The first question asked when a writer sends a manuscript to an agent, a publisher or a self publishing site, is “What genre is it?” Several Years ago, I wrote a blog defining the many Art Genres. This year, I decided to try the same with writing. I searched the internet and pulled up most of these definitions from Wikipedia, and various other internet sources who defined writing genre. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it might help my fellow writers when asked by a publisher to define the genre of the book they have just written. There is an enormous amount of information about book genres, so I will be presenting these blogs genre by genre over the next few weeks. I limited myself to fiction. I may do a similar chart for non-fiction later though. I got the idea for the chart from a Facebook post, but I made some changes and additions to what was there. Please feel free to share or add to it.
Youth Fiction (YA)
I made this a separate category because the plots of these novels span all the genres. Young adult fiction or young adult literature (YA) is fiction for readers from 12 to 18. However, authors and readers of “young teen novels” often define it as works written for age 15 to the early 20s. The terms young adult novel, juvenile novel, teenage fiction, young adult book, etc., all refer to the works in this category. The subject and story lines of young adult literature must be consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but these books span the spectrum of fiction genres. Stories that focus on the specific challenges of youth or teens are sometimes referred to as coming-of-age novels.
is a genre all to itself. These are children’s books written especially for children from 0 to 12 years old. Like YA fiction, they include a broad spectrum of the genres, with certain differences from YA and Adult fiction.
Children’s books that provide a “visual experience” – tell a story with pictures. There may or may not be very simple text with the book. The content of the book can be explained with the illustrated pictures.
Picture Story Books
These are Children’s books that have pictures or illustrations to complement the story and usually are aimed for a trifle older audience (7-10) depending on their reading ability. These are often done on a collaborative basis with the author employing an illustrator, or vice versa. Both the text and the illustrations are important to the development of the story. The pictures are the “eye-candy” that get children’s attention, but the text is needed to complete the story.
This type of fiction includes stories passed down from generation to generation. In many ways, the fact that they do change over time is what makes them so fascinating because of the link they provide to the past. To remain meaningful in different eras, the stories while keeping much of their original flavor and content, must evolve in subtle ways to be acceptable to current mores and culture. These are folktales, fairy tales, fables, legends and myths.
Children’s Historical Fiction
Books classified as historical fiction for children are stories that are written to illustrate or convey information about a specific time or historical event. Authors use historical fiction to create drama and interest based on real events in people’s lives.
This genre is probably easier to define by example or by what it isn’t. The stories are contemporary or set in nondescript time periods. These are imaginative tales requiring readers to accept story lines that clearly cannot be true. They may be based on animals that talk, facets of science fiction, supernatural or horror, or combinations of these elements. “Charlottes Web,” “Winnie the Pooh,” “Alice in Wonderland”, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and “The Wizard of Oz” are all examples of modern fantasy written for young readers up to 12 years old.
Children’s Realistic Fiction
has main characters of roughly the age (or slightly older than) the book’s intended audience. The books offer a “real-world” problem or challenge and show how a young person solves that problem.