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Genres of Popular Literature
of Popular Literature
The table below displays dstinct types (genres) of popular literature, as discovered by students through reading and close listening. Unless otherwise noted, information is either student-composed or borrowed from
, and respects
is currently the largest and best-selling fiction genre in North America. It has produced a wide array of subgenres, the majority of which feature the
mutual attraction and love
of a man and a woman as the main plot, and have a
. This genre, much like
, is broad enough in definition that it is easily and commonly seen combined with other genres, such as
, fantasy fiction,
, or action-adventure; Female protagonist; exotic settings; traditional gender roles; mutual attraction; sentimentality abounds, a happy ending ensues
Romance genre page
Physical violence featured; usually male protagonist performs a quest/mission with military features (weapons, tactics,etc.); also usually a
; The conflict typically involves commandos, mercenaries, terrorists, smugglers, pirates, spies and the like. Stories often include elements of technology, weapons, and other hardware, but may also include
. The genre is still largely aimed towards a male audience (for example, the
series is often categorized as action-adventure), but it also commonly includes female characters in active "action" roles, the most famous examples being the
from the James Bond series, who are often just as capable in combat or weapons handling as their male counterparts. Many post-
works such as
series even feature (conventionally
) women in roles more traditionally reserved for males, such as
, though the
is still a notably frequent archetype in the genre.
Action/Adventure genre page
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
creatures such as
. The genre's relatively loose definition means it includes a large number of works in styles ranging from pseudo-mythological epics (
Lord of the Rings
) to more deliberately modern works (such as
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
), and includes works which also fall under other genres, such as
, action-adventure or
Fantasy genre page
student sample 1
Mystery, detective fiction whodunnit
This large, popular genre
has many subgenres, reflecting differences in tone, character, and it always contains criminal and detective settings
. Follows the solving of mysterious crimes, usually one or more murders; detective may or may not be a professional sleuth;
echnically 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," a colloquial word for a mystery novel.
Mystery Genre page
is a sub-genre of the
which attempts to convincingly depict the activities of a
as they investigate
. While traditional detective novels usually concentrate on one single crime, police procedurals frequently depict investigations into several unrelated crimes in a single story. While traditional mysteries usually adhere to the convention of having the criminal's identity concealed until the
, the so-called
, in police procedurals, the perpetrator's identity is often known to the reader from the outset. Police procedurals depict a number of police-related topics such as
, the gathering of
, the use of
Police Procedural page
that deals with
, their detection, criminals and their
. It is usually distinguished from
fiction and other genres such as
, but boundaries can be, and indeed are, blurred. It has several sub-genres, including
Crime Fiction page
According to Columbia College Chicago, Creative non-fiction
"...comes in many forms: memoir, narrative journalism, travel writing, personal essay, descriptive storytelling...What they all have in common is a basis in reality from careful observation to honest emotional truth."
Some writers in this genre are David Sedaris, Dave Eggers, and Hunter S. Thompson.
This could be a lot of fiction--is it every piece of fiction that is published now (contemporary)? that's not a very useful classification.
"Fictitious books written that are relevant to the modern day which occur around the same time period. These books can refer to real events, however the main storyline of the book is purely made up. Many times, the novel deals with a specific problem going on in a character's life, and how he deals with it."
Contemporary Fiction page
. It includes numerous, often overlapping
. Thrillers are characterized by fast pacing, frequent action, and resourceful
who must thwart the plans of more-powerful and better-equipped
are used extensively.
Thriller genre page
is a sub-genre of
in which the major characters are
and their employees. The system of justice itself is always a major part of these works, at times almost functioning as one of the characters. In this way, the legal system provides the framework for the legal thriller much as the system of modern police work does for the
. Usually, crusading lawyers become involved in proving their cases (usually their client's innocence of the crime of which he is accused, or the culpability of a corrupt corporation which has covered up its malfeasance up until this point) to such an extent that they imperil their own interpersonal relationships and frequently, their own lives.
Legal Thriller page
) are a hybrid genre, drawing subject matter generally from spy
. They include a disproportionate amount (relative to other genres) of technical detail on its subject matter (typically military technology); only
tends towards a comparable level of supporting detail on the technical side. The inner workings of technology and the mechanics of various disciplines (
) are thoroughly explored, and the plot often turns on the particulars of that exploration.
Is set in a world in which certain scientific principles (currently theorized) are realized; often set in future Earth, or on other planets.
with varying punctuation and capitalization) is a broad
that often involves speculations based on current or future
Science Fiction genre
With soldiers as protagonists, war fiction is set inside an armed conflict. Normally male protagonists are in conflict with the enemy, their fellow soldiers, and themselves. Themes can range from the personal (one's own "private" victories) to the political (when war is/is not justified, the effects of war on a population, etc.)
