You wrote your manuscript, now it’s time to figure out how to categorize it. Choose a genre or two, as well as a couple sub-genres. Don’t tag everything! Limit yourself to only two otherwise it will appear you don’t know what type of book you’ve written.
• The category or categories in which your book will be labelled; an artistic endeavour with a particular form, content, or technique.
• A subcategory within a particular genre. Example: SF/F novel with a romance sub genre.
A list of book GENRES and SUB-GENRES in Fiction and Non-fiction and their acronyms (if applicable):
• ACTION AND ADVENTURE
o Main storyline involves an exciting undertaking involving risk and physical danger.
o Also: A/A or ACT., ADV.
o A written account of a person’s life written by that person; a story a person writes about themselves.
o Also: AUTO
o A detailed description of someone’s life especially their experiences of life events like education, work, relationships, and death; written by another person.
o Also: BIO
o Stories, books, magazines, and poems enjoyed by children.
o Also: JUVENILE LITERATURE
• COMMERCIAL FICTION
o Novels that fall into a typical genre; the protagonist does the work to tell the story; it aims to entertain; writing style is clean and pared-down; main character is usually likeable to the reader.
o Also: CF, COMM. FICT.
• CONTEMPORARY FICTION
o Stories set in modern times that don’t have elements of fantasy; “contemporary” used to distinguish this type of fiction from realistic fiction with a historical setting; used to show what it would be like to be in someone else’s shoes; a look into an everyday experience.
o Also: CONTEMP. FICT., CF (not to be confused with commercial fiction)
o Type of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone which focuses on in-depth development of realistic characters who deal with realistic emotional struggles.
o Also: D or DR
o Uses magic or other supernatural elements as a main plot element, theme, or setting; imaginary world with magical creatures; generally, but not restricted to, staying away from science fiction or horror themes; sub genre of speculative fiction.
o Also: F
o Intends or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle their readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror; sub genre of speculative fiction; supernatural or non-supernatural; often the central menace can be interpreted as a metaphor for the larger fears of a society.
o Also: H
• LITERARY FICTION
o Fictional works that hold literary merit; critically acclaimed; serious; complex; multi-layered novels that wrestle with universal dilemmas; the reader does the work to find the “story”; writing style takes more risks; aims to reveal the human condition; toys with genre precepts.
o Also: LF
• MAGIC REALISM
o An acceptance of magic in the rational world.
o Also: MAGICAL REALISM, MARVELOUS REALISM
o An investigator or detective (professional or amateur) investigates a crime, often murder; each suspect must have credible motive and a reasonable opportunity for committing the crime; CRIME FICTION and DETECTIVE FICTION are sub genres.
o Also: M or MYST.
o In fiction: an account of connected events; a story.
o In non-fiction: text that presents a true story written in a style similar to a work of fiction; also known as creative non-fiction.
o Revolves around the paranormal and paranormal occurrences.
o Also: P or PARA
o Mass-market literary genre whose main focus is on relationships and romantic love between two people usually followed with an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
o Also: R or ROM.
o Attempt at humour by ridiculing vices, follies, shortcomings with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society to improve upon it; uses wit to draw attention to particular or wider issues in society.
• SCIENCE FICTION
o Speculative fiction dealing with imaginative concepts like futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, parallel universes, and extra-terrestrial life; explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations; sub genre of speculative fiction.
o Also: SF, SCIENCE FICT.
• THRILLER or SUSPENSE
o Characterized by the heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, anxiety, surprise, and anticipation it creates in the reader; keep the reader on the “edge of their seat”; uses literary devices such as red herrings, plot twists, and cliff hangers a lot; usually villain driven plot which a protagonist must overcome.
o Also: T or TH or THRILL or SUSP.
• UPMARKET FICTION
o Fiction that blends the line between commercial and literary.
o Also: UF
• WOMENS FICTION
o Books marketed toward female readers; includes mainstream novels, romantic fiction, “chick lit.”, and other sub genres; commercial fiction about a woman experiencing a life change and personal growth.
o Also: WF, Chick Lit., WOMENS FICT.
So you’ve chosen what type of book you’ve written, now it’s time to figure out for whom you’ve written.
Who’s Your Audience?
Children: see definition of CHILDRENS under the genres listed above.
• Novels characterized by the type of conflict encountered by the main character.
• Themes range from friendship to school situations to relationships with siblings and peers, characters learn how they fit into their own world.
• Readers are beginning to learn who they are and what they think and the novel reflects those emotions and experiences.
• Also: MG
• A developing genre with protagonists in the 18-30 age range.
• St. Martin’s Press coined the term in 2009.
• Fiction similar to Young Adult that is published and marketed for adults; an older YA or ‘new adult’.
• Focuses on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.
• Also: NA
• Written, published, or marketed fiction for young adults between 12 and 18.
• Problem novels or coming of age novels.
• Story lines consistent with those young adults experience at this age such as friendship, love, race, money, divorce, relationships within families.
• Also: YA
• Fiction written, published, and marketed for adults aged 18+.
• Explicit content and strong language; deal with “adult” and mature experiences like drugs and sex in graphic detail.
• Also: A
And if you’re wondering about the length of your novel for each audience, here are a couple photos to give you a rough idea of how long your novel should be.
Need more info on each genre? Follow Book Riot on Facebook and read their post called “Fiction 101” http://bookriot.com/2016/06/21/fiction-genres-101-field-guide-uncertainty/
Until next time.
Happy Reading and Writing!