06-23-18 Robin Weaver – My Crazy Road to Romantic Suspense Publishing

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Writing Genres - Susan Horsnell


Genre is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or entertainment, e.g. music, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria.

Genres are formed by conventions that change over time as new genres are invented and the use of old ones are discontinued.

Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions.

These are just a few different genres:


An action story is similar to adventure, and the protagonist usually takes a risky turn, which leads to
desperate situations (including explosions, fight scenes, daring escapes, etc.). Action and Adventure are usually categorized together (sometimes even as "action-adventure") because they have much in common, and many stories fall under both genres simultaneously (for instance, the James Bond series can be classified as both)


An adventure story is about a protagonist who journeys to epic or distant places to accomplish something. It can have many other genre elements included within it, because it is a very open genre. The protagonist has a mission and faces obstacles to get to her destination. Also, adventure stories usually include unknown settings and characters with prized properties or features


Comedy is a story that tells about a series of funny or comical events, intended to make the audience laugh. It is a very open genre, and thus crosses over with many other genres on a frequent basis.


A crime story is about a crime that is being committed or was committed. It can also be an account of a criminal's life. It often falls into the Action or Adventure genres.


A fantasy story is about magic or supernatural forces, rather than technology, though it often is made to include elements of other genres, such as science fiction elements, for instance computers or DNA, if it happens to take place in a modern or future era.

Historical Fiction

A story that takes place in the real world, with real world people, but with several fictionalized or dramatized elements. This may or may not crossover with other genres; for example, fantasy fiction or science fiction may play a part, as is the case for instance with the novel George Washington's Socks, which includes time travel elements.


A horror story is told to deliberately scare or frighten the audience, through suspense, violence or
shock. The supernatural variety is occasionally called "dark fantasy", since the laws of nature must be violated in some way, thus qualifying the story as "fantastic"


Although normally associated with the crime genre, mystery fiction is considered a completely different genre in certain circumstances where the focus is on supernatural mystery (even if no crime is involved). This distinction was common in the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, where titles such as Dime Mystery, Thrilling Mystery and Spicy Mystery offered what at the time were described as "weird menace" stories – supernatural horror in the vein of Grand Guignol. This contrasted with parallel titles of the same names which contained conventional hardboiled crime fiction. The first use of "mystery" in this sense was by Dime Mystery, which started out as an ordinary crime fiction magazine but switched to "weird menace" during the latter part of 1933. There are also subgenre mysteries like puzzle mysteries.


Traditionally, a romance story involves chivalry, adventure and love. In modern writing, a story about character's relationships, or engagements (a story about character development and interpersonal relationships rather than adventures). It has produced a wide array of subgenres, the majority of which feature the mutual attraction and love of a man and a woman as the main plot, and have a happy ending. This genre, much like fantasy fiction, is broad enough in definition that it is easily and commonly seen combined with other genres, such as comedy, fantasy fiction, realistic fiction, or action-adventure.


Urban fiction, also known as Street lit, is a literary genre set, as the name implies, in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the race and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban fiction is usually dark, focusing on the underside. Profanity (all of George Carlin's seven dirty words and urban variations thereof), sex and violence are usually explicit, with the writer not shying away from or watering-down the material. In this respect, urban fiction shares some common threads with dystopian or survivalist fiction. Often statements derogatory to white people (or at least what is perceived as the dominant Eurocentric culture and power structure) are made, usually by the characters. However, in the second wave of urban fiction, some variations of this model have been seen.

Until Next Month
Stay Safe, Good Reading

Susan Horsnell
Western Romance Author


Judith Ashley said...

Interesting post, Sue. Learned something about evolution of mysteries and urban which I've not yet read. Where would you place 'steampunk'? under fantasy?

Sarah Raplee said...

An interesting breakdown, Sue. There are so many sub-genres and cross-genre mashups evolving at any given time! Cozy mysteries, urban fantasies, post-apocolyptic romances, humorous horror - and what we writers like to call 'with _____ elements', as in "a romantic suspense novel with paranormal elements."

I love to read and write stories that are new and different.

Paty Jager said...

This is a good general list for people. There are many writers and readers who don't understand there are genres. They just read what they like and don't pay attention.