War Fiction Page
Military History is usually organized according to the various wars in human history. It typically provides a non-fiction description of the events leading up to various battles, the main combatants or military leaders, an account of the various tactics and strategies, and one or more battle maps. According to Wikipedia, "The documentation of military history begins with the confrontation between Sumer (current
) and Elam (current
) c.2700 BCE near the modern
, and includes such enduring records as the
. Other prominent records in military history are the
has been challenged),
(484 BC - 425 BC) who is often called "father of history".
Military History page
Set in 19th century American frontier; hero is usually rugged individual male horsemen strive to bring law and order out of chaos.
is a genre of literature set in the
American Old West
between the years of 1860 and 1900. Well-known writers of Western fiction include
from the early 1900s and
from the mid 20th century.
Western genre page
) is a term ostensibly coined by
] that describes a genre of biographical literature mostly concerned with the protagonist's triumph over personal trauma or abuse, often during childhood (because of the recovery dimension of the genre, some publishers refer to it as "inspirational lit", or "inspi-lit"). The genre is generally considered to be American in origin, but eventually became wildly popular in Britain as well.
Misery Lit page
(sometimes referred to as
) is a genre of literature that combines elements of both
. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author
, with his 1764 novel
The Castle of Otranto
The effect of Gothic fiction depends on a pleasing sort of
, an extension of essentially
literacy pleasures that were relatively new at the time of Walpole's novel.
and parody (including self-parody) were other long-standing features of the Gothic initiated by Walpole.
Goth Lit page
a term used to denote
written for and marketed to young
, especially single, working women in their twenties and thirties. The genre's creation was spurred on, if not exactly created, by
diaries which inspired Adele Lang's
Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber: The Katya Livingston Chronicles
in the mid-1990s.[
] Another strong early influence can be seen in the books by
M. C. Beaton
about Agatha Raisin and
. The style can also be seen to be somewhat influenced by female teen
. Later with the appearance of
Bridget Jones's Diary
and similar works; the genre continued to sell well in the 2000s, with chick lit titles topping
lists and the creation of
devoted entirely to chick lit.
Chick Lit page
is a fictional
that may feature
characters (such as
, often involving a far-fetched sequence of events. In modern-day parlance, the term is also used to describe something blessed with princesses, as in "fairy tale ending" (a
] or "fairy tale romance", though not all fairy tales end happily. Colloquially, a "fairy tale" or "
" can also mean any far-fetched story. Fairytales mostly attract young children since they easily understand the archetypical characters in the story.
Dystopias are commonly found in
novels and stories. Please see the article
for discussion of definition. Note that the definition of dystopia is not agreed by everyone, but it is usually considered to mean something much more specific than a nightmare world or unpleasant future.
or sometimes shortened simply to
World War I
at about the same time that the first modern
Spy fiction page
is a genre of
which chronicles the lives and doings of a family or a number of related or interconnected families over a period of time. In novels (or sometimes
sequences of novels
) with a serious intent, this is often a thematic device used to portray particular historical events, changes of social circumstances, or the ebb and flow of fortunes from a multiple of perspectives.
The typical family saga follows generations of a family through a period of history in a series of novels.
includes a personal
that attempts to persuade the reader to incorporate into his or her own life. The
of a piece of inspirational writing draws upon personal experiences of his own or of others. The desired result strives to benefit the
emotionally, physically and spiritually. Forms of inspirational writing include
, or any other form of
. The natural extension of inspirational fiction would be the
novel. Well-done pieces rely upon honest expression that creates an emotional impact without being preachy.
"Classic" may... be applied to
that is widel
y considered a model of its form
--that is, it is so good that it becomes a standard for excellence in literature. In this sense, classics comprise what some call a
, or select collection, of
. A matter of little dispute is what belongs in
the canon of Western literature and art
. But what can be said is that, although it may differ according to the reader, a classic is a book that has
lasting interest or significance
The books generally acknowledged to be "classics" belong to the "canon" of accepted literary masterpieces. Over 25 years old, and usually with a dead author, they are often read in literature classes.
Most classics are many years old, but "classic" is sometimes pressed into use to describe newer works.
The phrase 'classic book' or 'classic literature' has taken on new meaning - many view any pre-1900 book still in print as a classic, or titles that is hundred years or older and still in print, and many books are classed as
because of their contemporary significance or perceived future significance.
These latter understandings of classic are too lax for our purposes and are therefore rejected.
a vast category, which can be subdivided by type (e.g., "Young Adult Mystery," Young adult romance," etc.). According to Wikipedia, "Young-adult fiction, whether in the form of novels or short stories, has distinct attributes that distinguish it from the other age categories of fiction:
middle grade fiction
. The vast majority of YA stories portray an adolescent as the
, rather than an adult or a child. The subject matter and story lines are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but beyond that YA stories span the entire spectrum of fiction
. The settings of YA stories are limited only by the imagination and skill of the author.
Themes in YA stories often focus on the challenges of youth, so much so that the entire age category is sometimes referred to as
coming of age
novel . Writing styles of YA stories range widely, from the richness of literary style to the clarity and speed of the unobtrusive. Despite its unique characteristics, YA shares the fundamental elements of fiction with other stories: character, plot, setting, theme, and style.
