- Teaching & Learning Home
- Career Technical Education
- Business & Marketing
- Health Careers Education
- Industrial & Technology Education
- Standards & Framework
- Work Experience Education (WEE)
- Curriculum and Instruction Resources
- Common Core State Standards
- Curriculum Frameworks & Instructional Materials
- Distance Learning
- Driver Education
- Multi-Tiered System of Supports
- Recommended Literature
- School Libraries
- Specialized Media
- Grade Spans
- Early Education
- P-3 Alignment
- Middle Grades
- High School
- Adult Education
- Professional Learning
- Become a Teacher
- Curriculum Areas
- Professional Standards
- Quality Schooling Framework
- Social and Emotional Learning
- Subject Areas
- Computer Science
- English Language Arts
- History-Social Science
- Physical Education
- Visual & Performing Arts
- World Languages
- Testing & Accountability Home
- California School Dashboard and System of Support
- Dashboard Alternative School Status (DASS)
- Local Educational Agency Accountability Report Card
- School Accountability Report Card (SARC)
- State Accountability Report Card
- Compliance Monitoring
- District & School Interventions
- Awards and Recognition
- Academic Achievement Awards
- California Distinguished Schools Program
- California Teachers of the Year
- Classified School Employees of the Year
- California Gold Ribbon Schools
- Assessment Information
- CA Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP)
- CA High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE)
- English Language Proficiency Assessments for CA (ELPAC)
- Grade Two Diagnostic Assessment
- High School Equivalency Tests (HSET)
- National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
- Physical Fitness Testing (PFT)
- Smarter Balanced Assessment System
- Finance & Grants Home
- Definitions, Instructions, & Procedures
- Indirect Cost Rates (ICR)
- Standardized Account Code Structure (SACS)
- Allocations & Apportionments
- Categorical Programs
- Consolidated Application
- Federal Cash Management
- Local Control Funding Formula
- Principal Apportionment
- Available Funding
- Funding Results
- Projected Funding
- Search CDE Funding
- Outside Funding
- Funding Tools & Materials
- Finance & Grants Other Topics
- Fiscal Oversight
- Software & Forms
- Data & Statistics Home
- Accessing Educational Data
- About CDE's Education Data
- About DataQuest
- Data Reports by Topic
- Downloadable Data Files
- Data Collections
- California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS)
- California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)
- Consolidated Application and Reporting System (CARS)
- Cradle-to-Career Data System
- Annual Financial Data
- Certificated Salaries & Benefits
- Current Expense of Education & Per-pupil Spending
- Data Governance
- Data Privacy
- Educational Data Governance (EDGO)
- Student Health & Support
- Free and Reduced Price Meal Eligibility Data
- Food Programs
- Data Requests
- School & District Information
- California School Directory
- Charter School Locator
- County-District-School Administration
- Private School Data
- Public Schools and District Data Files
- Regional Occupational Centers & Programs
- School Performance
- Postsecondary Preparation
- Specialized Programs Home
- Directory of Schools
- Federal Grants Administration
- Charter Schools
- Contractor Information
- Laws, Regulations, & Requirements
- Program Overview
- Educational Options
- Independent Study
- Open Enrollment
- English Learners
- Special Education
- Administration & Support
- Announcements & Current Issues
- Data Collection & Reporting
- Family Involvement & Partnerships
- Quality Assurance Process
- Services & Resources
- CA Equity Performance and Improvement Program
- Improving Academic Achievement
- Schoolwide Programs
- Statewide System of School Support (S4)
- Specialized Programs Other Topics
- American Indian
- Gifted & Talented Education
- Homeless Education
- Private Schools and Schooling at Home
- State Special Schools
- Learning Support Home
- Attendance Improvement
- School Attendance Review Boards
- Expanded Learning
- 21st Century Community Learning Centers
- After School Education & Safety Program
- Expanded Learning Opportunities Program
- Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
- Child Nutrition Information & Payment System (CNIPS)
- Rates, Eligibility Scales, & Funding
- School Nutrition
- Parents/Family & Community
- Clearinghouse for Multilingual Documents
- School Disaster and Emergency Management
- Learning Support Other Topics
- Class Size Reduction
- Education Technology
- Educational Counseling
- Mental Health
- Safe Schools
- School Facilities
- Youth Development
- Professional Learning Home
- Title II, Part A Resources and Guidance
- Teaching & Learning
- Recommended Literature List
Stories composed in verse or prose, usually for theatrical performance, where conflicts and emotion are expressed through dialogue and action.
Narration demonstrating a useful truth, especially in which animals speak as humans; legendary, supernatural tale.
Story about fairies or other magical creatures, usually for children.
Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality.
Narrative literary works whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.
Fiction in Verse
Full-length novels with plot, subplot(s), theme(s), major and minor characters, in which the narrative is presented in (usually blank) verse form.
The songs, stories, myths, and proverbs of a people or "folk" as handed down by word of mouth.
Story with fictional characters and events in a historical setting.
Fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread in both the characters and the reader.
Fiction full of fun, fancy, and excitement, meant to entertain; but can be contained in all genres
Story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, which has a basis in fact but also includes imaginative material.
Fiction dealing with the solution of a crime or the unraveling of secrets.
Legend or traditional narrative, often based in part on historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural phenomena by its symbolism; often pertaining to the actions of the gods.
Verse and rhythmic writing with imagery that creates emotional responses.
Story that can actually happen and is true to life.
Story based on impact of actual, imagined, or potential science, usually set in the future or on other planets.
Fiction of such brevity that it supports no subplots.
Humorous story with blatant exaggerations, swaggering heroes who do the impossible with nonchalance.
Narrative of a person's life, a true story about a real person.
A short literary composition that reflects the author's outlook or point.
Factual information presented in a format which tells a story.
Informational text dealing with an actual, real-life subject.
Public address or discourse.
- Literary Genres (this page)
- Standards, Curriculum Frameworks Instr Materials
- Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum
- Definition of MTSS
- Multi-Tiered System of Support
- All Curriculum Frameworks
- Curriculum Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions: Senate Bill 48
- ESMC Chapter Four Resources Links (added 11-Jan-2023) removed by RO --> Links to outside resources in chapter four of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. removed by RO -->
- ESMC Chapter Five Resources Links (added 11-Jan-2023) removed by RO --> Links to outside resources in chapter five of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. removed by RO -->
- ESMC Chapter Six Resources Links (added 11-Jan-2023) removed by RO --> Links to outside resources in chapter six of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. removed by RO -->
- Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Links (added 11-Jan-2023) removed by RO --> Resources links from each chapter of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. removed by RO -->
- ESMC Preface Resources Links (added 11-Jan-2023) removed by RO --> Links to outside resources in Preface of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. removed by RO -->
- ESMC Chapter Three Resources Links (added 11-Jan-2023) removed by RO --> Links to outside resources in chapter three of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. removed by RO -->
- Create a Storyboard
- My Storyboards
- Log In Log Out
Literary genres are categories of literature that are generally determined by technique, length, tone, and content. When we list literary genres in broader terms, they can be more abstract, flexible, and loosely defined. However, as we get more specific and into subcategories, the distinctions and rules of the genre become crystal clear.
What are the different literary genres? Though we may think there are several types of literary genres, there are actually only 3 genres of literature. You may be wondering, what are the three genres of literature? Poetry, drama, and prose. That’s right. All the other genre types fit into one of these three categories. Students will typically encounter these genres of literature in English for most of what they read and write about in school. Therefore, they must be able to identify examples of genres in literature, know their key characteristics, and list the genres of literature.
Keep reading to learn more about the different literary genres examples, along with ways for students and teachers to storyboard their forms of literature examples. In the genres of literature chart below, each of the storyboards and examples can be copied and used in an assignment with your students.
