, I’m in awe how you’re managing to do all these posts and still keep them all fresh and original. Very interesting reading. You’ll be due a break soon, methinks! 😀❤️

    Liked by 1 person

What do you think? Leave a comment and I'll reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.