Your Genre Questions

Here's where you can get answers to your genre questions.

A lot of beginning writers seem to worry about genre, perhaps because genre can be a complex topic, but more likely because too many websites about writing say you should decide early on what genre you are writing in.

That's only partially true. On the one hand, if you know what type of book you want to write and who your readers are, it can help to consider their expectations.

On the other hand, it can be said that every truly original book is its own genre. Many groundbreaking works of fiction combine genres or exist at the boundary between genres. For example, it is often said that science fiction is every genre, because every genre can be incorporated into science fiction. So we have SF westerns, SF mysteries, SF comedies, SF war stories, SF disaster stories, SF courtroom dramas, SF historicals (thank you, time travel), SF romances, etc. If you have a great idea for a story, but you're not certain what genre it is, don't agonize over it. You might just have an original idea.

That said, the biggest divide among readers seems to be between books considered mainstream or literary fiction and genre fiction.

Some would argue that the difference between the two is that genre fiction tends to be more plot-oriented, while literary fiction is more character-oriented, but these distinctions often break down on close examination and are highly subjective.

For the most part, what distinguishes a genre is that there are enough books with traits in common as to set them apart from the herd. Those traits can be similar settings (e.g. historical, science fiction, fantasy), audiences (children's books, young adult, chicklit), story goals or themes (crime fiction, coming of age, thriller, romance), styles (humour), etc.

Below we invite you to submit your genre questions and will try to answer them. You can also read our answers to genre questions submitted by other readers.



Have A Question About Genres Or Genre Fiction?

Submit your questions about particular genres or writing genre fiction in general here. If we feel we can provide an answer that will benefit other visitors and that the question has not already been addressed at length elsewhere on this site, we will post it. (We also invite you to comment on questions others have submitted.)

Questions From Other Visitors

Click below to see answers to questions other visitors have asked...

Things adults typically do, ways they act, things they say.  
Question: What are some things that are cliché in the adult world (i.e. things typical of adults that teens wouldn't know) that a YA writer could draw …

A compelling ghost story 
Question: I am trying to write a young adult supernatural/gothic ghost story. But that's as far as my mind goes - a young adult supernatural ghost story. …

SF Romance 
Question: I'm writing a novel that is basically a romance novel, but it takes place in 2025 and the protagonists are working in technology field. There's …

making fantasy relatable 
What are your thoughts or opinions on the importance of a fantasy world/setting being connected to our own real world in some way? I got to thinking …

I wrote a Fiction Novel based on true events... 
Question: I wrote a Fiction novel based on a true story with a word count of 30200. Is this too short? I'm a first time Author and intend to go for self …

Will it work? 
Question: I am writing a new adult book, but it has magic in it because it is a fantasy/fiction novel. Will readers like the novel because it has magic …

YA or adult genre? 
Question: I'm writing a book that has characters from ages 20-23. There is no sex mentioned, but it has cursing in it. It takes place at a college. So, …

"historical" fiction? 
Question: I am researching and writing a book on an historical figure who was born in 1896 and died in 1981. Much of what is known about him is from …

Genre Angst 
BACKGROUND INFO: I have finally accepted that -- in my series of Christian novels -- I must let the reader know in the first page or so of each title …

Teen books, adult books... 
Question: There are lots of books out there today, some are "teen books" written for teens and some are more for adults... My question is, what makes …

High or Low Fantasy? 
Question: I read a question in this section about the differences between high and low fantasy and it's got me wondering what type of fantasy some novels …

what genre is my book 
Question: I'm writing a guide type how to book but its not self help and is more like a funny novel. What genre does this belong to? For example it resembles …

is classifying my book mandatory ? 
Hello, I already posted a question regarding the sagging middle syndrome on another category of this site and again thank you for all the time and work …

Flashbacks in psychological thriller.  
Question: The main character in my psychological thriller has amnesia. I had scenes where other characters have flashbacks about parts of his life that …

Cheesy Romance? 
Question: I have nearly finished my book, it is about a group of high school friends who graduate and go on a cruise, and on this cruise they find their …

Epic stuff. 
Hello your advice have been helpful. My question is: what makes a book or a story an epic? What are all the elements in an epic? Does an epic have to be …

Homophobic publishers 
Question: I would like to know why publishers refuse to publish novels with a GLBT theme to them? I can search the net and find gay/lesbian themed …