Literary Genres Examples
Here are some literary genres examples for you to check out. Different literary genres have various purposes. As you read through these examples, notice how the techniques, lengths, tones, and contents change.
The genre of literature can be classified in many ways. In this section, we will take a closer look at 3 genres of literature: poetry, drama, and prose. Understanding literary genres in English literature will not only enhance your students’ reading experience but improve their writing skills too.
Types of Literary Genres
Poetry is a genre of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre — to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the literal or mundane meaning. Poetry has a very long history, dating back to prehistoric times with the creation of hunting chants and burial songs.
Poetry is considered by many to be the most intense literature genre. It allows a writer to express their deepest emotions and thoughts in a very personal way. It relies heavily on figurative language, rhythm, and imagery to relay its message to readers. Poetry is a type of writing that uses beautiful language to express deep thoughts and feelings. Poetry can help you understand your emotions and thoughts better, and it also helps you learn how to write more expressively.
Sub-Genres of Poetry
- Songs and Ballads
Drama is a mode of fictional representation through dialogue and performance. It is one of the kinds of literature which includes epic poetry, lyric poetry, and novel. Aristotle’s Poetics defines drama as “a representation of an action that is whole and complete and has a beginning, a middle, and an end.”
Drama is often performed on stage in front of a live audience, but it can also be presented in other forms, such as radio, film, and television. It is usually written by a playwright, although it can be adapted from other sources, such as novels, short stories, poems, or even real-life events. Or it can be read silently by individuals too.
It contains dialogue, and actors impersonate the characters. It is usually divided into acts or scenes and relies on props or imaginative dialogue to create a visual experience for the audience. Drama is a good place to start, as they are usually pretty easy to understand at face value and captivates the audience with cliffhangers and mind-capitulating events.
Sub-Genres of Drama
The prose is a form of language that has no formal metrical structure. It applies a natural flow of speech, and ordinary grammatical structure, rather than rhythmic structure, such as in the case of traditional poetry. The prose is typically written in paragraphs, although there are some exceptions, such as in the case of drama or fiction.
Prose can be found in books, magazines, newspapers, online articles, blogs, etc. It is the most common form of writing. Examples of famous works of prose include To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee & Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. The prose is simple, straightforward language. It can be either fiction or nonfiction . The prose is typically divided into paragraphs, and it uses regular grammar. It can be either serious or funny.
Fiction is narrative writing that originates from the author’s imagination. It is designed to entertain, but it can also inspire, inform, or persuade.
Sub-Genres of Fiction
- Short Story
- Myths and Legends
- Historical Fiction
Nonfiction is writing that is based on true events, people, places, and facts. It is designed to inform, and sometimes to entertain.
Sub-Genres of Nonfiction
- Diaries and Journals
- Narrative Nonfiction
What Are the Three Genres of Literature?
The main examples of genres in literature are poetry, drama, and prose. Poetry is a genre in literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning. Drama is a mode of fictional representation through dialogue and performance. The prose is a form of language that has no formal metrical structure. It applies a natural flow of speech and ordinary grammatical structure, rather than rhythmic structure, such as in the case of traditional poetry. Genres of literature in English then fall into subcategories, which make up the three genres of literature.
Forms of literature examples are:
- Poetry: Ballads, Lyric, Epic, Dramatic, Narrative
- Drama: Tragedy, Comedy, History, Melodrama, Musical
- Prose: Fiction (Novel, Novella, Short Story), Nonfiction (Autobiography, Biography, Essay)
Genres of Literature Chart
Genre types subcategories can be explained as the following:
Literature types and genres are essential to know to understand all the different types of written works available. Each type has its own purpose and style. Whether you’re looking for a light read or something more heavy and informative, there’s definitely a literary genre out there for you.
A Note About Speeches...
While not one of the primary genres of literature, speeches are important historical documents or moments and literature, and they don’t always fit neatly into one of the three primary genre categories. A speech is a formal address given to an audience. Speeches can be found in prose, drama, and poetry, and their primary goals are to persuade, inform, demonstrate, or entertain a reader, an audience, or other characters. They can also be used in nonfiction or fiction, depending on their purpose and use.
Why Use Storyboarding to Learn About Literary Genres Types?
Storyboarding is the perfect way to learn and remember the different genres of literature. When you storyboard, you can visually see how each literary genre differs from the next. You can also track and compare the subcategories within genres, identify key characteristics of each, and even explore the relationships between genres. All of this will help you better understand and remember the genres of literature, making it easier to identify them when you encounter them in your reading.
How Can Storyboard That Enhance the Learning Experience of the Three Genres of Literature?
Storyboard That can help students better understand the three genres of literature by providing a visual representation of each one. By storyboarding, students can identify key characteristics of each genre and see how they differ from one another. Additionally, Storyboard That is a great way to compare and contrast genres, as well as explore the relationships between them. All of this will help students better remember the genres of literature and be able to identify them when they encounter them in their reading.
Looking to add a little creative flair to your literature class? Check out Storyboard That’s easy-to-use, online storyboard creator! With our drag-and-drop software, you can create engaging, visually appealing graphic organizers to help your students learn about the different genres of literature. Plus, our easy-to-use tools make it simple to add text, images, and multimedia content to your storyboards, so you can really bring your lessons to life.
Where to Start When Learning About Literary Genres
If you’re just starting to learn about literary genres, the best place to begin is with the three primary genres: prose, drama, and poetry. These genres are the foundation for all other genres of literature, so it’s crucial to have a strong understanding of them before moving on to anything else.
In terms of choosing between the three, poetry tends to be the most complicated to understand as it can go against the usual laws of grammar. There are a lot of deeper meanings within poetry, so it can be hard to break down as a newbie. Start with some short, simple prose articles such as newspaper pieces and short novels.
When you start to get the underlying meanings behind the prose, you can then start to dive into some simple drama. Look into Greek tragedies and Shakespearean plays, as they are a great starting point. These genres will give you a better understanding of the basics before progressing on to more.
When you’re ready to go deeper, poetry is the next stepping stone. Children’s poetry is a great starting point to give you a good foundation of poetic structure and meaning. Then you can go further into complicated poetry, such as that of the Elizabethans and Victorians.
Once you feel comfortable with the three primary genres, you can start exploring the many subgenres that exist within each one. There are endless possibilities when it comes to literary genres, so there’s no need to rush.
Reading Material to Start With
Start with article number one and work your way down the list. When you are happy you understand each article within the genre, move on to the next set of articles.
- A Washington Post Newspaper Report of Hurricane Ian
- The short story called "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe
- The historical fiction novel by Christopher Paul Curtis: Bud, Not Buddy .
- "The Miracle Worker" by William Gibson
- The famous play by the one and only William Shakespeare, “Romeo & Juliet”
- "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller
- "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
- "A Poison Tree" by William Blake
- "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
How to Get a Deeper Understanding
To get a deeper meaning of each genre, get your pen and paper ready and start to highlight the key ideas throughout. It can help to get your understanding of the writings by doing a summary for each one. Once you have done this, start to think about the following key things for each genre:
- What is the author’s purpose?
- Who is the audience?
- What are the main ideas?
- How does the structure help to emphasize the purpose?
- What literary devices are used and why?
- How does the author’s style contribute to the meaning of the text?
Plays can be trickier as you cannot always rely on the written word to give you all the information. This is where watching a performance of the play can come in handy, as it will give you a much better understanding. In addition to the above, when watching a play, you should also be thinking about:
- How does the stagecraft contribute to the meaning of the play?
- What do the costumes and makeup tell us about the characters?
- How does the lighting help to create mood and atmosphere?
- What do the sound effects and music add to the play?
