The 21 Fiction Genres (And Their Cousins)

I was reviewing a section of a book I read some years ago titled Story Structure Architect. Because I’ve recently been sensitized to the need to have one’s fiction properly categorized, I quickly became interested (that’s code for got way off task) in an early chapter called The 21 Genres.  So, according to Victoria Lynn Schmidt (who also wrote 45 Master Characters), here they are, with some subcategories:

Action: Includes Superhero, Underdog, Revenge, and Savior.

Adventure: With Expeditions, Treasure Hunts, and Discovery.

Children: Special Beings, Lessons to Learn, Accomplishment, and Animals are featured. Journeys and Mysteries are possible.

Comedy: Includes Satire, Parody, Farce, Dark, Slapstick, Screwball.

Creative Nonfiction: Subs include True Crime, Journalism, Autobiography, Biography.


Diary or Journal

Drama: With Realistic and Over-the-Top types.

Fantasy: No subcategories listed, although there are many.

Historical or Epic

Horror: Violence, Dark Aspects of Life, Psychological.

Inspirational: Religious, Spiritual, and Motivational varieties.

Musical (Usually plays or films, but novels and shorts can be written.)

Mystery: Hard-Boiled (“Noir”), Cozy, Police, Detective, Amateur Detective all feature.

Suspense / Thrillers (Why no sub-cats? Conspiracy, Disaster, Medical, Techno, Treasure and more!)




Romance: Contemporary, Fantasy, Historical, Inspirational, Regency, Suspense, Time Travel, Paranormal, Religious, Multicultural.

Science Fiction: Supernatural or Realistic, although a better list is here (and it’s not complete).

Westerns: None listed, though there are many possible, from Australian and Cattle Drive to Revenge and Town-Tamer.

So what do you think of Dr. Schmidt’s list? Complete enough for you? What about Young Adult; should be a category here? Drop us a note here at the Accidental Novelist and sound off!

Fans of Genre Fiction, Unite!

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