Genre Descriptions

 Science Fiction

Science Fiction is a broad genre that can be set in almost any time and place:  past, present, future, Earth, alien planet, space ship, you name it, sci-fi can encompass it.  Sci-fi writing is often heavily based in technology and usually contains an underlying question—what if society were different in one very fundamental way?  What would happen?  Sub-genres include:  steampunk, cyberpunk, lab-lit, and more.  Also goes by the name Speculative Fiction, or Spec-fic.

Fantasy

A genre of fiction usually set in another world and populated with humans as well as non-human creatures.  Elements of mythology are usually present and world building is crucial to this genre.  A good and highly effective fantasy story will transport the reader completely to another world.  That is not to say however, that tough subjects cannot be masterfully covered in the fantasy genre.

Paranormal

The Paranormal genre of writing deals with the supernatural; things that cannot be easily explained in day to day life.  Ghosts, spirits, and strange happenings are common themes in Paranormal writing.  Paranormal fiction and Mystery fiction are both similar in that they deal with the unexplained, however, the Paranormal genre almost always finds its answers (if any answers are to be found) outside of the norms of everyday life.

YA or Young Adult Fiction

The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers is what springs to mind when discussing this genre.  This genre explores the world from a young person’s point of view.  Young persons are defined as older than twelve years and into their early twenties.  However, many adults enjoy reading this genre.  There are many sub-categories to this genre.

New Adult

New Adult deals with more, well, more adult issues, with more intensity. If you were to rate it fiction like films are rated, YA would be G or GP (general with parental guidance); New Adult would be a GP/R rating. It hovers between  two grey areas. As “Harry Potter” was definitely G moving into the GP area as the characters came of age, “Twilight” is definitely borders between GP & New Adult, as does “Hunger Games.”

Western/Pioneer/Civil War

Steeped in historical places and dates, the Western/Pioneer/Civil War genre consists of literature that focuses on frontier life and life during the civil war.  Works of this genre are almost entirely set in the American West and the American South during the time period from the early 1800s to the late 1800s.  This genre can easily contain other sub-genres including mystery, romance, and adventure.

Mainstream Novels

Mainstream Fiction are stories that appeal to a wide audience and a broad cross-section of society.  Publishers love mainstream novels because of their ability to attract readers away from their favorites genres.  Mainstream novels tend to cut across several genres such as romance, mystery, and comedy  along with the stuff from everyday life that we all can identify with.  Mainstream is the Holy Grail of authors who want their books to become bestsellers.

Mystery Novels

Mystery novels involve intricate plotting with clues and a combination of gathering information,  deductions derived by reasoning, and inference to solve a puzzle or a crime. The protagonist is unusually challenged by the protagonist such as in the classic Sherlock Holmes Detective series.

Mysteries can also be thrillers when a ticking clock is added to create suspense.  The protagonist faces many close calls and must overcome challenging obstacles before she can save the day.

Cozy Novels

These are novels tend to become old friends.  They are not page turners or thrillers, but they are compelling reads. You can read a chapter, then turn the light off and go to sleep. Cozies can be written in any genre and may cut across many genres.  They have satisfactory, if not, uplifting happy endings.  Cozies generally do not contain gory details, explicit or graphic sex, violence, or torture situations.

However, this does not mean that serious topics are not dealt with in the genre of cozy.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an excellent example of a cozy novel that dealt with the reality of living under a Nazi regime during WWII.  The No. 1 Ladies Detective series is another example of a cozy novel series that deals with the reality of living in Southern Africa.

Historical Fiction Novels

Historical fiction are stories that take place in time at least three generations (roughly 50 to 75 years) ago. They need to  be accurate as far as technology, dress, habits, historical events,  and mores of the time and place in which the stories are situated.  Because of the construct of a historical novel, writers should  ensure that their stories ring of  authenticity by doing research so that their readers will not stumble upon misconstruencies, which will bring any historical fiction to a screeching halt in the readers’ minds. Stories may take place anywhere from Prehistoric times to the 1940s.  Historical fiction does not have any elements of fantasy, time travel or sci-fi.  Authors of historical fiction use the time period as an interesting backdrop to their plots and characters.

Philippa Gregory’s novels about Tudors are exemplary examples of historical fiction.

Romantic Fiction

CBR follows the Romance Writers of America description of this genre.  The basis of romantic fiction is that it contains a central love story, has an optimistic ending, and is emotionally satisfying.  There are many categories in this genre from sweet romantic cozy stories to shameless erotica.  The romance genre occupies the largest share of the U.S. consumer fiction market. Its sales double any other category of fiction.

To learn more about this category,  visit this link: http://www.rwa.org/cs/the_romance_genre

Narrative Nonfiction

Narrative nonfiction is an increasingly popular genre that is inherently based in fact and real life.  Creativity is encouraged and the best narrative nonfiction works will utilize many of the elements of good fiction writing to craft a compelling nonfiction story.  However, too much “artistic license” or deviation from the facts will quickly turn a nonfiction piece into a work of fiction.  Sub genres include travelogues, memoirs, and career experiences, to name a few.  This genre is also known as creative nonfiction.

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