When reading poetry, it is essential to think about both the literal and figurative meanings of the words. This can be difficult at first, but there are some helpful strategies that you can use. For example, you can try reading the poem aloud or reading it multiple times. You can also look up words you don’t understand and try to break the poem down into smaller chunks. In addition to the above, when reading poetry, you should also be thinking about:
- What is the speaker’s tone?
- What is the poem's mood?
- What are the main themes of the poem?
- How does the poet use literary devices to create meaning?
- What is the poem’s form, and how does it contribute to the meaning?
Using a storyboard exercise like StoryBoard That can be helpful when trying to understand the genres. You can map out the key ideas and events for each one, as well as the literary devices that are used. This is a great way to see the genres side-by-side, compare and contrast them and visualize things better.
- Picture Encyclopedia of Literary Genres
- Picture Encyclopedia of Literary Elements
- Elements of an Epic
- The Five Act Play Structure
Frequently Asked Questions about Literary Genres
What are the main types of literary genres.
The three main types of literary genres are prose, drama, and poetry. Believe it or not, all types of literature fall into one of these categories, including fiction and nonfiction!
What are some examples of different types of fiction?
Some well known types of fiction are: mystery, realistic fiction, historical fiction, fables and fairy tales, poetry, adventure, and science fiction.
What are some examples of different types of nonfiction?
Some common types of nonfiction are biographies, autobiographies, speeches, letters, and informational texts.
Privacy And Security
Each version of Storyboard That has a different privacy and security model that is tailored for the expected usage.
All storyboards are public and can be viewed and copied by anyone. They will also appear in Google search results.
The author can choose to leave the storyboard public or mark it as Unlisted. Unlisted storyboards can be shared via a link, but otherwise will remain hidden.
All storyboards and images are private and secure. Teachers can view all of their students’ storyboards, but students can only view their own. No one else can view anything. Teachers may opt to lower the security if they want to allow sharing.
All storyboards are private and secure to the portal using enterprise-class file security hosted by Microsoft Azure. Within the portal, all users can view and copy all storyboards. In addition, any storyboard can be made “sharable”, where a private link to the storyboard can be shared externally.
We're sorry, this computer has been flagged for suspicious activity.
If you are a member, we ask that you confirm your identity by entering in your email.
You will then be sent a link via email to verify your account.
If you are not a member or are having any other problems, please contact customer support.
Thank you for your cooperation
- Featured Readings
- Children’s Literature
- Classroom Activities
- Teacher’s Corner
- Digital Learning
- Professional Development
- Subscribe today
Generic selectors Exact matches only Exact matches only Search in title Search in title Search in content Search in content Search in excerpt Post Type Selectors Hidden Hidden
The Five Main Genres of Literature
Understanding the differences between various types of literature can be difficult. Today, Vista Higher Learning is breaking down the differences to give you a crash course on the five main genres of literature.
One of the most popular genres of literature, fiction, features imaginary characters and events.
This genre is often broken up into five subgenres: fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, mystery, and science fiction.
Nonetheless, there are more than just five types of fiction, ranging from romance to graphic novels.
In fantasy, the characters or settings could not exist in the world as we know it because they require a sort of “magical” element.
The Harry Potter and Twilight series are popular examples.
Historical fiction, however, features made-up stories that accurately portray life during a particular period in history.
Examples include books such as The Da Vinci Code or The Boy in the Striped Pajamas .
Similar to historical fiction is the subgenre of contemporary fiction.
In this category, stories take place in the present day and characters encounter modern day difficulties and issues.
T he Hate U Give and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants are popular contemporary fiction novels.
Another popular subgenre of fiction is mystery. In these suspense-filled stories, characters use various clues to solve crimes or uncover a culprit.
The Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes novels are prime examples of the mystery genre.
The last subgenre of fiction is science fiction.
In these types of stories, authors and readers explore new and exciting realities made possible by imagined technologies or social changes.
Star Wars is one of the most famous examples.
Unlike fiction, nonfiction tells the story of real people and events. Examples include biographies, autobiographies, or memoirs.
Another popular category of literature, known as drama or play, is a story created specifically for a stage performance.
The most renowned author of drama was William Shakespeare—the writer of Macbeth , Hamlet , and Romeo and Juliet .
More modern plays include A Streetcar Named Desire and A Raisin in the Sun .
The fourth genre of literature is poetry. In this style of writing, words are arranged in a metrical pattern and often (though not always) in rhymed verse.
Renowned poets include e.e. cummings, Robert Frost, and Maya Angelou.
Another beloved genre of literature is folktale. Folktale, which is also referred to as mythology, tells stories of originally oral literature and are meant to pass on particular moral lessons.
These tales often have a timeless quality, dealing with common concerns that are relevant despite the time period.
Did this help you differentiate between the various types of literature? Tune into our blog for similar content in the upcoming weeks.
Read also: How to Help Students with Language Learning Anxiety
By Erika Semprun
Follow us on social networks
© 2022 All Rights Reserved
Types of Literary Genre
Have you ever felt pretty overwhelmed by all the different types of literature out there? There is a lot, but luckily they all fit under just three major genres. The rest are all sub-genres, and even the subgenres have subgenres. The three major genres are Prose, Drama, and Poetry. Now, like I said within each of these genres there are several subgenres, but before we get to those let’s go ahead and define the main genres.
First, Prose. Prose can be defined as a form of literature that follows a normal progression of conversation and syntax. Think about how you have a regular conversation with people, MOST people aren’t speaking poetically with one another. That would get annoying rather quickly.
Examples of prose include:
The News – which is the announcing of daily incidents or updates within government, culture, industry, etc.
Biography – biographies tell the story of someone’s life.
Anecdotes – which are made up by people in order to teach a lesson or illustrate a point to one’s audience.
Essay – An essay typically illustrates the thoughts of an author on a specific issue, event, or philosophy.
Oration – This is basically a speech, and caters to the intellect, emotions, and will of the audience.
Novels – a novel is generally long and narrative. It tells a story with characters, a plot, and a setting.
Short Story – a short story is exactly what it sounds like, a narrative story that is short. Like a story you could read to someone in just a short amount of time over coffee or tea. However, even though they are shorter they still contain characters, a plot, and a setting.
Fables – a fable is also a story that is passed down. A fable’s overall purpose is to teach a lesson. However, all the characters in a fable are things that can’t normally talk. A fable is about animals, plants, or forces of nature that can talk and act like humans.
Legends – legends are about real life people and what they did. Legends always have an important purpose, but the facts are always a little exaggerated to make them more interesting and exciting!
Plays plays are tell a story with scripted dialogue, but are meant to be performed on a stage with actors, vocalists, props, etc.
The next major genre we will talk about is poetry.
Poetry is a literary piece which uses rhyme, rhythm, and other styles in order to convey, strongly, a feeling or idea.
There are two main types of poetry, with several types of subtypes within each.
The two main types of poetry are lyric poetry, and narrative poetry.
Lyric poetry is a type of poetry intended to be sung with an instrument. However, the definition has expanded to just be anything that expresses the feelings and emotions of the poet.
Narrative poetry is when a very influential phenomenon or incident is being described. This may be something that happened in real life, or it could be imaginary.
Now, let’s take a look at 7 different types of lyric poetry.
First, a Corrido . A corrido is a popular type of poetry or song that typically has a measure of eight. These poems are generally about suppression, historical events, and what daily life is like for servants.
Second, an Ode . An ode has no specific structure, however, classic odes typically contained 3 big parts: The strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Odes are typically spent praising an event or individual in a very emotive and intellectual way.
Third, Elegy . This is a rather downcast type of poem. An elegy conveys feelings of sadness, heartache, and suffering. Also, it generally conveys a theme of death.
Fourth, an Awit . This generally contains four stanzas with 12-syllables in each stanzas. Awit translates to mean song. It is written with the intent of being sung. An awit tells a story, and each stanza is a grammatically correct sentence.