Is the Epic Sci-Fi Adventure genre dead, or Is There Still Room For It in Today's World? 
Question: I am a writer with big dreams of writing an EPIC storyline. A storyline that dares to go so far as to create a new universe that runs parallel …

Can the crossover work? 
Question: I'm a fanatic fan of steampunk, and am writing a steampunk book, hoping to turn it into a series, but I also really like certain elements of …

Genre S.O.S. 
Question: Okay I need a little help here cause I think I am totally lost on the genre topic of my book. I honestly don't really know how to describe …

How to stress my point 
Question: OK, so my story is somewhere between fantasy and sci-fi. I find it pretty close to steampunk myself. Anyway, several elements of the culture …

The Fine Details Of Culture 
Question: For fictional races or people, making a culture to go with them is a must, but I feel like I'm missing some things and I just can't name them! …

A New Race 
Question: For my high fantasy, I want to create a world populated ENTIRELY by my own races, but I want them to be (for lack of a better word to use in …

Lengthy Sci-fi novel.  
Question: I finished writing my first book and reviewed and edited my draft around the 7th time now (lol lost count I guess). I verified the guidelines …

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characters and conflict 
Question: How can I keep my characters and their conflicts interesting for my readers? Answer: Start by making characters interesting to you. Really …

re: Stuck Between Two Stones: Fiction or Nonfiction? 
Hello Glen- first, let me give you a bow and hats off on such an outstanding website. Truly it's a writer's very own cloud in heaven! Well, I am finally …

How to write a semi-autobiographical story incorporating perseverance, politics, self-reflection and metaphysics then market it as fiction? 
Question: I know the question is kinda vague,sorry. I guess what i want to know is how to find a story goal that can carry the average reader(and anchor …

Making a story combining elemnts of existing stories 
Question: I am writing a novel about a guy who wants to capture loose souls back to Hell using summoned creatures. The problem is, right now my idea …

Space Opera 
Question: ok i guess this would fall under a sci-fi/action genre. i did a prompt in my college writing class about space pirates and was not having my …

Is my word count below the accepted word count? 
Question: I read the word count for Fantasy is around 75k + and it's so because of world building. My story is MG and it's around 24500, is it too …

What would my genre be considered for my story? 
The story takes place on a planet where Heaven and Hell are themes that represent the racial tensions between races of Demon and Angelic beings. The main …

Finding a story goal in a parody novel. 
Question: I absolutely love humor and recently found the inspiration to write a novel-length parody on the adventure and fantasy genres. I've worked …

What's My Genre? 
Question: I am not sure what genre my novel is categorized in. It's target is for young people ages 7 to 21, it is non-fiction and involves the discovery …

Novel problem: how to explain superpowers 
Question: First of all, I would just like to thank you for all the tips and information put up on this site-it has truly helped me better organize and …

things that you suggest in writing a romance autobiography 
Question: What are the things I must consider while I am writing an autobiography? can I write in past tense or what tense do you recommend me? I am …

How to describe fantasy fight scenes? 
Question: So I'm writing a story about an old war between elves and humans the protagonist is a 17 year old boy who has both bloods but i seem to have …

Can you write a topic that's YA but not teenager-y? 
Question I'm writing a story, and I want it to be directed towards generally teenager age readers, but I am terrified of it being put in the same class …

How much sex is too much? 
Question: If I never go into specifics...how much description is too much for my book to stay young adult, as far as sexual encounters go? Answer: …

What if it includes gay characters? 
Question: What if it has gay characters? Answer: If the story is written to appeal to a gay audience, then you would use gay or LGBT as just another …

Children's Animal Stories 
Question: I hope you can give some advice. I would like to write a fictional children's book about animals and perhaps publish it online on my website …

Literary Fiction on Contemplation as the Goal 
Question: I suppose the genre will most likely be a Literary Fiction since the focus is on philosophical questions. Can you suggest some works/books …

Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and Romance? 
Question: So I have this story where the culture, mythology, and some races are based on Ancient Greek mythology, and culture, have some magic and lots …

What would be a good software program for a work mixing biographical and autobiographical material with fiction? Program should make easy to insert photographs and drawings on the pages? 
Dear how to write a book people, Thank you for making such an informative and useful website. I apologize if I am writing into the wrong category …

How to approach genre when querying literary agents?  
Question: I am currently researching Literary Agents who state interest in genres that seem similar to my manuscript.(…as something to keep the nail …

From first to third Person 
Question: In fiction novels, does it usually seem strange to switch from first to third person, chapters by chapters, if the change is clear? How about …

