Monday, April 9, 2012

The A to Z Challenge: Today's Word: Genre

"Genre." Most writers know exactly what that word means, right? Or... do we? Do you really know exactly what genre you're writing in, all the time? Do you ever wonder if your non-fiction article is "creative" non-fiction, "narrative" non- fiction, or just factual non-fiction? What about fiction itself? Are you writing a mystery or a thriller or a detective story? Is it contemporary or historical? Is it fantasy or science fiction?

Until I did some research into the concept of "genre", I had no idea of all the kinds of genre there are. I can't go into a description of every one, so I'm just going to give you an idea of the multiple genres that do exist in today's literature. Figuring out precisely which one you're writing in is up to you. And all I have to say to that is...Good Luck!

First, a definition. As you might have guessed, there are also a variety of definitions for that word, so I'm only going with one: In literature, a genre is a specific type of literary composition that possesses all of the distinctive characteristics of that genre consistent with a particular theme or subject.

When I started reading about genres, the kinds and types, what they entailed, how they were divided by theme and/or subject, I was amazed at the number of genres that actually exist today. So now I'm going to share that amazement with you, and let you come to your own conclusions about whether these are all, in fact, true genres in today's writing world. At the same time, I can't give every single one, because there are far too many for this blog. It's just a sample to whet your curiosity!


Adventure: Epic, Imaginary voyages, Lost World
Comic novel: Black comedy, satire >political satire, parody
Cyber punk: Diesel punk, atom punk, nano punk, postcyberpunk ( ????)
Dystopian: Political (Brave New World), Post Apocalyptic ( Hunger Games), and
                    Social (Soylent Green) > to name a few
**Fantasy: Comic, magic realism, paranormal fantasy, superhero fantasy, sword 
                and sorcery, epic/high fantasy, prehistoric fantasy, historical fantasy,
                urban fantasy, romantic fantasy
Historical: Romance, mystery, prehistoric, Civil War
Speculative: Science Fiction> hard science fiction, soft science fiction, space,
                      alternate universe
Steampunk: Clockpunk
Suspense: Crime, detective, mystery
Thriller: Conspiracy fiction, legal thriller, medical thriller, political thriller>spy
                 fiction, psychological thriller, techno-thriller

** Fables, fairy tales, and folklore were also listed under Fantasy, but since most of these stories are historically based on cultural facts, myths, and legends, I think they belong in a category by themselves, and should not be listed so simplistically as "fiction."

As I said, the list of "genres" doesn't stop with what I've written. I leave it to you to decide where, when, why, and how to describe your own written work in terms of its genre.

Until next time,
That's a wrap.


  1. Genres can be tricky sometimes, especially when people start mixing them. I referred to my MG novel as paranormal fantasy because one agent called it that, but then when I went to a conference the entire panel said they'd never heard of paranormal fantasy. It was either fantasy or paranormal. That was two years ago. I've been hearing paranormal fantasy more now, so I guess there is such a thing. Maybe?

  2. Kelly, I think most anything is possible these days. So many writers are mixing their genres, and the list I gave here is very incomplete. I didn't see "paranormal fantasy" but I also have heard the term, so I think it's probably going to become a genre, if it hasn't already.