Fifth, Folk Songs . Folk songs are made to represent a very specific culture or region. Folk songs are typically songs that are passed down from generation to generation. These are very short poems, and can be written about pretty much anything.
Sixth, Sonnets . A sonnet adheres to a very specific form. They all contain 14 lines. Now there are different types of Sonnets, but they each follow a specific rhyme scheme and structure.
Lastly, Psalms . Psalms are a type of lyrical poetry that express thoughts and emotions in light of truth about God. Psalms are meant to extol and glorify God.
Now, onto Narrative poetry . We will take a look at three main types: Epic, ballads, and metrical tale.
First, an Epic . An epic is a classical kind of poetry that found its beginnings in Greece. Epics contain a legendary hero, like gods and goddesses. The hero contains some type of superhuman strength and valor. The action of the hero is typically spread out across multiple settings, and contains an exaggerated writing style.
The next type of Narrative poetry we’ll look at is a ballad . Now, a ballad is actually intended to be a song, but it is a type of narrative poetry, because it is driven by a plot and contains multiple characters. A ballad is broken up by 4 line stanzas, and contain a rhyming scheme. It tells a story by laying out all the crucial events in detail.
Now, lastly, before we go onto Drama, a metrical tale can be fiction or nonfiction, and can have a range of topics. Generally the topics are love, stages of life, or a longing for adventure.
Alright, now on to Drama . We will be taking a look at four different types: Farce, Melodrama, comedy, and tragedy.
Farce . A farce is written with the intent to be acted out on stage or in film. They are meant to engage the audience with embellished, exaggerated, and wildly unlikely situations. A farce incorporates a lot of physical humor; which just means that they use their bodies in a ridiculous way for laughs.
Melodrama . A melodrama is specifically written to attack the emotions. Melodramas place a heavy focus on the plot rather than the characters themselves. Often times you will see melodramas used in operas.
Comedy . Comedy has also found its origin in Greece. Comedy refers to a work that is designed to evoke laughter . It was originally used in Ancient Greece in the form of Political satire in order to sway the minds of the voters.
And for the last type of Drama, Tragedy . A tragedy is centered around various types of human suffering. Typically there is a main character who is at the top, and eventually plummets to the bottom. A tragedy is designed to evoke feelings of pity and/or fear in an audience.
Now, the different literary genres have changed over the years, and continue to change today; whether a new subcategory is added, taken away, or whatever. But anything that might be added, will fit under one of the three categories that we discussed today.
I hope that this video has been helpful. If you enjoyed it, then be sure to hit that like button, and subscribe to our channel for further videos.
See you guys next time!
Return to Reading Comprehension Videos
by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: January 13, 2023
15% discount on first order.
What are the different genres of literature - definition, types, and examples.
- Definition of Genre
- What Are the Different Genres of Literature?
- Creative Non-fiction
- Main Literary Genres
- Literary fiction
- Science Fiction
- Speculative Fiction
- Magic Realism
- Realist Literature
- Literary Genres Examples
- Literary Fiction
- Realist Literature
- Get Help with Literary Genres from CustomEssayMeister
Literature is one of the major forms of expression in our society today. Even other artistic media, such as film, are inspired by literature. Like other art forms, literature is classified into four main literary genres (and sub-genres)—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama. Students must learn the different types of literature so they would not be overwhelmed by the subjective nature of literature review writing.
Genre is a French word that means “kind” or “type.” It has been adopted by the English language to refer to types, forms, or classes of work. It is used to classify types of music and literature, for example. Here, we’ll focus on genres in literature, which cover two types of classifications. The first, the genres of literature or the different forms of literature, which are fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and play. While the second is the literary genres or the sub-classifications of literature, which include comedy, romance, science fiction, thriller, and tragedy. Read on to learn about the genres of literature and the main literary genres’ definition and examples.
There are four genres of literature. These have existed for a long time, and some started the tradition of literature. Today, these genres make up the books and various literary content you will find both online and offline. Continue below for literature genre definition and examples.
The most popular literary genre nowadays is fiction. Fiction, in literature, is any work that is created by the imagination, or in other words, not real. These stories may be based on real events or persons, but most of them have been altered. Fiction often includes novels, short stories, and novellas. More modern fiction, such as flash fiction, experiments on form and length. Fiction focuses on the narrative that transpires and the meanings ascribed to them by their authors. Here, the art of storytelling is most important, which consists of the plot, setting, character/s, conflict, and theme. Different writers have developed their specific styles, foreshadowing future events or holding back certain details as they please. For example, Anton Chekhov is renowned for stories where the plot is stagnant, but with very vivid characters.
This literary genre is the opposite of fiction, although they are very similar in terms of components and their usage of storytelling techniques. Creative non-fiction makes use of stories, people, or events that really happened. The strain for most writers of creative non-fiction is the need to be 100% true to the facts—they cannot alter any minor detail or exaggerate anything. In fact, the only detail non-fiction writers can change are the names of the characters or places to protect the people involved. Non-fiction is commonly employed by or about celebrities and political figures to shed light on a controversial event in their life or to inspire others. An example is Malala Yousafzai , who after recovering from being attacked by terrorists in her country, shared her story and her advocacy through her autobiography titled I Am Malala . Creative non-fiction includes personal narrative essays , biographies, autobiographies or memoirs, and literary journalism.
Probably the oldest literary genre, dating back to prehistoric times when poetry was still part of oral tradition. Poets like Homer told epic stories through poetry. Due to its origin in oral tradition , poetry is characterized by meter and rhyme. Think Shakespeare and Wordsworth. Over time, different styles and schools of poetry evolved. And, from having a strict meter and rhyme, contemporary poems evolved to free verse, which is characterized by their rhythm and sound. Experimental writers flock to poetry to play with structure and language.
The play is the most elusive of literary genres. Being a performance, there is no sole creator to which we can ascribe its greatness or failure. It is a collaboration between the playwright, the director, light technician, costume designer, actors, and at times even the audience. Plays primarily make use of dialogues between characters, so stage direction and acting are prominent components. In prehistoric times, play and poetry were merged, but now, although there are some overlaps, the line between the two is more clear-cut. Shakespeare is a popular playwright whose works continue to be re-staged. Today, plays continue to be staged all around the world, but another version has emerged—films, which use similar elements as plays but are executed differently.
These are the four main literary genres to guide you in reading and your literary analyses. Knowing the literary genre will make it easier for you to analyze it. If you need more help with your literary analysis , don’t hesitate to ask us.
We work 24/7 and we are affordable (from $13.95/page). Our writers, managers and support agents all have been involved in academic ghostwriting for years. We can assist even with the most difficult writing assignment under time constraints.
All the genres of literature convey a story in one way or another. Works of literature are further divided into classifications based on the type of story, the storytelling devices, the devices, elements, style, and tone that they employ. These classifications are the literary genres, which generally tell the audience what to expect from a piece of literature. Get to know these types of genres with definitions and examples.
This novel genre is considered to have high artistic value and literary merit. They often offer social commentary, political criticism, or reflections on humanity. These are often the type of novels or stories read and written about in English and Literature classes.
Mystery stories revolve around solving a mystery, often in the form of a case, a detective is solving. As such, this is also sometimes called “detective fiction.” You may recognize this genre from their extremely interesting hooks and suspenseful pace where they reveal clues or details about the case slowly to keep the reader on the edge of their seats.
Thriller stories are often confused with mystery and horror, but these genres are quite different. Thriller stories are dark, mysterious, and suspenseful. This type of story focuses on the fear of a future crime instead of one occurring or one that’s already happened. Within this genre are more sub-genres—legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, epic thrillers, and horror thrillers.
