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Genres of Fiction

Yesterday I met up with a few writing buddies when the issue of genre, and why it is important, came up.

Books are slotted into genres mostly to make marketing simpler. Even when you are shopping around for literary agents, you will find that a lot of them require that you categorize your books, mainly so they know how to pitch your book to editors.

Sometimes it is easy. Your book is clearly horror, or thriller or romance. Sometimes it is not so easy.

This is something I’ve been battling with personally too. I wrote what I thought was mainstream fiction. But my book, “Tell A Thousand Lies” was critiqued mainly by women (no issue with the quality of critiques, I got fantastic help), but my point is that it was mostly women (from my online critique group) who chose to critique it. So does that mean my book is “Women’s Fiction”? I wish I knew.

Literary fiction is another category that is hard to pin down. The definition of it is vague. It can be plotless, the book being carried along solely by the quality of its writing, or can have a plot, but still the writing is a cut above mass market fiction. That’s the best I can come up with.

A partial list of genres:

  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Literary
  • Horror
  • Historical
  • Speculative (sometimes covers science, fantasy, horror. Could be an overlap)
  • Mainstream
  • Thriller
  • Steampunk (sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history and speculative fiction, according to Wikipedia. Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian Britain)
  • Young adult
  • Children’s
  • Comics
  • Graphic novels
  • Memoirs (autobiographies)
  • Religious

This list is, by no means, exhaustive.

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