Fiction Genre Definitions & Genre-Relevant Article Links


A (by no means comprehensive and still under construction) list of common fiction genres with links to relevant articles. Keep in mind that in various stories or settings, any of these genres may overlap, and usually do.


Action

Stories that focus on pulse-pounding heart-gripping action! Pretty much every superhero story ever falls into the action genre, as do wuxia films.

Articles relevant to action stories and settings
Hazards & Liabilities In Hair, Costume, & Wardrobe
Basic Tips To Write Better (And More Likeable) Badasses
Tips 'N Stuff To Create, Write, & Draw Better Female Action Heroes
So You Want To Have A Powerful Or Talented Character Who Probably Won't Be Perceived As A Mary Sue?
Tips To Write Better & More Exciting Action & Fight Scenes


Comedy

Stories that place emphasis on humor and in general, try to get the audience to laugh (though whether they succeed is another matter). The Discworld series, the Monkey Island series, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series are all examples of comedies.

Articles relevant to comedy stories and settings
On Writing Comedy & Comic Relief
Basic Tips To Be Witty & Funny


Dystopian

Stories set in a country or world ruled by a powerful, oppressive government. 1984 and The Hunger Games fall into this genre.

Articles relevant to dystopian stories and settings
Tips To Build Better Post-Apocalyptic And/Or Dystopian Settings
Tips To Write & Create Better & More Believable Futures
Things Writers Should Know About Big Businesses
Creating & Writing Fictional Organizations
Villain Tips: Of Conquest, Minions, Progress, & Planning

Fantasy

A genre which incorporates fantastic elements of some kind, which are typically presented as magical or mystical in nature, rather than naturalistic. Fantasy stories that do take a more naturalistic approach may be better classed as low fantasy, or even soft science fiction. Harry Potter, Stardust, and Coraline are all examples of fantasies.

Articles relevant to high fantasy stories and settings (all apply to high, low, and urban fantasy)
Tips For Writing Better Immortal & Long-Lived Characters
Things in Speculative Fiction That Would Be Unforgiveably Offensive If Only Everyone Was Human
Basic Tips To Write Better Chosen Ones
Keeping Shapeshifters From Getting Overpowered
Things Your Fantasy Or Science Fiction Story Needs
Fantasy & Science Fiction Creature Development Questions
Tips to Create Better & More Believable Fantasy & Science Fiction Species

Fantasy, High

Stories set in a fictional old-timey land that involve a grand epic quest to overthrow a great evil, in essence. Think Lord of the Rings and The Legend of Zelda.

Articles relevant to high fantasy stories and settings
Why Stories About Dragons SUCK
Creating & Writing Fantasy Armies - Things To Keep In Mind & Consider
Tips & Ideas To Create More Believable Sword 'n Sorcery Worlds


Fantasy, Low

In contrast to high fantasy stories, low fantasies are set on Earth or worlds that, in general, work like Earth does (or did at some point, or might at some point). In contract to high fantasy where magical elements are an everyday part of life for most people, fantastic elements in low fantasy are the exception, rather than the rule.


Fantasy, Urban

Stories that include fantastical elements (eg, vampires, werewolves, fae) while taking place in a contemporary urban setting. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Mortal Instruments series are examples of urban fantasy.

Articles relevant to urban fantasy
Tips & Ideas To Write More Believable Masquerades
So You Wanna Mix Science And Magic?
Common Plotholes In Vampire Fiction


Horror

Stories intended to evoke fear and dread in audiences. A common misconception is that gore and/or supernatural elements are necessary to make a horror story, or that a story with gore and/or supernatural elements is automatically a horror story, but this is not the case. All that is necessary to make a horror story is the intent to frighten the audience.

Articles relevant to horror
Tips For Writing & Maintaining A Horror Atmosphere
More Tips For Horror
Basic Tips To Make Scarier & Better Creepypasta & Horror Creeps
Things About Death, Dying, & Murder Writers Need To Know
Tips For Writing Dark Stories, Settings, & Characters
On Creating, Building, & Keeping Suspense


Magical Girl/Bishoujo

A genre in which a girl or young woman is granted powers that assist them somehow. Part of their powerset includes transforming from their everyday, civilian identity into their magic-powered identity. The magical girl genre frequently crosses over with the superhero and/or sentai genres (eg, Sailor Moon), though not always (eg, Magical Angel Creami Mami.) It should be noted that while this genre is typically associated with Japan, there are many non-Japanese shows that fit the genre as well - American-made Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders and She-Ra: Princess of Power, and Italian-made Winx Club.


Mystery

Stories in which the drama hinges on... well, solving a mystery. The Sherlock Holmes books, the Miss Marple books, and the various CSI shows are all examples of mysteries.