Horror fiction focuses on scaring, shocking, and sometimes repulsing the readers. Works under this genre often feature monsters, ghosts, vampires, witches, and the like, and explore themes of death, evil spirits, and the afterlife.
This genre features or revolves around fictional elements based on or inspired by science. These stories include time travel, space exploration, aliens, and futuristic technologies.
This genre falls under the speculative story genres, which means that it involves a slow raveling of a mystery, but often without the dark element. Fantasy stories usually involve imaginary characters, such as talking animals, and are set in imaginary universes that usually don’t adhere to the rules of our world.
Romantic stories focus on the romantic relationship between two people. These stories are often lighthearted, often ending positively as love conquers all. Romance novels are popular for the feeling of excitement brought about by love.
Historical novels’ stories take place in the past and sometimes revolve around historical figures. This type of fiction embellishes historical events or facts with imaginary plots, but they still do require intense research.
Western fiction tells stories of cowboys, settlers, and outlaws exploring the American Old West. Since these stories are set in the 18th and 19th centuries, these may be classified as a type of historical fiction.
Works under this genre focus on a character who grows up psychologically and morally as a naïve youth into an adult. The character goes through a profound conflict, encounters profound loss, or sets out on a journey that allows them to grow as a person in the end.
This is a supergenre that includes science fiction, fantasy, dystopian, and many more, which all ask the question “what if”. Speculative fiction is often set in a different world from ours and may involve supernatural as well as futuristic elements.
Dystopian novels became more popular in the late 2010s. This is a sub-genre of science fiction, but this type of novel is set in a world or society that is far worse than ours, ravaged by war, poverty, oppression, disease, and so on. Dystopian fiction is also often a social commentary.
Magic realism is a type of genre that depicts our world truthfully but incorporates magical elements. However, these magical elements are considered normal in the world of magical realism. This genre is often associated with Latin American authors .
This type of literature depicts a story that happens in the real world. The characters, setting, and stories appear as if they can really happen in the real world as the writer attempts to stay true to the current laws of nature.
These are the most common literary genres today. As you can see, these genres can expand into sub-genres, as well as be combined with other genres. There is really no limit here, only our generations’ writers’ creativity.
To help you gain a better understanding of the types of literature, here are some literary genre examples.
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
- This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- The Stranger by Albert Camus
- A Study in Scarlet; The Sign of the Four; The Hound of the Baskervilles; The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (The Millennium Trilogy) by Stieg Larsson
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- Hannibal Lecter Series by Thomas Harris
- The Shining by Stephen King
- Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
- The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Call Me By Your Name by Andre Acimas
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- 1984 by George Orwell
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
- Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
- The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Have you read any of these novels? Surely, you have encountered more examples of these different genres both in and outside your classes. These examples will hopefully give you a deeper understanding of the genres of literature and consequently write a great literary analysis.
Need an essay? I can help!
Literary essay is one of the hardest essays to write because of the necessity of using figurative language to match the tone and style of the literary genre. If you are one of many students who fear literary essay writing, there are other options for you. Custom essay writing is a practical option for students like you who are not skilled in writing and CustomEssayMeister provides those kinds of services. How does it work? We have professional writers who will handle your paper, you just have to place an order and we will assign you to a writer who has expertise on your paper's topic. We also make sure that the papers that will be delivered to our clients are original and custom-written because we value the integrity of our clients. If you are one of many students who need assistance, let us know and we will be more than willing to help you.
more in Writing Guides / Creative Writing
- Flash fiction Aug 15, 2018
- How to Write a Creative Essay Aug 28, 2018
- Beautifying Language 101: The 12 Literary Devices You Must Know Jun 27, 2018
- Basic literary terms Jun 23, 2018
Let’s get your assignment done!
Literary Genres: Definition and Examples of the 4 Essential Genres and 100+ Subgenres
by Joe Bunting | 1 comment
What are literary genres? Do they actually matter to readers? How about to writers? What types of literary genres exist? And if you're a writer, how do you decide which genre to write in?
To begin to think about literary genres, let's start with an example.
Let's say want to read something. You go to a bookstore or hop onto a store online or go to a library.
But instead of a nice person wearing reading glasses and a cardigan asking you what books you like and then thinking through every book ever written to find you the next perfect read (if that person existed, for the record, they would be my favorite person), you're faced with this: rows and rows of books with labels on the shelves like “Literary Fiction,” “Travel,” “Reference,” “Science Fiction,” and so on.
You stop at the edge of the bookstore and just stand there for a while, stumped. “What do all of these labels even mean?!” And then you walk out of the store.
Or maybe you're writing a book , and someone asks you a question like this: “What kind of book are you writing? What genre is it?”
And you just stare at them in frustration thinking, “My book transcends genre, convention, and even reality, obviously. Don't you dare put my genius in a box!”
What are literary genres? In this article, we'll share the definition and different types of literary genres (there are four main ones but thousands of subgenres). Then, we'll talk about why genre matters to both readers and writers. We'll look at some of the components that people use to categorize writing into genres. Finally, we'll give you a chance to put genre into practice with an exercise .
Table of Contents
Introduction Literary Genres Definition Why Genre Matters (to Readers, to Writers) The 4 Essential Genres 100+ Genres and Subgenres The 7 Components of Genre Practice Exercise
Ready to get started? Let's get into it.
What Are Literary Genres? Literary Genre Definition
Let's begin with a basic definition of literary genres:
Literary genres are categories, types, or collections of literature. They often share characteristics, such as their subject matter or topic, style, form, purpose, or audience.
That's our formal definition. But here's a simpler way of thinking about it:
Genre is a way of categorizing readers' tastes.
That's a good basic definition of genre. But does genre really matter?
Why Literary Genres Matter
Literary genres matter. They matter to readers but they also matter to writers. Here's why:
Why Literary Genres Matter to Readers
Think about it. You like to read (or watch) different things than your parents.
You probably also like to read different things at different times of the day. For example, maybe you read the news in the morning, listen to an audiobook of a nonfiction book related to your studies or career in the afternoon, and read a novel or watch a TV show in the evening.
Even more, you probably read different things now than you did as a child or than you will want to read twenty years from now.
Everyone has different tastes.
Genre is one way we match what readers want to what writers want to write and what publishers are publishing.
It's also not a new thing. We've been categorizing literature like this for thousands of years. Some of the oldest forms of writing, including religious texts, were tied directly into this idea of genre.
For example, forty percent of the Old Testament in the Bible is actually poetry, one of the four essential literary genres. Much of the New Testament is in the form of epistle, a subgenre that's basically a public letter.
Genre matters, and by understanding how genre works, you not only can find more things you want to read, you can also better understand what the writer (or publisher) is trying to do.
Why Literary Genres Matter to Writers
Genre isn't just important to readers. It's extremely important to writers too.
In the same way the literary genres better help readers find things they want to read and better understand a writer's intentions, genres inform writers of readers' expectations and also help writers find an audience.
If you know that there are a lot of readers of satirical political punditry (e.g. The Onion), then you can write more of that kind of writing and thus find more readers and hopefully make more money. Genre can help you find an audience.
At the same time, great writers have always played with and pressed the boundaries of genre, sometimes even subverting it for the sake of their art.
Another way to think about genre is a set of expectations from the reader. While it's important to meet some of those expectations, if you meet too many, the reader will get bored and feel like they know exactly what's going to happen next. So great writers will always play to the readers' expectations and then change a few things completely to give readers a sense of novelty in the midst of familiarity.
This is not unique to writers, by the way. The great apparel designer Virgil Abloh, who was an artistic director at Louis Vuitton until he passed away tragically in 2021, had a creative template called the “3% Rule,” where he would take an existing design, like a pair of Nike Air Jordans, and make a three percent change to it, transforming it into something completely new. His designs were incredibly successful, often selling for thousands of dollars.
