The first question asked when a writer sends a manuscript to an agent, a publisher or a self publishing site, is “What genre is it?” Several Years ago, I wrote a blog defining the many Art Genres. This year, I decided to try the same with writing. I searched the internet and pulled up most of these definitions from Wikipedia, and various other internet sources who defined writing genre. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it might help my fellow writers when asked by a publisher to define the genre of the book they have just written. There is an enormous amount of information about book genres, so I will be presenting these blogs genre by genre over the next few weeks. I limited myself to fiction. I may do a similar chart for non-fiction later though. I got the idea for the chart from a Facebook post, but I made some changes and additions to what was there. Please feel free to share or add to it.
WHAT IF MY BOOK DOESN’T FIT INTO ANY GENRE?
Don’t worry, you can usually just use General Fiction.
General: like Children’s and Youth Fiction, General Fiction can span all decades and genres. These are books that fall into the general fiction genre are often ones that straddle so many genres it’s hard to place them in any specific genre. The books in the general fiction genre can be a combination of any three or more genres of fiction that cause them to be outside the limits and rules of those specific genres. Examples of this: a science fiction, fantasy, romance that has strong elements of comedy and action and adventure. The Kite Runner, Water for Elephants, Life of Pi, The Great Gatsby, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and the Poisonwood Bible. General Fiction is that strange catch-all genre where titles no one knows how to classify end up. This section generally takes up about half a bookstore’s inventory. But even though it’s a vague term, there are some types fiction that are guaranteed to be found in this section of bookstores or libraries.
Classic Literature: Stories that are representative of the time in which they were written, but because they have a universal appeal, the books lasted in print and popularity. “Little Women” and “A Tale Of Two Cities” comes to mind.
Drama: A novel centered on the conflict or contrast of characters.
Humor: A humorous novel has one goal: to provide amusement and make the reader laugh.
Satire: This is category closely related to humor, but it has a more malicious edge. Its main elements are irony, sarcasm and parody. Unlike straight humor, satire is created to draw attention to social problems through wit. Satires always have a message of some kind.
Realistic Fiction: All realistic fiction has these three elements 1) a setting that can be found in the real world 2) the characters will be lifelike and fully formed 3) a conflict or problem that centers on everyday issues or personal relationships that could exist in real life.
Tragedy: A tragedy takes a reader through events leading to the self-destruction or catastrophe for the lead characters or those around them. It is sometimes referred to as a tear-jerker. A tragi-comedy is a combination of tragedy and comedy. To qualify as this type of fiction there must be an equal mixture of both tragedy and comedy.
Chick Lit or Women’s Fiction: This is fiction aimed at women and addresses a variety of subjects, i.e. from shopping to relationships. Think Sex and the City.
Inspirational Fiction: this type of novel has the goal of inspiring the reader. Its lead characters overcome obstacles and it can be set in the past, present or the future provided that the setting could occur in real life. Most Christian fiction will fall under this category.
Historical Fiction: we covered Historical fiction in the various genres, but there are some novels who simply don’t fit into them. The main idea would be to showcase the past in an accurate manner while making the characters interesting. If it involves real events, they must be reported accurately and without change. The most successful historical fiction sometimes tells the story of ordinary people and how they are affected by historical events.