Fiction Writing Genres Explained

Western
Maybe you’d like to write about how the West was really won. Two time frames to consider in this category. Most Westerns are set after the Civil War period. But you can also have Modern Westerns. And in the West, you’ll find cowboys, Indians, lawmen, townspeople, etc. Women are also breaking new ground with a genre labeled as Women’s Westerns.

Horror/Occult
Will people turn on all the lights in their house just to read your book? If you can hear those blood-curdling screams in your head, then you must be a Horror/Occult writer. Monsters, vampires, werewolves, ghosts and other living dead or dead-dead all belong in these scary books.

Romance
These novels are mainly geared towards women. They usually involve sex but not as elaborate as the Erotic genre. Several subcategories fall into the Romance genre. There’s Contemporary, which is a period piece. Gothic usually highlights an inexperienced girl living in an old house or castle. She’s pursued by an evil man but is rescued by a handsome prince, so-to-speak. Historical Romances now include the Bodice-Ripper subgenre, where relations can get quite rough.

Action/Adventure/Thriller
You’re mainly looking at a fast-paced novel. A hero. A villain. Both the hero and the villain are seeking the same goal. Most take place in an exotic setting.

Mystery
This genre also includes Crime, Detective and Caper novels. Most involve the crime of murder. Chapters are spent trying to solve the murder. Some of these just have crime. Breaking these categories down even further, you’ll find clues, hard-boiled action or even romances within the story line in Detective and Mystery novels.

Young Adult
Publishers can break the Young Adult genre down into Sci-Fi, Thriller, Mystery, etc. The primary goal is to have a protagonist that’s the same age as the intended audience. Young Adult usually ranges in ages from 12 to 18 and sometimes in the early 20s.

Understanding these different genres helps you focus on a specific group so you can become the next Judith Krantz, Stephen King, Judy Blume, John Grisham – no matter what you write!