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Genre Fiction Definitions

Here's how I classify my genre fiction in the hopes that it will make my blurbs a little simpler to follow.

Action Adventure Action-adventure fiction is traditionally, but not exclusively aimed at male readers, features physical action and violence, often around a quest or military-style mission set in exotic or forbidding locales such as jungles, deserts, or mountains.

Crime & True Crime Crime fiction stories, centered on criminal enterprise, are told from the point of view of the perpetrators. They range in tone from lighthearted "caper" stories to darker plots involving organized crime or incarcerated convicts. True Crime, as the name implies, is real, based-on real, or fictionalized stories based on real events.

Detective Detective fiction has become almost synonymous with mystery. However earlier novels are still distinctively Dick the gumshoe novels. These stories relate the solving of a crime, usually one or more murders, by a protagonist who may or may not be a professional investigator.

Mystery Mystery fiction, technically involving stories in which characters try to discover a vital piece of information which is kept hidden until the climax, is now considered by many people almost a synonym for detective fiction. The standard novel stocked in the mystery section of bookstores is a whodunit.

Fantasy Fantasy fiction features stories set in fanciful, invented worlds, an alternate and more fanciful version of our own world, or in a legendary, mythic past. Fantasy fiction stories generally involve magic, mystical elements, or supernatural creatures. The genre's relatively loose definition means it includes a large number of works in styles ranging from pseudo-mythological epics to more deliberately modern works, and includes works which also fall under other genres, such as horror fiction, comedy, action-adventure or Romance. Some works generally classified as fantasy fiction also include elements of Science fiction, and with many works revolving around psychics, ghosts, etc. being easily classified as either, some bookstores and critics tend to categorize the two genres together as speculative fiction.

Horror Horror fiction aims to evoke some combination of fear, fascination, and revulsion in its readers. This genre, like others, continues to develop, recently moving away from stories with a religious or supernatural basis to ones making use of medical or psychological ideologies.

Romance Romance has produced a wide array of sub-genres, woman-man, woman-woman, man-man love or lust plots with overwhelmingly happy endings. This genre, much like fantasy fiction, is broad enough in definition that it is easily and commonly seen combined with other genres, such as comedy, fantasy fiction, realistic fiction, action-adventure, time-travel, historical, horror...

Science Fiction Science fiction is defined more by setting details than by other story elements. Science fiction by definition includes extrapolated or theoretical future science and technology as a major component, and is often set on other planets, in outer space, or on a future version of Earth. Within these setting details, however, the conventions of almost any other genre may be used, including comedy, action-adventure and mystery. A sub-genre of science fiction is alternate history where, for some specific reason, the history of the novel deviates from the history of our world. Both alternate history and science fiction are often referred to alongside fantasy fiction, magical realism and some horror fiction under the umbrella term speculative fiction.

Literary Fiction Literary fiction is a term in common usage since around 1970 to distinguish 'serious' fiction (that is, work with claims to literary merit) from other types of genre or 'popular' fiction. In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character, whereas mainstream commercial fiction, the page-turner, focuses more on narrative and plot.

Supernatural Fiction Fiction pertaining to, or involving supernatural elements, which could include (but is not limited to) Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Death, the Afterlife, Ghosts, Magic, Zombies, and Fairies.

Graphic Novel

A novel, with graphics, usually denoting a bound set of comics.

Epistolary A story told through or containing the use of journal, diary, chronological organization of thoughts, a series of letters, or newspaper clippings.

Urban  Fiction Usually taking place in a city landscape or urban setting urban. Usually dark, urban fiction tends to focus on the underside of urban life; profanity, sex, and violence are usually explicit.

Awards, Honours, & Nominations Books have received either an award, a nomination, or an honour.

Magazine, Zine, or Chronicle A magazine. A zine. Or a Chronicle.

Movie, Film, or Television Show A movie, a film, or a television show.


Writing that is based on facts, real events, real people, whose creator, in good faith, assures accuracy of the events, people, or information presented. Such as a biography, history, or scientific text.

Website or Blog

Writing that is based on facts, real events, real people, whose creator, in good faith, assures accuracy of the events, people, or information presented. Such as a biography, history, or scientific text.

Banned, Challenged, or Controversial

Banned items are materials that have been, at one time or in one location, prohibited, or to which free access is not permitted by other means. The practice of banning books is a form of censorship, from political, legal, religious, or moral motives. Challenged items are materials that someone has sought to have removed or otherwise restricted from public access, typically from a library or a school curriculum.

Controversial items have may have been banned or challenged, or may see similar content to banned or challenged materials, they may contain such topics as: LGBTQ, sex, sexuality, profanity, witchcraft, religious aspersions, racial or hate language, violence, or targeted age range.


Is a female or heroine-centred narrative that focuses on the individual protagonist. Often centres on romantic relationships and female friendships in a humourous and lighthearted manner.

Fractured Fairy Tale

Is the retelling, restructuring, or reimagining of a fairy tale or piece of folklore. Often this is a modernization, gender reversal, or perspective change.


LGBTQ fiction is literature that involves characters, plot lines, or themes that portray lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer identities in a positive, supportive, and diverse manner.


Realistic fiction is a genre consisting of stories that could have occurred to people or animals in a believable setting. These stories resemble real life. Or fictional characters within the stories react similarly to real people.

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