Quick overview of biggest genres

Genre

Mainstream

Mainstream stories are contemporary stories intended for the general public rather than a specific audience. This type of story challenges the reader’s belief system, suggests a new life vision, asks provocative questions, provokes introspection, and/or shakes up conventional rules.

Literary Type

Literary stories are avant-garde and experimental stories that incorporate unconventional and non-traditional writing style and techniques. They’re often weak on plot and strong on characterization.

Science Fiction

A novel in which futuristic or otherwise altered scientific principles form the basis for adventures. Often the novel posits a set of rules or principles or facts and then traces their logical consequences in some form.

Mystery

A novel whose driving characteristic is the element of suspense or mystery. Strange unexplained events, vague threats or terrors, unknown forces or antagonists. Gothic novels and detective novels are often also mystery novels. An essential element is that both reader and sleuth have access to the same essential information. In omniscient passages, the sleuth should have access to all the information. Minor characters point of view only provides non-essential information for the puzzle.

Thriller/Suspense

Provide a long puzzle and a vicariously scary experience. Focus on the victim as he or she is being stalked and threatened. Keep glimpses into the killer’s mind brief. The detective often fails to solve the case and the victim ends up saving the day. The crime should provide an intellectual experience. The horror aspect is highly emotional, often in omniscient Point of View to create an atmosphere of threat and foreboding. A romance is possible between two protagonists.

Detective

A novel focusing on the solving of a crime, often by a brilliant detective and usually employing the elements of mystery and suspense.

Gothic (or Horror)

A novel in which supernatural horrors and an atmosphere of unknown terror pervades the action. The setting is often a dark mysterious castle of mansion where ghosts and sinister humans roam menacingly.

Elements of a gothic novel:

  • Ancient prophecy (mysterious, obscure and often hard to understand)
  • mystery
  • suspense
  • high emotion (sentimentalism and a lot of terror)
  • supernatural events
  • omens, portents, dream visions
  • fainting and screaming women
  • women threatened by a powerful impetuous male
  • castle of mansion with secret passages
  • metonymy of gloom and horror (wind, rain, howls etc)

Children’s stories

A novel written for children and discerned by one or more of the following aspects:

  1. A child’s character or a character a child can identify with
  2. Theme(s) aimed at children
  3. Vocabulary and sentence structure available to young readers

Adventure

A novel where exciting events predominate over characterization and sometimes theme.