List of writing genres

Writing genres (more commonly known as literary genres) are categories that distinguish literature (including works of prose, poetry, drama, hybrid forms, etc.) based on some set of stylistic criteria. Sharing literary conventions, they typically consist of similarities in theme/topic, style, tropes, and storytelling devices; common settings and character types; and/or formulaic patterns of character interactions and events, and an overall predictable form.

A literary genre may fall under either one of two categories: (a) a work of fiction, involving non-factual descriptions and events invented by the author; or (b) a work of nonfiction, in which descriptions and events are understood to be factual. In literature, a work of fiction can refer to a flash narrative, short story, novella, and novel, the latter being the longest form of literary prose. Every work of fiction falls into a literary subgenre, each with its own style, tone, and storytelling devices.[1]

Moreover, these genres are formed by shared literary conventions that change over time as new genres emerge while others fade. Accordingly, they are often defined by the cultural expectations and needs of a particular historical and cultural moment or place.[2]

According to Alastair Fowler, the following elements can define genres: organizational features (chapters, acts, scenes, stanzas); length; mood; style; the reader's role (e.g., in mystery works, readers are expected to interpret evidence); and the author's reason for writing (an epithalamion is a poem composed for marriage).[3]



Genres are formed shared literary conventions that change over time as new genres emerge while others fade. As such, genres are not wholly fixed categories of writing; rather, their content evolves according to social and cultural contexts and contemporary questions of morals and norms.[2]

The most enduring genres are those literary forms that were defined and performed by the Ancient Greeks; definitions sharpened by the proscriptions of modern civilization's earliest literary critics and rhetorical scholars, such as Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Aeschylus, Aspasia, Euripides, and others. The prevailing genres of literary composition in Ancient Greece were all written and constructed to explore cultural, moral, or ethical questions; they were ultimately defined as the genres of epic, tragedy, and comedy. Aristotle's proscriptive analysis of tragedy, for example, as expressed in his Rhetoric and Poetics, saw it as having 6 parts (music, diction, plot, character, thought, and spectacle) working together in particular ways. Thus, Aristotle established one of the earliest delineations of the elements that define genre.

Fiction genres


Action and adventure


Action fiction and adventure fiction. The hero's journey is the most popular narrative structure of an adventure novel.[5]



Comedy (including comic novel, light poetry, and comedic journalism): usually a fiction full of fun, fancy, and excitement, meant to entertain and sometimes cause intended laughter; but can be contained in all genres.

Crime and mystery


Crime fiction (including crime comics) centers on a crime(s), how the criminal gets caught and serves time, and the repercussions of the crime

Speculative fiction




Fantasy (including comics and magazines) is a speculative fiction that use imaginary characters set in fictional universes inspired by mythology and folklore, often including magical elements, magical creatures, or the supernatural. Examples: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1885) and the Harry Potter books.[1]



Horror (including comics and magazines) involves fiction in which plot and characters are tools that elicit a feeling of dread and terror, as well as events that often evoke fear in both the characters and the reader.[1] Horrors generally focus on themes of death, demons, evil spirits, and the afterlife.

Science fiction


Science fiction (including comics, magazines, novels, and short stories) is speculative fiction with imagined elements that are inspired by natural sciences (physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc.) or social sciences (psychology, anthropology, sociology, etc.). Common elements of this genre include time travel, space exploration, and futuristic societies. (Sci-fi was originally regarded as scientific romance.)[1]



Romantic fiction primarily focuses on a love story between two people, usually with an optimistic, emotionally satisfying ending.[1] Also Romance (literary fiction) – works that frequently, but not exclusively, takes the form of the historical romance.

Nonfiction genres


Literary fiction vs. genre fiction


Literary fiction is a term that distinguishes certain fictional works that possess commonly held qualities to readers outside genre fiction.[citation needed] Literary fiction is 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.[citation needed] Genre fiction is fiction written to appeal to fans of a specific genre.[12] There are many sources that help readers find and define literary fiction and genre fiction.[13][14]

Other nonfiction genres


These are genres belonging to the realm of nonfiction. Some genres listed may reappear throughout the list, indicating cross-genre status.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "What Are the Different Genres of Literature? A Guide to 14 Literary Genres". MasterClass. November 8, 2020. Archived from the original on April 14, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Neto, Bill (March 16, 2021). "Literary Genres". eBooks Discounts. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  3. ^ David, Mikics (2010). A New Handbook of Literary Term. Yale University Press. pp. 132–133. ISBN 9780300164312.
  4. ^ Elliott, Robert (1960). The Power of Satire: Magic, Ritual, Art. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691012766.
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  6. ^ a b c d "What Is the Mystery Genre? Learn About Mystery and Crime Fiction, Plus 6 Tips for Writing a Mystery Novel". MasterClass. November 8, 2020. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  7. ^ "What Makes a Cozy Just That?". Cozy Mystery List. Archived from the original on April 14, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  8. ^ "Appendix C (For Cozy!)". 25 January 2022.
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  11. ^ "The Romance Genre: Romance Literature Subgenres". Romance Writers of America. Archived from the original on July 27, 2010. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  12. ^ French, Christy. "Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction". AuthorsDen. Archived from the original on October 20, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  13. ^ Pearl, Nancy (2010). Now Read This III: A Guide to Mainstream Fiction. Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 9781591585701.
  14. ^ Saricks, Joyce (2001). The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. American Library Association. ISBN 9780838908037.
  15. ^ Dumville, David (1976). "Echtrae and Immram: Some Problems of Definition". Ériu. 27: 73–94. JSTOR 30007669. Archived from the original on 2021-04-18. Retrieved 2021-04-17 – via JSTOR.
  16. ^ Deane, Bradley (2008). "Imperial Barbarians: Primitive masculinity in Lost World fiction". Victorian Literature and Culture. 36 (1): 205–225. doi:10.1017/S1060150308080121. JSTOR 40347601. S2CID 162826920. Archived from the original on 2021-04-17. Retrieved 2021-04-17 – via JSTOR.
  17. ^ Weaver-Hightower, Rebecca (2007). Empire Islands: Castaways, Cannibals, and Fantasies of Conquest. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816648634.
  18. ^ Coogan, Michael; Chapman, Cynthia (2019). A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in Its Context. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190903756.
  19. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (2004). Romantic Affinities: Portraits from an Age 1780–1830. Random House UK. pp. 192–196. ISBN 9781844134212.
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  21. ^ "Jewish fiction". Goodreads. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2020.