Changing from first to third person 
Question: As a general rule, does a fiction book seem strange if chapter by chapter, it changes from first to third person. How about when it's made …

Genres: Do you think this is possible to pull off? 
Hi! I'm currently worldbuilding a story I'm going to write in some years. English is not my mother tongue, so I'll need some time to enrich my vocabulary …

Series of Events 
Question: My topic is based on WWII and merchant marines... how technically detailed do I get when telling my story? Answer: As detailed as you …

Is my subject comedy? 
Question: I am writing about...hold your breath, sit down; POOP, you know a non vulgar name for S***. What genre should I apply? Answer: Well... …

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Will I Be Safe If I Label My Novel As A Psychological Thriller, And If Not, Which Genre Does It Belong In? 
Hello, Glen. I'd love to get your opinion on the question that's been picking at me for some time now. The novel that I'm writing is what I would call …

Genres  
Question: My story has to do with a girl who is sent to the future to participate in an intense survival game. The players are all equipped with weapons …

my book 
Question: I have written a novel about the true events of my life. What genre would this be considered. Answer: If your book is the story of your …

About LGBT as a genre... 
Question: My novel has a male-male couple in it. While the main focus of the story is not their relationship (it's spy/thriller/crime), and it will take …

Comic plot and a novel plot... any differance? 
Question: I'm drawing a comic, or I might say a graphic novel. As its name might be self-explanatory (graphic novel is, well... a novel, duh) I think …

Soft Science Fiction vs. Hard Science Fiction 
Question: What is the difference between soft science fiction and hard science fiction? How do I know which one my novel falls under? Answer: In …

What Genre am I? 
Question: I read a lot and I read a lot of different genres. It is hard for me to start out writing regardless of how many good starters I feel I have …

style of book 
Question: Do you have any help & ideas for a book about making natural products (dyi)? I've been working on making all sorts of natural products. From …

Messing with genres in a trilogy 
Question: My rookie novel has been gestating for many years. As such it evolved an over abundance of ideas. So to resolve this I am considering developing …

Fiction Novel? 
Question: I am writing a book which will be not a short novel and it will involve true facts of a girl's life ending up in slavery. at the same time …

What Genre is my Book/ story? 
Question: My story mostly takes place in an underground "clan" world, but it is not fantasy because only humans live there, and there are not really …

Vintage low fantasy 
Question: First of all, great job on this website! Found it by accident (or perhaps it wasn't accidental...hmm) and it has been extremely helpful. I …

Diferences: Psychological Horror and Horror 
Question: I have a great idea for a horror novel but I am confused on the genre categorization. Is there a difference between a Psychological Horror …

What exactly makes a 'steampunk' book? 
Question: I was just wondering. In the reviews I've read, both Scott Westerfeld's "Leviathan" and Cassandra Clare's "Clockwork Angel" were described …

Is crime part of mystery genre? 
Question: Is crime another type of genre or is it part of the mystery genre? Answer: It's more the other way around. Murder mysteries are one type …

Genre: Low Fantasy or Alternative History? 
Question: What genre for an MC who gets a chance to live his life over again at a very young age, and decides to use his knowledge of future events in …

Which genre? 
Question: My MC grows a pair of wings a after a spiritual journey (meeting with his inner self through lucid dreams). He is then recruited by a secret …

Writing Children's Stories  
It seems I have good Prose apparently, and I'm good at using a well-enough-defined vocabulary. However, I fear I might have issues then with the concept …

Genre confusion 
Question: I'm having trouble recognizing the genre of the movie little miss sunshine. Is it a tragedy or a comedy? Answer: I haven't actually seen …

Genre 
Question: I would like to know what Genre an idea for a book that I would like to write would be under, dealing with a personal thing that happened in …

Low Fantasy 
Question: What is the difference between high fantasy and low fantasy? Answer: There are several ways people have attempted to define these terms. …

hard life 
Question: How would I compose an autobiography about a young girl's hard life? Answer: Well, you would start by asking yourself a lot of probing …

Is it a thriller or something else? 
Hi Glen, Would the story below classify as a thriller or something else? At the moment it's just an idea. I also guess that this is the type of thing …

Difference between YA and teen? And do word counts really matter? 
Question: Is there a difference between YA and teen novels? If so what are they? And do word counts really matter? I've looked it up on the internet …

Difference Between...YA & Adult Fiction 
Question: Hello, I'm pretty sure that you may have answered this question already but I will ask if you don't mind. Is the main difference between …

