List of writing genres
Writing genres (commonly known, more narrowly, as literary genres) are determined by narrative technique, tone, content, and sometimes length. The most general genres are epic, tragedy, comedy and creative non-fiction. They are generally (not always) defined by the cultural movement of the historical period of time in which they were composed.
The classic major genres of literature are:
Other major book genres include
Genre categories: fiction and nonfiction
A Genre may fall under one of two categories: fiction and non-fiction. Any genre can be either a work of fiction (nonfactual descriptions and events invented by the author) or a work of nonfiction (a communication in which descriptions and events are understood to be factual).
Common genres: fiction
Subsets of genres, known as common genres, have developed from the archetypes of genres in written expression.
- Classic – fiction that has become part of an accepted literary canon, widely taught in schools
- Comics/Graphic novel – comic magazine or book based on a sequence of pictures (often hand drawn) and few words.
- Crime/detective – fiction about a crime, how the criminal gets caught, and the repercussions of the crime
- Fable – legendary, supernatural tale demonstrating a useful truth
- Fairy tale – story about fairies or other magical creatures
- Fan fiction – fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, or book. Usually takes place on platforms, such as Fanfiction.net or Wattpad
- Fantasy – fiction in a unreal setting that often includes magic, magical creatures, or the supernatural
- Folklore – the songs, stories, myths, and proverbs of a people or "folk" as handed down by word of mouth
- Historical fiction – story with fictional characters and events in an historical setting
- Horror – fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread and sometimes fear in both the characters and the reader
- Humor – usually a fiction full of fun, fancy, and excitement, meant to entertain and sometimes cause intended laughter; but can be contained in all genres
- Legend – story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, that has a basis in fact but also includes imaginative material
- Magical realism – story where magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise realistic environment
- Meta fiction (also known as romantic irony in the context of Romantic works of literature) – uses self-reference to draw attention to itself as a work of art while exposing the "truth" of a story
- Mystery – fiction dealing with the solution of a crime or the revealing of secrets
- Mythology – legend or traditional narrative, often based in part on historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural phenomena by its symbolism; often pertaining to the actions of the gods
- Mythopoeia – fiction in which characters from religious mythology, traditional myths, folklore and/or history are recast into a re-imagined realm created by the author
- Picture book – picture storybook is a book with very little words and a lot of pictures; picture stories are usually for children
- Realistic fiction – story that is true to life
- Science fiction – story based on the impact of actual, imagined, or potential science, often set in the future or on other planets
- Short story – fiction of great brevity, usually supports no subplots
- Suspense/thriller – fiction about harm about to befall a person or group and the attempts made to evade the harm
- Tall tale – humorous story with blatant exaggerations, such as swaggering heroes who do the impossible with nonchalance
- Western – fiction set in the American Old West frontier and typically in the late eighteenth to late nineteenth century
Common genres: non-fiction
- Biography – a narrative of a person's life; when the author is also the main sub, this is an autobiography.
- Essay – a short literary composition that reflects the author's outlook or point.
- Owner's manual (also Instruction manual, User's guide) – an instructional book or booklet that is supplied with consumer products such as vehicles, home appliances, firearms, toys and computer peripherals
- Journalism – reporting on news and current events
- Lab Report – a report of an experiment
- Memoir – factual story that focuses on a significant relationship between the writer and a person, place, or object; reads like a short novel
- Narrative nonfiction/personal narrative – factual information about a significant event presented in a format that tells a story
- Reference book – such as a dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, almanac, or atlas
- Self-help book – information with the intention of instructing readers on solving personal problems.
- Speech – public address or discourse
- Textbook – authoritative and detailed factual description of a topic.
Literary fiction vs. genre fiction
Literary fiction is a term used to distinguish certain fictional works that possess commonly held qualities to readers outside genre fiction. Literary fiction has been defined as any fiction that attempts to engage with one or more truths or questions, hence relevant to a broad scope of humanity as a form of expression. There are many sources that help readers find and define literary fiction and genre fiction.
Genres and subgenres
Some genres listed may reappear throughout the list, indicating cross-genre status.
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- Adventure novel
- British Literature
- Children's literature
- Education fiction
- Erotic fiction
- Experimental fiction
- Graphic novel
- Historical fiction
- Literary fiction
- Literary nonsense
- Mathematical fiction
- Nonfiction novel
- Occupational Fiction
- Philosophical fiction
- Political fiction
- Pulp fiction
- Quantum fiction
- Religious fiction
- Speculative fiction
- By setting
- By theme
- Science fiction
- Alien invasion
- Cyberpunk derivatives, aka punk
- Hard science fiction
- Military science fiction
- Parallel universe, aka alternative universe
- Scientific romance
- Soft science fiction
- Space opera
- Speculative cross-genre fiction
- Suspense fiction
- Urban fiction
- Women's fiction
- Workplace tell-all
- General cross-genre
These are genres belonging to the realm of non-fiction. Some genres listed may reappear throughout the list, indicating cross-genre status.
- Creative nonfiction
- Cult literature
- Diaries and journals
- Erotic literature
- Essay, treatise
- Religious text
- Occult literature
- Wisdom literature
- Scientific writing
- True crime
- Nancy Pearl, Now Read This: A Guide to Mainstream Fiction Archived 2012-09-14 at the Library of Congress Web Archives, Libraries Unlimited, 1999, 432 pp. (1-56308-659-X)
- Saricks, J. (2001). The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. Chicago and London: American Library Association.
- "Jewish fiction". Goodreads.