Walk around any bookstore and you’ll see all kinds of genre of fiction. Genres, sub genres, all sorts of different types of stories. Authors have a multitude of genres to write and sell in fiction. So how do they choose? Well, often it’s due to their favorite type of fiction to read, or where their imaginations take them. So what are the top 10 fiction genres?
Let’s start with mystery
Who doesn’t like a good mystery? Mystery fiction deals with solving a situation that puzzles people. It could be a good old fashioned “who dunnit” that involves finding out who committed a crime, Agatha Christie is a well known mystery writer. Others involve unraveling secrets on a more lighthearted note like Sneaky Pie Brown, a mystery solving cat, or the Death on Demand series by Caroline Hart.
Thriller or suspense is next
This genre can be found in other genres as well, but generally they are stories that puts the reader on the edge of his or her seat. Dan Brown and his mysteries involving religious symbolism and the like are a great example of thrillers as they are fast paced, “page turners” that combine solving a mystery AND evading capture. Suspense doesn’t have to mean scary as we see in Dean Koontz‘s novel, The Face, which is scary meets Hollywood and is one of my favorite all time titles.
One of the truly best known genres of fiction is romance. Who doesn’t love a good story where the hero saves the heroine after convincing her he is the love of her life? This genre can have parts of other genres, such as historical romance, or science fiction romance. What sets it apart from other genres and makes it romance is that the story of the couple is the central part of the book, and the details surrounding it that make it “historical” or “thriller” are less important. One note if you are writing romance, there is an implied promise in the romance genre that everything WILL come out right in the end.
Fantasy includes the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling or Lord of the Rings. In this genre there is generally a fictional world that may or may not connect with our “real” world. The fun thing about this genre is that readers often take the story and want to extend it on, like the amazing Pottermore site that allows Harry’s fans to gather and talk about the world of Hogwarts.
Adventure is a broad genre that may have elements of other genres, but is all about the journey and what happens along the way. Think Treasure Island or more recently the Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins.
Humor. Who doesn’t want to laugh?
Humor doesn’t have to mean silly or slapstick when it comes to fiction. Two of my favorite humorous protagonists are strong women who are downright smart AND funny. The first is Lucky O’Toole, by Deborah Coonts. Her series set in Las Vegas is downright fun reading. The second is the Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich. These are rip-roaring fun and feature a lot of humor (some of it pretty dark!)
Historical fiction tells a story using fictional characters but talks about an historical setting or event. A great example of historical fiction is The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George. The story tells of King Henry VIII of England and involves characters who existed, but makes up details that couldn’t be historically verified.
Science Fiction is a genre that deals with content such as futuristic settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life. Old science fiction has been known to be either silly in what people thought our time would be like, or eerily similar to the technology we now have. Science fiction often deals with the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations. Two of my favorite science fiction writers are Orson Scott Card, who wrote the Ender’s Game series, and James P. Hogan who wrote Inherit The Stars in 1978.
While I mostly write about marketing books, I am reader of great fiction too and so hope that if you are a new author you find your favorite genre and run with it!