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Story Goal in Paranormal Romance 
Question: I was wondering if you could give me examples of story goal for paranormal romance stories. I think I'm confusing story goal with internal …

paranormal romance 
Question: I just recently been addicted to any type of romance books involving supernatural powers. My favorite author is Gena Showalters "The Lords …

planting clues and red herrings 
Question: In a cozy mystery, what are the best ways to work in clues and red herrings? Answer There seem to be two approaches in mystery writing. …

Is this Gothic fiction? 
Question: I never really put any label on my stories because I just write them for fun, but a friend of mine said he could have sworn they counted as …

Concerning Suspension of Disbelief in Steam / Dieselpunk 
Question: The manuscript I'm writing is a blend of certain tropes from Low Fantasy, Diesel and Steam punks and oddly enough, SciFi. It essentially concerns …

Real quick question 
Question: I mostly write supernatural or dark fantasy, but I would also like to do erotica just to try my hand at it. But I also don't want to give up …

About this genre... 
Question: OK, I'll just say it: Erotica. There, now that we got that out of the way... I just really would like an actual writer/author's explanation …

Sorry, but I MUST ask... 
Question: OK, my favorite genres to write in are mostly fantasy and occasionally steam/dieselpunk, but what I really like to do in those genres (or any …

One freakish crossover... 
Question: OK, I have this idea for a novel that I really want to do, but I really want your opinion on whether or not it's likely to work. I know in …

Humorous Fiction Question 
Hi, I am in the very beginning phases of writing. I have no real writing experience or really even know what I am doing for that matter. It has been …

Where Does Post Apocalyptic Fit In?  
Question: Where does the Post Apocalyptic genre fit in? Is it a sub genre? Is it Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or Historical-in-Reverse? Any books on writing that …

Convincing Fictional Religion 
Question: I really want to make fully fleshed-out religions for my people in my book world. I don't just want to take the default path of "this is the …

Epics 
Question: I'm a life-long high-fantasy fan, but instead of being all about novels, my dream is to write my own epic. Not just "epic" as in really cool, …

Women's Fiction 
Question: Women's fiction is a broad audience term, but I was wondering if it is dictated by heroine's age (and vice versa)? For instance, Young Adult …

What exactly makes a "gay novel"? 
Question: I'm curious... I've heard of "gay literature" as its own genre. I'm seriously curious of what qualifies a novel to become a gay novel. I like …

Why always "off-screen"? 
Question: First things first, your site is awesome! As a novice writer, it's been a priceless resource for me. Anyway, I love writing fantasy mostly, …

Sexuality in High Fantasy 
Question: I am a die-hard fan of high fantasy, and would love to make a career of it. But more than modern pop-culture fantasy (orcs, elves, etc.), I …

Thrillers and real life experiences. 
Question: I finished my first draft and left it hanging and started another one. Both stories are based on the same premise of real experiences I have …

including research in a non- fiction book 
Question: How do I include research into my book. My book includes case studies. Do I add it the the bottom of the case study, if it is applicable, …

Writing A Fantasy Novel How To Avoid Writer's Block In This Genre 
Hello..... I am a 20 year old wannabe author...... I have written a few short stories.... on different types of genres... but now I want to have a …

Writing a Psychological Thriller 
Hi. Thank you so much for this great site. I especially appreciate how quickly you respond to queries! I'm writing a psychological thriller but …

Medieval/Fantasy Setting 
Question: I'm a 16-year-old who has an interest in writing. So I'm already planning for this novel, in which a centaur is the hero/heroine and the clan …

What Genre/category book is this? 
Question: I am writing my first book about the 17 year journey of my mother,who was the perfect mom growing up,and after a couple a tragedies became …

Genre: Agents are asking me to define the genre of my novel. . 
Question: I went to the bookstore and stood among the fiction titles. The only books that vaguely resemble mine are Gone With The Wind, The Outlander …

Nonfiction Help 
Question: I've always been interested in the way that we are all influenced by the expectations of society on us. I have been brainstorming and writing …

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DK about my genre 
Question: OK, so my novel is for Young Adults, I know that. The problem is, I don't know the genre within YA... that wouldn't be a problem except for …

What Genre? 
Question: I have a story idea that incorporates medieval times and modern times with Witches, Kings, Dragons and faery folk working with some goth teens …

Will my readers accept this? 
Question: If my main character comes to earth right after she has been born - in another world - and just lives there, do you think I'd have to try and …

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