Below, we’ll take a look at different types of fiction writing.

Fiction is a general term used to describe an imaginative work of prose, either a novel, short story, or novella. In the truest sense, a work of fiction is a creation of the writer’s imagination. 


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What is Fiction?

The two main types of fiction are literary and commercial.

  • Commercial fiction attracts a broad audience and may also fall into any subgenre, like mystery, romance, western, science fiction, and so on.
  • Literary fiction tends to appeal to a smaller, more intellectually adventurous audience. A work of literary fiction can fall into any of the subgenres described in the following sections. What sets literary fiction apart, however, is the notable qualities it contains – excellent writing, originality of thought, and style – that raise it above the level of ordinary written works.

In addition to mainstream fiction, more narrowly defined categories of popular fiction appeal to specific audiences. These different fiction categories, which are described briefly in the sections that follow, are classed as a group as genre fiction. Each type of genre fiction has its own set of rules and conventions. So, if you want to try your hand at writing fiction, start with what you like to read.

Mystery

The mystery is a popular genre, boasting a huge established audience. All mysteries focus on a crime, usually murder. The action tends to centre on the attempts of a wily detective-type to solve the crime, and the climax usually occurs near the end, in a leisurely setting where all the elements of the mystery are neatly assembled for the reader’s convenience. The solution, complete with surprises, is then delivered to the characters and the reader alike.

Romance

Romance is a huge category aimed at diverting and entertaining women. In romance novels, you have elements of fantasy, love, naïveté, extravagance, adventure, and always the heroic lover overcoming impossible odds to be with his true love. Many romances, especially the gothic romance, have an easy-to-follow formula – a young, inexperienced girl living a somewhat remote existence is courted or threatened by an evil man and then rescued by a valiant one.

Science fiction/fantasy

Science fiction/fantasy novels depict distant worlds and futuristic technologies that whirl readers far away from the here and now and yet provoke contemplation of contemporary issues. Imaginative, thoughtful, and other-worldly, this robust category is made even more popular by the Star Wars and Star Trek series.

Suspense/thriller

Suspense novels and thrillers are tense, exciting, often sensational works with ingenious plotting, swift action, and continuous suspense. In this genre, a writer’s objective is to deliver a story with sustained tension, surprise, and a constant sense of impending doom that propels the reader forward. Unlike mysteries, thrillers are dominated by action in which physical threat is a constant companion, and a hero (James Bond, for example) is pitted against a nefarious villain.

Western

Known simply as westerns, these novels about life on America’s post Civil War western frontier usually involve conflicts between cowboys and outlaws, cowboys and Native Americans, or Easterners and Westerners. While this category still has a mass-market audience and a thriving regional market, it’s not the popular genre it was 25 years ago.

Horror

Filled with gut-wrenching fear, this popular genre keeps readers turning blood-filled pages. From a writer’s perspective, the defining characteristic is the intention to frighten readers by exploiting their fears, both conscious and subconscious: fears of supernatural forces, alien visitations, madness, death, dismemberment, and other terrifying notions.

Young adult

This genre includes any type of novel with a protagonist in the 12 to 16 age range that speaks to the concerns of teenagers. Currently, J.K. Rowling and her amazing Harry Potter (Scholastic Press) books are dominating the field. Rowling’s accomplishment — a truly universal story, brimming with magic and fantasy as well as likeable characters that readers identify with — is an amazing feat.


Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in other English Language and Literature courses, click on the links below:

Basic Essay Writing

Basic Descriptive Writing

Advanced Descriptive Writing

All English Literature and Language courses