Articles relevant to writing mystery stories
The Basics Of Writing A Mystery Plot
Tips To Write Better & More Believable Cover-Ups
Things About Death, Dying, & Murder Writers Need To Know


Post-Apocalyptic

Stories set in a world where some cataclysmic event took place in the past that resulted in the destruction of current governments and whatnot. Stories might be set soon after the event where characters are struggling to survive, or even generations later when things are relatively smooth again.

Articles relevant to writing post-apocalyptic stories and settings
Tips To Build Better Post-Apocalyptic And/Or Dystopian Settings
So You Want An Apocalypse/Cataclysm In Your Plot?
Tips To Write & Create Better & More Believable Futures


Romance

Stories that focus on - you guessed it! - love and relationships. This genre is so common that there's really no point in listing examples.

Articles relevant to romance stories and settings
Things To Avoid When Writing Romance Novels
Basic Tips To Write Healthy Relationships
Tips to Write & Roleplay Believable Successful Long-Term Relationships
Couple Development Questions
Are Your Characters In Love Or Just Infatuated?
More Tips For Portraying Believable, Functional, & Healthy Relationships
Yet More Tips To Portray Believable & Healthy Friendships & Romances

Sentai (English: "task force" or "squadron")

A superhero subgenre originating in Japan, it involves a team of five heroes (usually chosen by an external power at more or less the same time) that transform (either magically or otherwise) from their civilian identities to their superhero identities. There won't be any doubt that the members of a sentai team are indeed a team - while their uniforms will typically be different colors, their overall design will make it clear that the group belongs together. Think along the lines of Super Squadron (remade as Power Rangers in the US).


Science Fiction

Frequently shortened to "sci-fi," the science fiction genre is a subgenre of the Speculative Fiction genre wherein the fantastic elements of the story are supposed to be scientific, or at the very least naturalistic in nature. Star Trek is part of the science fiction genre.

Articles relevant to science fiction stories and settings (all apply to both hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi)
Things Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Should Know About Science
Basic Tips To Write Better Geniuses, Scientists, & Intellectuals
Things in Speculative Fiction That Would Be Unforgiveably Offensive If Only Everyone Was Human
Tips For Writing Better Immortal & Long-Lived Characters
Basic Tips To Create More Believable Sci-Fi & Fantasy Religions & Belief Systems
Things Your Fantasy Or Science Fiction Story Needs
Fantasy & Science Fiction Creature Development Questions
Tips to Create Better & More Believable Fantasy & Science Fiction Species
Things To Know If Your Character Will Be Augmented Or Experimented Upon


Science Fiction, Hard

Hard science fiction emphasizes scientific accuracy (insofar as it can be accurate, based on what we know at the time) and attention to scientific detail. There is also a large focus on the implications of advanced technology and what it can do or what it means for humanity. Examples of hard sci-fi include Contact and 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Science Fiction, Soft

Soft science fiction, while generally running on the premise that everything (or at least, most things) in the universe runs on naturalistic causes, tends to put scientific accuracy on the back burner. Instead, character or political drama and/or adventure takes the center stage. Logan's Run, the Iron Man films, Star Trek, and Doctor Who are all examples of soft sci-fi.


Speculative Fiction

Often shortened to "SF," "speculative fiction" is a broad term that encompasses all forms of science fiction, fantasy, and everything that isn't quite either. For example, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Batman, and Doctor Who all belong to the speculative fiction genre.


Superhero

A genre which is typically set in a world very close to our own, and focuses on individuals with exceptional skills and abilities who fight against those who would bring harm to others. Superman and Spider-Man are two good examples. The superhero genre often includes elements of science fiction and fantasy, often as a way to explain why the superheroes have their abilities. That said, some superheroes (such as Batman) don't have any superhuman abilities per se, but instead rely on being exceptionally good at skills that exist in the real world.

Articles relevant to writing superhero stories and settings
Tips To Write Better & More Exciting Action & Fight Scenes
Basic Tips To Write Better (And More Likeable) Badasses
Tips 'N Stuff To Create, Write, & Draw Better Female Action Heroes
Tips & Ideas To Make Better & More Interesting Powers
Things To Know If Your Character Will Be Augmented Or Experimented Upon
On Writing & Roleplaying Characters Who Are Good Leader Material
On Writing & Roleplaying Characters Who Are Competent Tacticians
Things Writers Get Wrong About Bladed Weapons
Hazards & Liabilities In Hair, Costume, & Wardrobe
Assassins: Tips & Guidelines To Write & Play Them More Believably
Creating & Writing Fictional Organizations



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