Genre is a style or category of literature. It controls what you write and how you write it. Genre is sometimes more important for the reader than it is for the writer. It helps the reader find their favourite literature in a world with many reads to choose from. It also helps to fulfil reader expectations. If you choose to write in a particular genre, readers will come to know and love your work and will also come to expect it from you.
How do you classify genres?
Genre is influenced by several factors but there are a few ways of telling genres apart. Pieces of writing are classified as being part of a particular genre based on:
1. Tone of the writing (the tone of a horror story will be different to that of a romance novel, for example)
2. Writing style.
3. Narrative technique
4. Length of the piece
6. Character types
8. Content (What the story is about)
What are some popular genres?
These are stories about romantic relationships between people. Often the people are kept apart for most of the story only to find each other in the end. This genre is characterised by desire, idealism and sensual tension. Examples of such books are those published by Mills & Boon, a romance publisher in the UK. Romance is an extremely popular genre with Mills & Boon publishing 720 romance novels a year.
Thrillers make for a gripping read. They are usually about a character in danger or needing to find escape. There is most likely a sinister character the protagonist must outwit or fight against. The threats can be either physical or psychological. There are cliff-hangers along the way to keep the reader hooked.
These are scary stories which usually involve an element of escape. The protagonist must overcome something other-worldly in order to survive. Horror stories can also include things like ghosts and paranormal creatures. Horror has its roots in Gothic horror with the first Gothic novel being published by Horace Wolpole in 1764 entitled, The Castle of Otranto.
This genre is faced-paced with high tension. The protagonist is usually trying to achieve something against the clock while being in physical danger. There are daring physical acts like fight scenes and car chases and ultimately a big climax where everything is resolved.
5. Science Fiction
These are stories that are set in new worlds, either in the past or the future, or in a time that we cannot yet conceptualise. Stories are based on complex scientific concepts. Much time and research is needed in writing a story in this genre to perfect the technical details and the jargon.
Whereas Science Fiction deals with universes, Fantasy usually deals with kingdoms. Settings include ancient historical periods. The worlds can also be filled with other-worldly concepts like magic and myths.
A crime has been committed and must be solved by the end of the story, the identity of the criminal eventually revealed. Tension is created by the dropping of clever clues throughout the piece, which also helps the reader feel like a part of the story because they can play along and try to solve the crime as well.
These are stories in which real, important figures from history are portrayed as fictional characters. They take place during a real time in history. Much research is needed to get the details of the time period and characterisation on point for this genre.
The tone of this piece is amusing or satirical in nature and usually there is a cheerful or happy ending. There are many sub genres to Comedy including Romantic Comedy, Sentimental Comedy, Satire and Tragicomedy.