FiYoShiMo Day 4: Genre

Welcome back! How’s your FiYoShiMo going?

Wow, that good/bad, huh?

Ready for today?

Today’s topic is Genre, and for something we talk about a lot, you’d be surprised how few people actually know what it is. So let’s start with a definition.

Genre is a category of media based on stylistic criteria. In simpler language, a genre is a group stuff that share common elements.

Have you ever seen the list of genres? No? Here you go then, straight from my 1990s notebook:

Drama – stories where conflicts and emotion are expressed through dialogue and action

Classic – fiction that has become part of an accepted literary canon, big deal in schools

Comic/Graphic Novel – scripted fiction told visually in artist drawn pictures, usually in panels and featuring speech bubbles

Crime/Detective – fiction about a committed crime or a crime to be committed, how the criminal gets hunted or caught, and the repercussions of the crime

Fable – narration demonstrating a useful truth, especially in which animals speak as humans; often a legendary or supernatural tale

Fairy tale – story about fairies or other magical creatures, usually aimed at children

Fanfiction – fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.

Fantasy – fiction with otherworldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality

Fiction narrative – literary works whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact (real life with a twist)

Fiction in verse – full-length novels with plot, subplot(s), theme(s), major and minor characters, in which the narrative is presented in verse form (usually free verse) (note: can be whiny and angsty)

Folklore – the songs, stories, myths, and proverbs of a people or “folk” as handed down by word of mouth; supports an oral tradition

Historical fiction – story with fictional characters and events in a historical setting, or an element out-of-time (Uzis in Rome)

Horror – fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread and sometimes fear in both the characters and the reader (Gothic variant: More focus on atmosphere than direct action)

 Humor – fun fiction meant to entertain and sometimes cause laughter; elements found in any genres, skewed through wordplay or perspective

Legend – story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, that has a basis in fact but also includes imaginative material; amplified reality for sake of hyperbole or attention

Magical Realism  – story where magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise realistic environment

Metafiction – also known as romantic irony in Romantic literature, uses self-reference to draw attention to itself as a work of art, while exposing the “truth” of a story; can verge on satire

Mystery – this is fiction dealing with the solution of a crime or the unraveling of secrets/conspiracy

Mythology – traditional narrative, often based on historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural phenomena via symbolism; involves pantheon/deity as social reinforcement for behavior (intense version of Fable)

Mythopoeia – this is fiction where characters from religious mythology, traditional myths, folklores and history are recast into a re-imagined realm created by the author. (Let’s pretend Zeus gets his oil changed…)

Realistic fiction – story that is true to life (but it’s still fiction)

Romance – story centering on the emotional relationship(s) between characters, regardless of exterior dressing (setting, other genres)

Science fiction – story based on impact of actual, imagined, or potential science, usually set in the future or on other planets

Short story – brief fiction that supports no subplots

Suspense/Thriller – fiction about harm about to befall a person or group and the attempts made to evade the harm

Tall tale – humorous story with blatant exaggerations, swaggering heroes do the impossible with ease/nonchalance

Western – set in the American Old West frontier and typically set in the late eighteenth to late nineteenth century

Is that the be-all, end-all list? No, I’m sure there’s one or two not accounted for, but I’m satisfied with that list about two dozen years later.

Today’s question for you is this –> Look at your MS. What genre is it? Use these definitions and figure it out. Sure, you’re maybe straddling some fences because you’ve got a little of this and some of that genre melding together (mysteries often blend with crime/detective, nearly anything can be a short story)

If you need some structure, have this:

1. It’s ideal if you can get your MS identified by 1 genre, maybe 2, but try to figure out what genre covers the majority of it.
2. Write the genre down somewhere, it’ll come back throughout this month.

Short and simple today. Tomorrow we look at Theme. See you then.

Posted by johnadamus


Would you consider Romance its own genre? Or a sub-genre of one of the other genres you’ve listed?

Would you consider Romance its own genre? Or a sub-genre of one of the other genres you’ve listed?

Holy shit, I forgot Romance. Lemme go fix that.

Holy shit, I forgot Romance. Lemme go fix that.

Ha, I got my genre, it’s not KINDA anything 🙂 Tone is harder though…

Ha, I got my genre, it’s not KINDA anything 🙂 Tone is harder though…

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