• Action/Adventure – stories where there is an element of danger and risk. This category often overlaps the others, so that you have a fantasy novel with lots of adventure, or an adventure story withamystery.
  • Comic or Graphic Novel – a fairly new category which includes the art as well as the story writing
  • Contemporary – any novel, but particularly Romance or Drama, set during current events
  • Crime – can range from lighthearted caper to serious drama told from the viewpoint of the person commiting the act.
  • Drama – the original term ‘drama’ meant stage drama, and was divided into comedy and tragedy – now we use the term to refer to any sort of fiction that … well, that doesn’t fit into any of the other categories on this page!
  • Dystopian – explores alternate realities, social systems
  • Erotic or Pornography – stories about sex
  • Erotica or Erotic Romance – Romance stories with sex. Must have an HEA (Happily Ever After) or HFN (Happy for Now) ending.
  • Espionage or Spy Thriller – stories about spies and international intrigue
  • Fanfiction – stories about another author’s characters, such as Harry Potter fanfiction or Star Trek fanfiction.This sort of fiction cannot be sold!
  • Fantasy – stories that contain elements of what was once called ‘fairy tales.’ Fantasy stories deal with magic or supernatural abilities, magical or supernatural beings, or simply ‘what if’ situations such as alternate universes. Fantasy can be further divided into classic, alternate universe, celtic, comic, contemporary, dark, folktale, heroic, high, historical, juvenile, medieval, myth, prehistoric, romantic, steampunk,superhero, swordand sorcery, urban, and wuxia
  • Gothic – originally, this was just another way of saying ‘horror,’ but now the term is used to mean a story that combines romance and horror
  • Historical Fiction – stories set in the past and describing the events and characters’ lives. This category often overlaps the others, so that you have historical fantasy or historical romance.
  • Horror – stories dealing with things that frighten us. Horror can be further divided into body-related (disease, mutation, mutilation, etc), holocaust, ghost stories, natural disaster, psychological thriller, supernatural and zombie
  • Humor or Comedy – stories that make us laugh. Comedy can be further divided into burlesque, comedy of manners, farce, parody, satire, and sentimental
  • Inspirational – Religious themes, often Christian, meant to inspire.
  • Medical – stories about the field of medicine and the people who work in it
  • Mystery – stories that contain a crime, puzzle, or confusing situation. Mystery can be further divided into cozy,detective (amateur, hardboiled, private investigator), medical, police procedural, supernatural, andwhodunit
  • Poetry – rhythmic writing that deals with emotion. Poems do not have to rhyme, but they must be concise and emotional. Poetry can be broadly divided into epic, dramatic, lyric, narrative, and satirical. Specific poetry forms include acrostic, canzone, carmina figurata, cinquain, concrete, elegy, fixed verse, free verse, ghazal, haiku, jintishi, minnesang, murabba, ode, pantoum, quatrain, rondeau, ruba’i, sestina, sijo, song, sonnet,stev, tanka, and villanelle
  • Political – stories about the world of politics and the people who work in it
  • Romance – stories about love. Romance can be broadly divided into category (series) and stand-alone (single title). Romance subgenres include contemporary, erotica, historical, inspirational, multi-cultural,paranormal, romantic suspense, romantic science fiction, and time travel and variations thereof.
  • Science-Fiction – or Sci-fi or Sci-fi/Fantasy – ‘what if’ stories that are based on actual scientific fact. Science fiction must have some sort of logical science inherent to the story, or some sort of logical basis for what is going on. Science fiction can be broadly divided into hard (the science is the most important part of the story), soft (the characters are the most important part of the story) or social (the culture is the most important part of the story). Science fiction subgenres include alternatehistory, apocalyptic, biopunk, cyberpunk, dying planet, gothic, military, pulp,steampunk, time travel, space colonization, space opera, and urban
  • Short Story – this is not a genre but a length. A work of fiction is called a short story if it has less than 7500 words in it – short stories can be written in any genre. Novella is another length – greater than 7500 words but shorter than 50,000.
  • Stream of Consciousness – also called free-writing – unedited and spontaneous ramblings on any topic
  • Transgressive – focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual and/or illicit ways. Because they are rebelling against the basic norms of society, protagonists of transgressional fiction may seem mentally ill, anti-social, or nihilistic. The genre deals extensively with taboo subject matters such as drugs, sex, violence, incest, pedophilia, and crime
  • Thriller/Suspense – writing that contains an ‘edge of your seat’ element. The protagonist is either in danger for the first moment, or becomes aware of being in danger through circumstance, and then must find a resolution.
  • Tragedy – stories that make us cry
  • War/Military Fiction – stories about war and the military
  • Western Fiction – stories about the American Old West. Westerns are usually adventure fiction that is specifically set in this period of US history, usually (but not always) dealing with the western states and Mexico.

Many of these genres can be and are combined. Most romance novels contain elements of the others – contemporary romantic suspense will be set in current times, and the heroine (usually) is in danger. (Otherwise known as women in jeopardy). Western fiction can be Contemporary or Historical.

Kai Wilson-Viola writes under various names, and in all genres. Co-founder and webmistress of the IAG site, she writes content on request of members.
She has written several books including the Ten Hour Marketing Plan and 12x12 - tutorials for social media.
When not writing, she can be found maintaining sites, designing themes, managing a charity called the Less than Three foundation, gaming, knitting or reading.

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