This process of taking something familiar and turning it into something new with a slight change is something artists have done throughout history, including writers, and it's a great way to think about how to use genre for your own writing.
What Literary Genre is NOT: Story Type vs. Literary Genres
Before we talk more about the types of genre, let's discuss what genre is not .
Genre is not the same as story type (or for nonfiction, types of nonfiction structure). There are ten (or so) types of stories, including adventure, love story, mystery, and coming of age, but there are hundreds, even thousands of genres.
Story type and nonfiction book structure are about how the work is structured.
Genre is about how the work is perceived and marketed.
These are related but not the same.
For example, one popular subgenre of literature is science fiction. Probably the most common type of science fiction story is adventure, but you can also have mystery sci-fi stories, love story sci-fi, and even morality sci-fi. Story type transcends genre.
You can learn more about this in my book The Write Structure , which teaches writers the simple process to structure great stories. Click to check out The Write Structure .
This is true for non-fiction as well in different ways. More on this in my post on the seven types of nonfiction books .
Alright, now that we've addressed why genre matters and what genre doesn't include, let's start getting into the different literary genres that exist (there are a lot of them!).
How Many Literary Genres Are There? The 4 Essential Genres, and 1000+ Genres and Subgenres
Just as everyone has different tastes, so there are genres to fit every kind of specific reader.
There are four essential literary genres, and all are driven by essential questions. Then, within each of those essential genres are genres and subgenres. We will look at all of these in turn, below, as well as several examples of each.
An important note: There are individual works that fit within the gaps of these four essential genres or even cross over into multiple genres.
As with anything, the edges of these categories can become blurry, for example narrative poetry or fictional reference books.
A general rule: You know it when you see it (except, of course, when the author is trying to trick you!).
1. Nonfiction: Is it true?
The core question for nonfiction is, “Is it true?”
Nonfiction deals with facts, instruction, opinion/argument reference, narrative nonfiction, or a combination.
A few examples of nonfiction (more below): reference, news, memoir, manuals, religious inspirational books, self-help, business, and many more.
2. Fiction: Is it, at some level, imagined?
The core question for fiction is, “Is it, at some level, imagined?”
Fiction is almost always story or narrative. However, satire is a form of “fiction” that's structured like nonfiction opinion/essays or news. And one of the biggest insults you can give to a journalist, reporter, or academic researcher is that their work is “fiction.”
3. Drama: Is it performed?
Drama is a genre of literature that has some kind of performance. This includes theater, film, and audio plays.
The core question that defines drama is, “Is it performed?”
As always, there are genres within this essential genre, including horror films, thrillers, true crime podcasts, and more.
4. Poetry: Is it verse?
Poetry is in some ways the most challenging literary genre to define because while poetry is usually based on form, i.e. lines intentionally broken into verse, sometimes including rhyme or other poetic devices, there are some “poems” that are written completely in prose called prose poetry. These are only considered poems because the author and/or literary scholars said they were poems.
To confuse things even more, you also have narrative poetry, which combines fiction and poetry, and song which combines poetry and performance (or drama) with music.
Which is all to say, poetry is challenging to classify, but again, you usually know it when you see it.
Next, let's talk about the genres and subgenres within those four essential literary genres.
The 100+ Literary Genres and Subgenres with Definitions
Genre is, at its core, subjective. It's literally based on the tastes of readers, tastes that change over time, within markets, and across cultures.
Thus, there are essentially an infinite number of genres.
Even more, genres are constantly shifting. What is considered contemporary fiction today will change a decade from now.
So take the lists below (and any list of genres you see) as an incomplete, likely outdated, small sample size of genre with definitions.
1. Fiction Genres
Action/Adventure. An action/adventure story has adventure elements in its plot line. This type of story often involves some kind of conflict between good and evil, and features characters who must overcome obstacles to achieve their goals .
Chick lit. Chick Lit stories are usually written for women who interested in lighthearted stories that still have some depth. They often include romance, humor, and drama in their plots.
Comedy. This typically refers to historical stories (e.g. Shakespeare, Greek Literature, etc) that contain a happy ending, often with a wedding.
Commercial. Commercial stories have been written for the sole purpose of making money, often in an attempt to cash in on the success of another book, film, or genre.
Crime/Police/Detective Fiction. Crime and police stories feature a detective, whether amateur or professional, who solves crimes using their wits and knowledge of criminal psychology.
Drama or Tragedy. This typically refers to historical stories (e.g. Shakespeare, Greek Literature, etc) that contain a sad or tragic ending, often with one or more deaths.
Erotica. Erotic stories contain explicit sexual descriptions in their narratives.
Espionage. Espionage stories focus on international intrigue, usually involving governments, spies, secret agents, and/or terrorist organizations. They often involve political conflict, military action, sabotage, terrorism, assassination, kidnapping, and other forms of covert operations.
Family Saga. Family sagas focus on the lives of an extended family, sometimes over several generations. Rather than having an individual protagonist, the family saga tells the stories of multiple main characters or of the family as a whole.
Fantasy. Fantasy stories are set in imaginary worlds that often feature magic, mythical creatures, and fantastic elements. They may be based on mythology, folklore, religion, legend, history, or science fiction.
General Fiction. General fiction novels are those that deal with individuals and relationships in an ordinary setting. They may be set in any time period, but usually take place in modern times.
Graphic Novel. Graphic novels are a hybrid between comics and prose fiction that often includes elements of both.
Historical Fiction. Historical stories are written about imagined or actual events that occurred in history. They usually take place during specific periods of time and often include real or imaginary characters who lived at those times.
Horror Genre. Horror stories focus on the psychological terror experienced by their characters. They often feature supernatural elements, such as ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, monsters, and aliens.
Humor/Satire. This category includes stories that have been written using satire or contain comedic elements. Satirical novels tend to focus on some aspect of society in a critical way.
LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ novels are those that feature characters who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or otherwise non-heterosexual.
Literary Fiction. Literary fiction novels or stories have a high degree of artistic merit, a unique or experimental style of writing , and often deal with serious themes.
Military. Military stories deal with war, conflict, combat, or similar themes and often have strong action elements. They may be set in a contemporary or a historical period.
Multicultural. Multicultural stories are written by and about people who have different cultural backgrounds, including those that may be considered ethnic minorities.
Mystery G enre. Mystery stories feature an investigation into a crime.
Offbeat/Quirky. An offbeat story has an unusual plot, characters, setting, style, tone, or point of view. Quirkiness can be found in any aspect of a story, but often comes into play when the author uses unexpected settings, time periods, or characters.
Picture Book. Picture book novels are usually written for children and feature simple plots and colorful illustrations . They often have a moral or educational purpose.
Religious/Inspirational. Religious/ inspirational stories describe events in the life of a person who was inspired by God or another supernatural being to do something extraordinary. They usually have a moral lesson at their core.
Romance Genre. Romance novels or stories are those that focus on love between two people, often in an ideal setting. There are many subgenres in romance, including historical, contemporary, paranormal, and others.
Science Fiction. Science fiction stories are usually set in an imaginary future world, often involving advanced technology. They may be based on scientific facts but they are not always.
Short Story Collection . Short story collections contain several short stories written by the same or different authors.
Suspense or Thriller Genre. Thrillers/ suspense stories are usually about people in danger, often involving crimes, natural disasters, or terrorism.
Upmarket. Upmarket stories are often written for and/or focus on upper class people who live in an upscale environment.
Western Genre. Western stories are those that take place in the west during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Characters include cowboys, outlaws, native Americans, and settlers.
2. Nonfiction Genres
From the BISAC categories, a globally accepted system for coding and categorizing books by the Book Industry Standards And Communications group.
