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What are the fiction genres?

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The usual categories of fiction (called genres) include the following:
  • 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 with a mystery.
  • Comic or Graphic Novel - a fairly new category which includes the art as well as the story writing
  • 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!
  • Erotic or Pornography - stories about sex
  • 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 alternate universe, bangsian, celtic, comic, contemporary, dark, folktale, heroic, high, historical, juvenile, medieval, myth, prehistoric, romantic, steampunk, superhero, sword and 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, and supernatural
  • Humor or Comedy - stories that make us laugh. Comedy can be further divided into burlesque, comedy of manners, farce, parody, satire, and sentimental
  • 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, and whodunit
  • 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
  • Realistic Fiction is a genre that tells made-up stories about things that could really happen about people who could really be real.
  • Romance - stories about love. Romance can be broadly divided into catogory (series) and stand-alone (single title). Romance subgenres include contemporary, erotic, historical, inspirational, multi-cultural, paranormal, romantic suspense, romantic science fiction, and time travel
  • Science-Fiction - '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 alternate history, apocalyptic, biopunk, cyberpunk, dying planet, gothic, military, pulp, steampunk, time travel, space colonization, space opera, and urban
  • Short Story - actually, 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.
  • Stream of Consciousness - also called free-writing - unedited and spontaneous ramblings on any topic
  • Tragedy - stories that make us cry
  • War 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.
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