The category or kind of story it is. Usually used for stories, books, TV shows, and movies
The word “genre” just means “kind” or “type” but it is a special word usually used for types of stories, such as in books, TV shows, or movies. I am only going to talk about written story genres here.
The reason for talking about genre is that it is an easy way to describe a story. For instance, if we say that a story is a “fantasy”, we can imagine a story with magic, creatures like unicorns or dragons, or other things you don’t see in real life. Even though every story is different, it gives us a way to put them into categories.
How many genres are there?
There are some big genres, but there is no set list. For one thing, people make up new genres sometimes and sometimes others become less popular.
For instance, you could say “zombie story” is a kind of fantasy genre since there are many zombie stories now, although 50 years ago, there were almost none. On the other hand, there used to be many western stories 60-70 years ago. They all had cowboys and Indians and took place in the western United States in the 1800’s. But they are not very popular these days.
This is a list of the some of the popular fiction genres you might read. There are many others too.
As I said above, fantasy stories are ones that have something magical in them, either magic powers or magical creatures like unicorns, dragons, trolls, etc. They could happen in a place with castles and low technology, or they could happen today.
Example: the Harry Potter series
These are usually stories that take place in the future and might have to do with space, robots, time travel, or other things we don’t have today. It is similar to fantasy, although while fantasy stories use magic, science fiction uses technology to do cool things.
I put these together since they are similar. They might be a story about a crime or might just be a situation where the characters don’t know something and are trying to find out. They are usually suspenseful, meaning the reader wants to keep reading to see what happens next.
Example: A Series of Unfortunate Events
These are stories with something scary in them, like monsters, ghosts or other scary things. Since horror stories try to scare you, some people do not like them.
These are stories that have to do with love, usually two people meeting and falling in love.
Example: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
This is actually a kind of science fiction genre but has been very popular for young adult stories lately. These are stories that happen in the future after some big catastrophe that destroyed the world as we know it. These stories could have high technology, like robots and flying cars or low technology like horses and spears, or a mixture of both.
Example: The Maze Runner
These are stories where there is a lot of action. The characters usually are going somewhere to find something or maybe to rescue someone. These could include war stories or superhero stories as well.
These are stories that are funny and where the main point of the story is to make the reader laugh. Any story could be funny (see next week’s Writing Corner on Tone) but for these stories, it is the main thing.
Example: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
This is not one that you will see on many lists of genres but there are many stories like this. These are stories about normal life: going to school, having a job, growing up. Nothing crazy or magical happens but they are good to read since we can relate to them. After all, our lives are normal too so probably we have some of the same experiences as the characters.
Example: Ramona Quimby, Age 8
These are stories all about sports. A common idea might be someone trying to join the team at their school or a team trying to win the championship.
Example: The Crossover
Does every story have a genre?
No. If you start to look at the stories that you like to read, you will see that sometimes they do not fall into a neat category. It is easy for a story to be more than one genre too (for example, a comedy sports story, or a fantasy romance). As I always say, writing really has no rules, just a bunch of almost-rules, so don’t think that it is necessary for every story to have a clear genre. What is important is that you write the story you want to write. If it fits into a genre, that’s fine; if not, that’s okay too.
Now it’s your turn
- When you read a story or watch a TV show or movie, think about what genre you could put it into. Does it have a genre? Does it have more than one?
- Look at a story you have written and think about the kind of story it is. Can you put it into a genre or not?
- What are your favorite genres? What are your least favorite? What do you like (or hate) about these?
If you have any questions about writing or other topics you want me to talk about in Writing Corner, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.