Antiques & Collectibles. Nonfiction books about antiques and collectibles include those that focus on topics such as collecting, appraising, restoring, and marketing antiques and collectibles. These books may be written for both collectors and dealers in antique and collectible items. They can range from how-to guides to detailed histories of specific types of objects.
Architecture. Architecture books focus on the design, construction, use, and history of buildings and structures. This includes the study of architecture in general, but also the specific designs of individual buildings or styles of architecture.
Art. Art books focus on visual arts, music, literature, dance, film, theater, architecture, design, fashion, food, and other art forms. They may include essays, memoirs, biographies, interviews, criticism, and reviews.
Bibles. Bibles are religious books, almost exclusively Christian, that contain the traditional Bible in various translations, often with commentary or historical context.
Biography & Autobiography. Biography is an account of a person's life, often a historical or otherwise famous person. Autobiographies are personal accounts of people's lives written by themselves.
Body, Mind & Spirt. These books focus on topics related to human health, wellness, nutrition, fitness, or spirituality.
Business & Economics. Business & economics books are about how businesses work. They tend to focus on topics that interest people who run their own companies, lead or manage others, or want to understand how the economy works.
Computers. The computer genre of nonfiction books includes any topics that deal with computers in some way. They can be about general use, about how they affect our lives, or about specific technical areas related to hardware or software.
Cooking. Cookbooks contain recipes or cooking techniques.
Crafts & Hobbies. How-to guides for crafts and hobbies, including sewing, knitting, painting, baking, woodworking, jewelry making, scrapbooking, photography, gardening, home improvement projects, and others.
Design. Design books are written about topics that include design in some way. They can be about any aspect of design including graphic design, industrial design, product design, fashion, furniture, interior design, or others.
Education. Education books focus on topics related to teaching and learning in schools. They can be used for students or as a resource for teachers.
Family & Relationships. These books focus on family relationships, including parenting, marriage, divorce, adoption, and more.
Foreign Language Study. Books that act as a reference or guide to learning a foreign language.
Games & Activities. Games & activities books may be published for children or adults, may contain learning activities or entertaining word or puzzle games. They range from joke books to crossword puzzle books to coloring books and more.
Gardening. Gardening books include those that focus on aspects of gardening, how to prepare for and grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, trees, shrubs, grasses, and other plants in an indoor or outdoor garden setting.
Health & Fitness. Health and fitness books focus on topics like dieting, exercise, nutrition, weight loss, health issues, medical conditions, diseases, medications, herbs, supplements, vitamins, minerals, and more.
History. History books focus on historical events and people, and may be written for entertainment or educational purposes.
House & Home. House & home books focus on topics like interior design, decorating, entertaining, and DIY projects.
Humor. Humor books are contain humorous elements but do not have any fictional elements.
Juvenile Nonfiction. These are nonfiction books written for children between six and twelve years old.
Language Arts & Disciplines. These books focus on teaching language arts and disciplines. They may be used for elementary school students in grades K-5.
Law. Law books include legal treatises, casebooks, and collections of statutes.
Literary Criticism. Literary criticism books discuss literary works, primarily key works of fiction or memoir. They may include biographies of authors, critical essays on specific works, or studies of the history of literature.
Mathematics. Mathematics books either teach mathematical concepts and methods or explore the history of mathematics.
Medical. Medical books include textbooks, reference books, guides, encyclopedias, and handbooks that focus on fields of medicine, including general practice, internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, and more.
Music. Music books are books that focus on the history, culture, and development of music in various countries around the world. They often include biographies, interviews, reviews, essays, and other related material. However, they may also include sheet music or instruction on playing a specific instrument.
Nature. Nature books focus on the natural world or environment, including natural history, ecology, or natural experiences like hiking, bird watching, or conservation.
Performing Arts. Books about the performing arts in general, including specific types of performance art like dance, music, and theater.
Pets. Pet books include any book that deals with animals in some way, including dog training, cat care, animal behavior, pet nutrition, bird care, and more.
Philosophy. Philosophy books deal with philosophical issues, and may be written for a general audience or specifically for scholars.
Photography. Photography books use photographs as an essential part of their content. They may be about any subject.
Political Science. Political science books deal with politics in some way. They can be about current events, historical figures, or theoretical concepts.
Psychology. Psychology books are about the scientific study of mental processes, emotion, and behavior.
Reference. Reference books are about any subject, topic, or field and contain useful information about that subject, topic or field.
Religion. These books deal with religion in some way, including religious history, theology, philosophy, and spirituality.
Science. Science books focus on topics within scientific fields, including geology, biology, physics, and more.
Self-Help. Self-help books are written for people who want to improve their lives in some way. They may be about health, relationships, finances, career, parenting, spirituality, or any number of topics that can help readers achieve personal goals.
Social Science. Focus on social science topics.
Sports & Recreation. Sports & Recreation books focus on sports either from a reporting, historical, or instructional perspective.
Study Aids. Study aids are books that provide information about a particular subject area for students who want to learn more about that topic. These books can be used in conjunction with classroom instruction or on their own.
Technology & Engineering. Technology & engineering nonfiction books describe how technology has changed our lives and how we can use that knowledge to improve ourselves and society.
Transportation. Focus on transportation topics including those about vehicles, routes, or techniques.
Travel. Travel books are those that focus on travel experiences, whether from a guide perspective or from the author's personal experiences.
True Crime. True Crime books focus on true stories about crimes. These books may be about famous cases, unsolved crimes, or specific criminals.
Young Adult Nonfiction. Young adult nonfiction books are written for children and teenagers.
3. Drama Genres
These include genres for theater, film, television serials, or audio plays.
As a writer, I find some of these genres particularly eye-roll worthy. And yet, this is the way most films, television shows, and even theater productions are classified.
Action. Action genre dramas involve fast-paced, high-energy sequences in which characters fight against each other. They often have large-scale battles, chase scenes, or other high-intensity, high-conflict scenes.
Horror. Horror dramas focus on the psychological terror experienced by their characters. They often feature supernatural elements, such as ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, monsters, and aliens.
Adventure. Adventure films are movies that have an adventurous theme. They may be set in exotic locations, feature action sequences, and/or contain elements of fantasy.
Musicals (Dance). Musicals are dramas that use music in their plot and/or soundtrack. They may be comedies, dramas, or any combination.
Comedy (& Black Comedy). Comedy dramas feature humor in their plots, characters, dialogue, or situations. It sometimes refers to historical dramas (e.g. Shakespeare, Greek drama, etc) that contain a happy ending, often with a wedding.
Science Fiction. Science fiction dramas are usually set in an imaginary future world, often involving advanced technology. They may be based on scientific facts but do not have to be.
Crime & Gangster. Crime & Gangster dramas deal with criminals, detectives, or organized crime groups. They often feature action sequences, violence, and mystery elements.
War (Anti-War). War (or anti-war) dramas focus on contemporary or historical wars. They may also contain action, adventure, mystery, or romance elements.
Drama. Dramas focus on human emotions in conflict situations. They often have complex plots and characters, and deal with serious themes. This may also refer to historical stories (e.g. Shakespeare, Greek Literature, etc) that contain a sad or tragic ending, often with one or more deaths.
Westerns. Westerns are a genre of American film that originated in the early 20th century and take place in the west during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Characters include cowboys, outlaws, native Americans, and settlers.
Epics/Historical/Period. These are dramas based on historical events or periods but do not necessarily involve any real people.
Biographical (“Biopics”). Biopics films are movies that focus on real people in history.
Melodramas, Women's or “Weeper” Films, Tearjerkers. A type of narrative drama that focuses on emotional issues, usually involving love, loss, tragedy, and redemption.
“Chick” Flicks. Chick flicks usually feature romantic relationships and tend to be lighthearted and comedic in nature.
