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For me, a story's genre is like a painting's frame. The story fits into the frame and meets the expectations of the viewer. You won't see a portrait or landscape if you're in a gallery featuring abstract work. But, if you do, you'll notice something added to or taken away from that depiction. However, the frame around the picture could be similar.

 Like the contents of the picture, framed by the viewer's expectations, most stories can fit into a specific genre. Go to a bookstore, and you'll see books shelved under different levels. Some stories are not as easy to classify and cross genres, like a Romance with Comedic elements. There are Horror stories with Thriller elements, etc.

Here are some of the genres available to storytellers. A loose definition of genre is a category that groups novels with similar themes, tones, or styles. Choosing a genre can help novelists meet their readers' expectations and follow some conventions and guidelines for their writing. However, novelists can also experiment with mixing genres or creating new ones to express creativity and originality.

Historical Fiction

I write Historical Fiction because I believe we can learn and be entertained by the actions of people from our past. Historical fiction is a genre that sets the story in a specific period in history. Historical fiction novels often use actual historical events, people, or places as a backdrop for their fictional plots and characters. Historical fiction novels can also explore alternative histories or historical fantasies. Historical fiction novels usually require extensive research and accuracy to create an authentic and immersive historical setting.

Some examples of historical fiction novels are:

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Literary Fiction

Literary fiction is a genre that focuses on the artistic and literary merit of the writing rather than on the plot or entertainment value. Literary fiction novels are usually character-driven, exploring their protagonists' inner lives, emotions, motivations, and conflicts. Literary fiction novels often deal with complex and universal themes, such as identity, morality, society, culture, and history. Literary fiction novels are known for their stylistic sophistication, rich language, symbolism, and ambiguity.

Some examples of literary fiction novels are:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison


Mystery is a genre that revolves around a crime or a puzzle that needs to be solved by the main character, usually a detective or an amateur sleuth. Mystery novels often involve clues, suspects, red herrings, twists, and turns that keep the reader guessing until the end. Mystery novels can also incorporate elements of other genres, such as thriller, horror, romance, or historical fiction.

Some examples of mystery novels are:

  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown


Thriller is a genre that creates suspense, excitement, and tension for the reader. Thriller novels often feature a protagonist in danger or under threat from an antagonist or a situation. Thriller novels usually have fast-paced plots, high stakes, action scenes, and cliffhangers. Thriller novels can blend with other genres like mystery, crime, spy, horror, or science fiction.

Some examples of thriller novels are:

  • The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
  • The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • The Martian by Andy Weir


Horror is a genre that aims to frighten, disturb, or shock the reader. Horror novels often feature supernatural or monstrous entities, such as ghosts, vampires, zombies, or demons. Horror novels can also explore psychological or realistic horrors, such as serial killers, cults, or diseases. Horror novels usually have dark atmospheres, graphic descriptions, and themes of death, fear, and evil.

Some examples of horror novels are:

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
  • World War Z by Max Brooks


Romance is a genre that focuses on the romantic relationship between two or more characters. Romance novels often follow a formula of attraction, conflict, resolution, and happy ending. Romance novels can also vary in tone, setting, subgenre, and level of explicitness. Romance novels are among the most popular and diverse genres for novelists and readers.

Some examples of romance novels are:

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


Fantasy is a genre that uses elements of magic or the supernatural to create an imaginary world or reality. Fantasy novels often draw inspiration from mythology, folklore, fairy tales, or legends. Fantasy novels can also be divided into subgenres, such as high, low, urban, dark, or epic. Fantasy novels usually have complex and creative world-building, magic systems, and characters.

Some examples of fantasy novels are:

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Science Fiction

Science fiction is a genre that uses science or technology to imagine a future or an alternative reality. Science fiction novels often explore the consequences or implications of scientific discoveries, inventions, experiments, or phenomena. Science fiction novels can also deal with themes such as space exploration, time travel, alien encounters, dystopias, or utopias. Science fiction novels usually have realistic or plausible scientific explanations for their scenarios and events.

Some examples of science fiction novels are:

  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

These are some of the most popular and influential genres for novelists, but they are not the only ones. Novelists can also explore other genres, such as western, comedy, adventure, young adult, graphic novel, or memoir. Novelists can also mix and match genres to create unique styles and voices. The most important thing for novelists is finding the best genre that suits their story and audience.


Research aided by BART.


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