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Types Of Fiction

Updated on July 28, 2012

Facts About Fiction


There are many different genres of fiction just as there are many different genres of music. As in music, there are also subgenres that have a very specific audience, for instance the historical romance genre.

No matter what the genre, however, most fiction is comprised of the following components:

  • Characters
  • Plot
  • Conflict - whether it's self against self, nature against man, character against character
  • Exposition - where the story is ultimately going, what's it about?
  • Rising action - how the story is leading up to something
  • Climactic moment - where the outcome or point of the story is revealed
  • Declining action as the high point is reached and subsidance begins
  • Resolution - what happens when the story is played out

How one genre incorporates the above components is what sets that particular style of writing apart from others.


Source

What are Some Common Fiction Genres?


-Science Fiction

This genre takes people out of the norm and into the imagination. Much of this style of fiction can be based on scientific knowledge or facts but much is seated in an imaginary world with out-of-the-scope-of-reality themes and resolutions. Example: "Planet of the Apes."


-Mystery

The classic who done it, this genre is usually about murder but sometimes can be about other crimes. There is a deed committed and someone who must solve it taking the reader with the "detective" character utilizing clues and deductions to resolve the crime. Example: Sue Grafton alphabet series books as in "A is for Alibi."


-Fantasy

This is a genre similar to science fiction but more grounded in the mysteries of magic rather than based on scientific facts. This style of writing also involves imaginary worlds and realms. Example: "Lord of the Rings."


-Westerns

This is a unique writing style based on cowboys and the first settlers to America. It is a very specific genre type often depicting the rough life of pioneers. Stories about outlaws or ranchers trying to survive the harsh elements of the Old West are also popular themes. Example: Deadwood.



-Horror

This genre is based solely on evoking terror in its readers. This style can also be based in imaginary worlds but again, the prime target of this writing style is to scare the living daylights out of the reader sometimes employing mentally graphic and frightening images. Example: "Friday the 13th."

-Thrillers

Similar to the horror style of writing, this genre makes the reader sit on the edge of his or her seat waiting to see what happens. Thrillers are written to create suspense and a sense of urgency usually involving the protagonist battling something such as a runaway train or a natural disaster. Example: "Dante's Peak."

-Romance

This genre is about passion and falling in love. There usually are forces trying to keep the two main characters apart but in most cases, there's always a happy ending. Example: "Daring to Dream."

-Historical

This writing style is based on time periods some decades or centuries past. There is a plot integrated into the norms of the time period the story is set in. This style of writing helps the reader visualize times long past. Some authors use this creatively combining the past and present through the use of flashbacks. Example: "The French Lieutenant's Woman."


Subgenres of Fiction


There are many offshoots or subgenres of the above styles of fiction writing. Take Nora Roberts for example. She is primarily known for her romance novels. She has written countless stories of the conflict between two people who seem unlikely to end up together yet somehow they miraculously do. There's always a happy ending and a typical Romance Fiction style is used.

While her romance novels are best sellers under the confines of Romance Fiction, she also writes thrillers which in turn always have a romantic theme going on as well. Her latest thriller, "The Witness," combines a story about a young woman who witnesses a mafia style murder and has to go underground to escape being killed herself with a love story. This kind of genre combination would be best termed Thriller Romance Fiction or Romance Thriller Fiction based on the elements of the story.

Nora Roberts also writes as J.D. Robb. Her writings in this genre would be classified as Science Fiction or even conceivably Mystery. Instead of being set in the past or about multiple characters, the entire collection of her writings revolves around two main characters who appear in every book, Eve and Roark. The books are set in the future but always involve a murder that Eve must solve. Yet, it also depicts the great love affair between the two main characters. These books would also fall into a combination genre such as Science Fiction Romance or Mystery Romance.

Some authors write mainly in one genre while others seem to have the ability to be cross over writers, writing in many different subcategories of fiction.

Types of Fiction


-Commercial Fiction

This is the style of fiction that is written for the purpose of making money. This would include all of the above genres of writing as most are geared towards making a profit from book sales, movie contracts or TV shows.

-Literary Fiction

This type of fiction encompasses writings that are works of art. Example: "Matterhorn."

-Young Adult Fiction


This genre of writing is centered around adolescents and many of the problems that they face. It also encompasses fantasy and other styles of writing but geared towards a younger audience. Example: Harry Potter series.


Contacts for Writers


There are writers' associations for each and every type of fiction. For the writer interested in pursuing writing fiction as a career, here are some great resources:

  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
  • Horror Writers Association
  • Mystery Writers of America
  • Romance Writers of America
  • Western Writers of America
  • International Thrillers Writers




FACTOID: Women buy more books than men. Women's Fiction is now believed to be a fixed fiction genre as evidenced by the popularity of Oprah's Book Club.

Types of Prose Fiction

Fiction Type
Number of Words
Pages
Flash Fiction
1000-2000 words
5
Short Story
At least 2000 words but less than 7500 words
5-25
Novelette
At least 7500 words but under 17,500 words
25-60
Novella
At least 17,500 words but under 50,000 words
60-170
Novel
At least 50,000 words or more
170+
Epic
At least 200,000 words or more
Over 700

What do you read?

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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Docmo - good points - and I read just about everything too - it makes for a well rounded life~

      Maddie - How awesome! I think about writing a book but just do a chapter at a time on my hubs~~~

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 

      5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I love historical fiction and sci-fi/fantasy. In fact, I'm working on writing my own fantasy novel! I think, for writers, it's important to read many different genres and styles.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      5 years ago from UK

      This is a wonderfully succinct summary of fiction facts. Loved the way you have outlined not only the genres or subgenres but also the story lengths and their definitions. I am a confirmed bibliophile who reads most genres as long a it is a good story ... or a well written factual book. I feel genre classifications is a necessary evil. I know many who dont read outside their favoured genre and this way miss out on many good books... Thanks for a great hub. voted up!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Thanks BJ - never thought of that - perhaps it is a type of fiction after all..there must be something we can call it~

      Virginia - Indeed - I think you would be definitely right about that being modern times (back then). Those are great authors.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      5 years ago from United States

      Interesting hub on the variety of types of novels! I love realistic social novels, like those of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope. Nowadays, that would probably almost be a historical novel, but they would have been realistic modern fiction when they were written!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      5 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Audrey, for these fascinating, fructifying, fiction facts. I can think of one more subgenre of commercial fiction - the Tweet on Twitter. An entire story/review/advertisement is written in 140 words or less. Not an easy task.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Patty~

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 

      5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Interesting Hub!!!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      5 years ago from Washington

      Dahoglund - I know what you mean - I didn't really think of them as their own genre either~

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Some of these I have though tof as sub-genres of others.. for example I have generally considered thrillers to be a sub genre of mysteries.

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