Road Stories. Dramas involving a journey of some kind, usually taking place in contemporary setting, and involving relationships between one or more people, not necessarily romantic.
Courtroom Dramas. Courtroom dramas depict legal cases set in courtrooms. They usually have a dramatic plot line with an interesting twist at the end.
Romance. Romance dramas feature love stories between two people. Romance dramas tend to be more serious, even tragic, in nature, while romantic comedies tend to be more lighthearted.
Detective & Mystery. These dramas feature amateur or professional investigators solving crimes and catching criminals.
Sports. Sports dramas focus on athletic competition in its many forms and usually involve some kind of climactic tournament or championship.
Disaster. Disaster dramas are adventure or action dramas that include natural disasters, usually involving earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or other disasters.
Superhero. Superhero dramas are action/adventure dramas that feature characters with supernatural powers. They usually have an origin story, the rise of a villain, and a climactic battle at the end.
Fantasy. Fantasy dramas films are typically adventure dramas that feature fantastical elements in their plot or setting, whether magic, folklore, supernatural creatures, or other fantasy elements.
Supernatural. Supernatural dramas feature paranormal phenomena in their plots, including ghosts, mythical creatures, and mysterious or extraordinary elements. This genre may overlap with horror, fantasy, thriller, action and other genres.
Film Noir. Film noir refers to a style of American crime drama that emerged in the 1940s. These dramas often featured cynical characters who struggled, often fruitlessly, against corruption and injustice.
Thriller/Suspense. Thriller/suspense dramas have elements of suspense and mystery in their plot. They usually feature a character protagonist who must overcome obstacles while trying to solve a crime or prevent a catastrophe.
Guy Stories. Guy dramas feature men in various situations, usually humorous or comedic in nature.
Zombie . Zombie dramas are usually action/adventure dramas that involve zombies.
Animated Stories . Dramas that are depicted with drawings, photographs, stop-motion, CGI, or other animation techniques.
Documentary . Documentaries are non-fiction performances that attempt to describe actual events, topics, or people.
“Foreign.” Any drama not in the language of or involving characters/topics in your country of origin. They can also have any of the other genres listed here.
Childrens – Kids – Family-Oriented . Dramas with children of various ages as the intended audience.
Sexual – Erotic . These dramas feature explicit sexual acts but also have some kind of plot or narrative (i.e. not pornography).
Classic . Classic dramas refer to dramas performed before 1950.
Silent . Silent dramas were an early form of film that used no recorded sound.
Cult . Cult dramas are usually small-scale, independent productions with an offbeat plot, unusual characters, and/or unconventional style that have nevertheless gained popularity among a specific audience.
4. Poetry Genres
This list is from Harvard's Glossary of Poetic Genres who also has definitions for each genre.
What Are the Components of Genre In Literature? The 7 Elements of Genre
Now that we've looked, somewhat exhaustively, at examples of literary genres, let's consider how these genres are created.
What are the elements of literary genre? How are they formed?
Here are seven components that make up genre.
- Form . Length is the main component of form (e.g. a novel is 200+ pages , films are at least an hour, serialized episodes are about 20 minutes, etc), but may also be determined by how many acts or plot lines they have. You might be asking, what about short stories? Short stories are a genre defined by their length but not their content.
- Intended Audience . Is the story meant for adults, children, teenagers, etc?
- Conventions and Tropes . Conventions and tropes describe patterns or predictable events that have developed within genres. For example, a sports story may have a big tournament at the climax, or a fantasy story may have a mentor character who instructs the protagonist on the use of their abilities.
- Characters and Archetypes. Genre will often have characters who serve similar functions, like the best friend sidekick, the evil villain , the anti-hero , and other character archetypes .
- Common Settings and Time Periods . Genre may be defined by the setting or time period. For example, stories set in the future tend to be labelled science fiction, stories involving the past tend to be labelled historical or period, etc.
- Common Story Arcs . While every story type may use each of the six main story arcs , genre tends to be defined by specific story arcs. For example, comedy almost always has a story arc that ends positively, same with kids or family genres. However, dramas often (and when referring to historical drama, always) have stories that end tragically.
- Common Elements (such as supernatural elements, technology, mythical creatures, monsters, etc) . Some genres center themselves on specific elements, like supernatural creatures, magic, monsters, gore, and so on. Genre can be determined by these common elements.
As you consider these elements, keep in mind that genre all comes back to taste, to what readers want to consume and how to match the unlimited variations of story with the infinite variety of tastes.
Read What You Want, Write What You Want
In the end, both readers and writers should use genre for what it is, a tool, not as something that defines you.
Writers can embrace genre, can use genre, without being controlled by it.
Readers can use genre to find stories or books they enjoy while also exploring works outside of that genre.
Genre can be incredibly fun! But only if you hold it in tension with your own work of telling (or finding) a great story.
What are your favorite genres to read in? to write in? Let us know in the comments!
Now that we understand everything there is to know about literary genres, let's put our knowledge to use with an exercise. I have two variations for you today, one for readers and one for writers.
Readers : Think of one of your favorite stories. What is the literary genre of that story? Does it have multiple? What expectations do you have about stories within that genre? Finally, how does the author of your favorite story use those expectations, and how do they subvert them?
Writers : Choose a literary genre from the list above and spend fifteen minutes writing a story using the elements of genre: form, audience, conventions and tropes, characters and archetypes, setting and time periods, story arcs, and common elements.
When you're finished, post your story using the practice box below. Then, be sure to give feedback on the practices of three others writers.
Enter your practice here:
View Practice (1 practices)
Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).
Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.
Join over 450,000 readers who are saying YES to practice. You’ll also get a free copy of our eBook 14 Prompts :
Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Are You Ready to Become a Writer?
Enter your email to get our free 10-step guide to becoming a writer.
You've got it! Just us where to send your guide.
You've got it just us where to send your book..
Enter your first name and email to get our free book, 14 Prompts.
There are many different kinds of culture, but culture is generally divided into two different types: material culture and non-material culture. Material culture is similar to class status.
The two main types of newspapers are broadsheet and tabloid. Many newspapers have expanded to include an online format as well that can be updated more frequently. A broadsheet or quality paper, measured at 11 or 12 inches wide and 20 inche...
The different kinds of dramatic poetry include dramatic monologue, dialogue and characterization. Dramatic forms of poetry were prevalent in the late 19th century, when American poets used these forms to develop their ideas about their role...
The 14 Main Literary Genres · 1. Literary Fiction. Literary fiction novels are considered works with artistic value and literary merit. · 2.
All Fiction · Drama · Fable · Fairy Tale · Fantasy · Fiction · Fiction in Verse · Folklore · Historical Fiction.
Types of literary genres · 1. Literary fiction. The literary fiction genre involves information that describes imaginary people, settings and
What Are the Three Genres of Literature? · Poetry: Ballads, Lyric, Epic, Dramatic, Narrative · Drama: Tragedy, Comedy, History, Melodrama, Musical · Prose: Fiction
What are the genres of literature? There are four main literary genres: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and drama. The works within each genre
The Five Main Genres of Literature · #1 Fiction · #2 Nonfiction · #3 Drama · #4 Poetry · #5 Folktale.
A literary genre is a category of literature. Genres may be determined by literary technique, tone, content, or length (especially for fiction).
Literary fiction vs. genre fictionEdit · Academic novel (aka campus novel) · Adventure fiction · Echtra - pre-Christian Old Irish literature about a hero's
The three major literary genres are Pros, Drama, and Poetry. Click here to learn all definitions of subgenres, such as fables, legends
Like other art forms, literature is classified into four main literary genres (and sub-genres)—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama. Students
Literary genres are categories, types, or collections of literature. They often share characteristics, such as their subject matter or topic, style, form