I’ve been doing this writing thing just long enough to notice that any time I encounter another writer for the first time, aside from the usual bio info exchanged, the most common question is, “What genre do you write?” After a few of these exchanges, I quickly realized that I didn’t know the different genres as well as I thought I did. Genresofliterature.com offers a nice concise list and brief definition of the different genres currently defined*.
Factual writing. Writings that convey factual information and are not primarily works of the creative imagination.
Example: History of The American Economy (textbook)
Also referred to as creative nonfiction, literary journalism and fact based story telling, adapting some of the features of fiction (creating a narrative persona, setting scenes, presenting interesting characters, creating the look and feel of a setting, telling a story) to the purposes of journalism.
Example: Prince Harry Ending US Visit With Conn Polo Match (news article)
Short nonfiction prose piece; an short analytic, descriptive or interpretive piece of literary or journalistic prose dealing with a specific topic, especially from a personal and unsystematic viewpoint.
Example: Boyhood Dream Came True A Czech Taxidermists Success Story (Photo Essay)
An account of somebody’s life written or produced by another person
Example: Audrey In Rome (Audrey Hepburn’s life story as told by Lucca Dotti, Ludovica Damiani and Sciascia Gambaccini)
An account of somebody’s life written by that person
Example: My Beloved World (Sonia Sotomayor’s life story as told by Sonia Sotomayor)
The ability to speak. The act of communicating by speaking
Example: The Gettysburg Address
Literary works of imagination. Novels and stories that describe imaginary people and events.
Example: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A serious play written for performance on stage, television or radio.
Example: Romeo and Juliet
Literary works written in verse, in particular, verse writing in high quality, great beauty, emotional sincerity or intensity or profound insight.
Example: The Raven
The creative power of the imagination. Commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element, theme or setting.
Example: The Princess Bride
Writings and other material designed to make people laugh. The quality or content of something that elicits amusement or laughter.
Example: Sh*t My Dad Says
A short story with a moral, especially one in which the characters are animals. A story about supernatural, mythological or legendary characters or events.
Example: The Tortoise and the Hare
A story for children about fairies or other imaginary beings and events, often containing a moral message.
Example: Snow White
Fiction based on futuristic science. Fiction based on science, usually set in the future, that deals with imaginary scientific and technological developments and contact with other worlds.
A work of prose fiction that is shorter than a novel.
Example: The Tell-Tale Heart
Resembling or simulating real life. Interested in, concerned with or based on what is real or practical.
Example: Because of Winn-Dixie
Traditional stores and explanations passed down in a community or country.
Example: Paul Bunyan
Narratives that take place in the past and are characterized chiefly by an imaginative reconstruction of historical events and personages.
Example: Johnny Tremain
Something that causes a very strong feeling of fear shock or disgust.
Example: The Shining
An exaggerated, unreliable story.
Example: Pecos Bill
A story that has been passed down for generations, especially one that is presented as history but is unlikely to be true.
Example: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
An event or situation that is difficult to fully understand or explain. Typically a detective or crime novel.
Example: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
A group of myths belonging to a particular people or culture that tell about their ancestors, heroes, gods and other supernatural beings and history.
Example: The Lightning Thief
Fiction in Verse
Full length novels with plot, subplots, themes, with major and minor characters. The narrative is usually presented in blank verse (unrhymed poetry)
Example: The Cat in the Hat
The list provided by genresofliterature.com is only the tip of the iceberg. Within each of the genres listed above, are several subgenres that define a work of literature at a more granular level. It is also possible for a single piece to fall into multiple categories.
Do you have a favorite genre to write? How about a favorite genre for reading? Are they the same?
*Unless otherwise specified by a link, all definitions obtained from Bing Dictionary