Genres help us classify and understand stories based on similar themes/aesthetics that the genre categories encompass. While not all stories fit neatly into these genre categories, here is a base understanding of each so you can best align your story for discoverability.
With love as a driving force, a romance is a form of fiction that traces the growing relationship between two individuals, and oftentimes, the struggle to reconcile their differences or their pasts. The protagonists typically undergo personal development, equally challenged and changed by their beloved.
Example: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Fantasy is a form of fiction which takes place within an alternative world - an imaginary realm wherein magical and supernatural forces pervade. Fantasy stories explore archetypal truths and experiences of an ordinary protagonist, as he or she embarks on an extraordinary quest. Legendary, mythological, and folkloric traditions characterise the genre, thus fantasy stories are often rife with dragons, trolls, wizards, and knights. Typically, fantasy deals with universal themes, such as the struggle of good against evil or the struggle of an individual against society.
Example: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
Paranormal is a form of fiction that occurs in a modern-day setting, but contains creatures or happenings that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding or “normal” human experience. Paranormal stories often explore a human protagonist within a paranormal world, as well as their encounter with paranormal beings or individuals with paranormal abilities, such as ghosts, angels, vampires, werewolves, clairvoyants, or telekinetics.
Example: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.
Horror is a form of fiction that intends to scare or disturb through a protagonist’s experience with an uncanny or menacing force. Horror evokes an emotional, psychological, or physical response (i.e., fear) within the reader and intrudes on a reader’s comfort level. Horror stories usually involve a protagonist’s confrontation with the unknown and the malevolent aspects of humanity, as well as the unsettling realization that human knowledge is limited.
Example: The Shining by Stephen King
Historical fiction usually recounts a famed event of the past or a memorable, recognizable period time period as experienced by fictional characters, but may also describe a historical figure (in their perceived likeness) that must deal with a variety of imagined situations. Historical fiction attempts to accurately capture the essence of history and realise as fully as possible the way the world once was. Striving for plausibility and authenticity, historical fiction allows the reader to both live and learn history, often showcasing political or social issues of the time.
Examples: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell.
Fanfiction is writing that remixes characters, places, or plots from existing narratives to tell new, original stories. Existing narratives could mean things like popular books, tv shows, movies, games, comics, or plays. Some types of fanfiction even cast real people as characters in the stories. Fanfiction can expand the story world (like sending Katniss into the 76th Hunger Games) or can take known characters in completely new directions (like having Katniss battle it out with Pikachu).
Example: Definitive Therapy by F. Paul Wilson
Short stories are works of brief narrative prose, which usually focus on a limited number of characters and a single, decisive plot incident. Significantly shorter and more compact than novels, short stories leave the reader with a snapshot or slice of life.
Example: The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe.
Spiritual fiction often involves a protagonist who embarks on a journey of self-reflection and self-actualization, which includes spiritual, although not necessarily religious, experiences. Spiritual fiction nourishes the soul, captivates the emotions, and attempts to explain existential questions such as why are we here, what is the meaning of life, and what happens when we die.
Example: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Classics are stories written over 100 years ago that stand the test of time as works of high literary merit and artistic qualities. Classics are universally appealing to readers and their themes endure and resonate in contemporary society. Classics are also traditionally accepted as influential in shaping culture.
Science Fiction typically revolves around a futuristic or space-age world wherein imaginative scientific and technological innovations are possible within the story’s established laws of nature. Science Fiction deals with the consequences and impact of science (actual or imagined) on individual and societal levels, and often includes advanced devices, such as time-machines, or other life forms, such as aliens.
Examples: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.
Humor stories seek to entertain and amuse with fun, fancy, or ridiculousness, while simultaneously constructing a narrative that resonates with the reader. Sometimes these works take the form of Satire, wherein a story that may seem serious on the surface is carrying out a tongue-in-cheek critique of some cultural or societal element.
Example: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.
Mystery / Thriller
Mystery stories feature a protagonist who investigates a crime, problem, puzzle, or some sort of unknown. The protagonist, whether an actual detective or an amateur, often struggles to achieve his or her goals and endures various psychological and physical obstacles, but gradually deduces the solution through facts, logic, and working backward. These stories encourage the reader to actively engage in solving the mystery for themselves and require the reader to pay careful attention to clues, suspects, and evidence presented in order to intellectually satisfy.
Example: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
While thriller stories also focus on uncovering mysteries, they move at a faster pace and are driven by action, tension, excitement, and violence. Thriller stories are often quite sensational, and involve larger-scale criminal offenses with higher stakes, such as conspiracy or espionage. Thrillers also include dangerous situations that the protagonist endures while trying to solve the greater problem.
Example: Casino Royale by Sir Ian Fleming.
Action / Adventure
Risk, danger, and excitement inform adventure fiction, which focuses on a particular challenge, quest, or journey which the protagonist, or hero, must undertake and successfully complete. Adventure fiction includes a villain or other antagonistic forces which the hero thwarts with wits and ingenuity, rather than violence.
Example: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
Teen Fiction traces the ins, outs, ups and downs of growing up through the emotional, physical, and social experiences of a teenaged or young adult protagonist with which readers identify. Teen Fiction often takes place within a high school setting and may serve as a “coming-of-age” story, documenting the awkwardness of adolescence and the challenge of coping with difficult social issues.
Example: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Looking for Alaska by John Green.
ChickLit concerns itself with the struggles of modern womanhood. While romantic elements often exist in ChickLit, stories typically focus on the female protagonist’s relationships with friends or family.
Example: Short Writings by Marian Keyes
As William Wordsworth said, poetry is “the spontaneous outflow of powerful feelings.” Indeed, poetry employs rhythm, language, rhetorical devices, and figures of speech to convey an imaginative, emotional experience. Poetry contrasts with prose, or everyday writing, and often uses elaborate diction and figurative language which conceals deeper meaning.
Example: Fire and Ice by Robert Frost.
Vampire fiction concerns itself primarily with the subject of vampires who feed on living creatures in order to survive. While vampires were traditionally horrific and villainous, modern interpretations often reimagine the fanged bloodsuckers as more nuanced and complex entities. Vampire fiction usually deals with the human protagonist’s encounter with a vampire, their romantic relationship with a vampire, or his or her transformation into a vampire themselves. Other conflicts may include vampire-hunting or drama within the vampire coven.
Example: Dracula by Bram Stoker.
Werewolf fiction concerns itself primarily with the subject of werewolves or other human/beast forms from folklore and monster myths. Werewolf fiction often focuses on lycanthropy - the supernatural transformation of a human into a wolf - and its repercussions, but may also include associated drama within the hierarchy of the pack and the struggle for the protagonist to repress primal impulses and bestial urges.
General Fiction, sometimes called contemporary fiction, focuses on the everyday experiences and conflicts of a protagonist, usually an adult, with detailed characterization and background. General Fiction is intended for older readers and has more mature themes.
Non-Fiction is writing that focuses on real events, people, and experiences. The genre includes (but is not limited to) memoirs, travelogues, biographies, and business advice.
Example: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
Not every work of writing easily fits into these categories, and we are fully aware that these content categories may need to change over time. Until they do, we have included a "Random" category to capture writing that lives outside these defined genres.