Young Adult page 1
Young Adut page
sample YA w.dialog
that expounds and illustrates a
in its plot, its characters, or both,
] or which deals with Christian themes in a positive way.
Christian Fic page
is a sub-genre of
that often portrays fictional accounts or dramatization of historical figures or events. Writers of stories in this genre, while penning fiction, nominally attempt to capture the spirit, manners, and social conditions of the persons or time(s) presented in the story, with due attention paid to period detail and fidelity.
student sample of historical war fiction
this is a fiction set in a world of athletics--the characters, plot, and themes have to do with athletes. In general (according to
is an imaginative form of
; one of the four basic
. Although the word
is derived from the Latin
fingo, fingere, finxi, fictum
, "to form, create", works of fiction need not be entirely imaginary and may include real people, places, and events. Fiction may be written or oral or may be presented as a film or in theater or on radio or television. Although not all fiction is necessarily artistic, fiction is largely perceived as a form of
. The ability to create fiction and other artistic works is considered to be a fundamental aspect of human
, one of the defining characteristics of
Sports Fiction page
, from the
"life" and γράφειν
"to write",, is a
written by the predicate or composed conjointly with a collaborative writer (styled "as told to" or "with")... A memoir is slightly different in character from an autobiography. While an autobiography typically focuses on the "life and times" of the writer, a memoir has a narrower, more intimate focus on his or her own memories, feelings and emotions. Memoirs have often been written by politicians or military leaders as a way to record and publish an account of their public exploits.
Memoir genre page
or representation of a subject which is presented as
. This presentation may be accurate or not; that is, it can give either a true or a false account of the subject in question. However, it is generally assumed that the authors of such accounts believe them to be truthful at the time of their composition. Note that reporting the beliefs of others in a nonfiction format is not necessarily an endorsement of the ultimate veracity of those beliefs, it is simply saying that it is true that people believe that (for such topics as
). Nonfiction can also be written about
, giving information about these other works.
Nonfiction is one of the two main divisions in writing, particularly used in
, the other being fiction. However, nonfiction need not be written text necessarily, since
can also purport to present a factual account of a subject
or account of someone's
, which is usually published in the form of a
, or in some other form, such as a
meaning "self," giving "self-biography") is a biography by the same person it is about. A biography is more than a list of impersonal facts (education, work, relationships and death), it also portrays the subject's experience of those events. Unlike a
), a biography presents the subject's story, highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experiences, and may include an analysis of the subject's personality
This is literature based on factual occurrences that take the protagonist to "extreme" places, where it is a matter of life-or-death. Most battle memoirs could qualify as "extreme" non-fiction, as could many of the stories of people in "extreme" situations such as police officers, gang members, and mountain climbers. The "stickiness" of this genre is in the vicarious thrills it gives the "un-extreme" reader, who can safely experience the protagonist's experiences from a distance.
Extreme non-fiction page
These are non-fiction works written at least fifty years ago. These books could be science experiments, or any other story of a veritical nature. Since these books are very well written and often appeal to many generations, they have stood the test of time.
Classic Non-fiction Page
Travel literature is
of a non-fiction type. Travel writing typically records the experiences of travelers in some interesting places and circumstances. It will include vivid descriptions, illustrations, historical background, and possibly maps and diagrams.
The Humor (or Humour) genre incorporates texts that are funny or humourous. Humour is different and distinct from the genre Comedy, because Comedy has a history stemming back to ancient theatre and has several different and equally valid definitions. Obviously, the Humour genre is highly subjective. Some texts are written simply for humour value; such as joke books, spoofs, and often, books written by comedians (with the exception of much of the work of
). However, many books have Humour as a sub-genre, because the work falls under a literary genre and is also humourous. For example, Douglas Adams’s
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
and Humour, and Ben Elton’s
and Humour. These books were written in the spirit of light-hearted fun, but also had an overarching genre. The spectrum ranges from books written simply for humour value, and serious books that contain dry, satirical wit. And, of course, always remember that one man’s humour is another man’s that’s-not-funny-at-all.
is a genre of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to scare its readers, inducing feelings of
horror and terror
. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural. The genre has ancient origins which were reformulated in the eighteenth century as
, with publication of the
Castle of Otranto
.The trait of the genre of horror is that it provokes a response, emotional, psychological or physical within each individual which causes someone to react with fear. In order for that response to be elicited there are different techniques used, such as unreal figures (phantoms, mummies, etc.), or more real situations and figures (serial killers, rapists, kidnappers). The main ingredient within horror is that the reader or viewer can relate to it somehow and that there’s always something unexpected on its way. The whole horror genre is build up upon people’s fear of the unknown and anxieties. According to H.P. Lovecraft: "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."
Student Example of Horror Fiction
Student example of horror fiction
Horror Fiction Page
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