What's Your Genre?

genres2
genres2

“I don’t know what genre my book is.” — Something clients tell me often.

Genres have subgenres. And those subgenres have subgenres. Now we have so many subgenres that it’s nearly impossible to know the names of them all.

But fear not!

Determining your book’s genre can be difficult for any author. My goal with this piece is to help those whose fictional novels do not fit into any typical genres. Each genre I list is a subgenre.

Maybe you wrote a novel, but it doesn’t fit into any of these main categories:

  • Crime
  • Fantasy
  • Historical Fiction
  • Horror
  • Mystery/Detective
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Suspense/Thriller
  • Western

In fact, none of those genres even come close to yours. “Sure, there’s romance, but there are also aliens taking over earth for our radioactive waste. It’s not just romance!”

Then let’s explore some lesser-known genres.

Bizarro

Yes, it really is as strange as it sounds. Bizarro is more than just a genre—it’s a culture. If you have a weirder-than-weird book—I’m talking’, super weird—this might be the genre for you.

Absurdism + pop surrealism + satire

Metafiction

Simply put: metafiction forces readers to be aware that they are reading a fictional book. Did you know Slaughterhouse-Five and Don Quixote are both categorized as metafiction?

Fiction about fiction

Surreal Humor

Do you love the illogical? Does nonsense tickle your fancy? Is Alice in Wonderland one of your favorite books? Then welcome to surreal, or absurdist, humor.

Humor + unpredictability+ ridiculousness

Horror Comedy

To take frightening situations and respond to them with humor. Scooby-Doo, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies all involve black humor, or horror comedy.

Taboo subjects + laughing at your own fears

Howcatchem

More commonly known as the inverted detective story, a howcatchem book is a murder mystery wherein the reader is shown the crime and the perpetrator from the very beginning. Then the reader follows along as the detective attempts to solve the mystery. Think of Dial M for Murder or Columbo.

The opposite of a whodunit

Urban Fantasy

Primarily set in cities, urban fantasy revolves around a normal, everyday character who’s plunged into supernatural elements. Young adult novels do well in this genre and are usually written as a series. Yes, Twilight is urban fantasy.

Real world + fantasy + discovery

Alternate Histories

A very fun, imaginative genre, alternate history recreates the past and asks the question, What if it happened differently? Time travel is used often in this genre. 11/22/63 by Stephen King is a story of a time traveler who attempts to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

What if this happened instead?

For more on historical fiction subgenres, go here.

Cyberpunk

High tech and low life—when science becomes too advanced. If you’ve got hackers, dystopian influences, and advanced technology, you’ve got yourself a cyberpunk novel. Cinder is a recent example.

Information technology + cybernetics + the future

Glitz & Glamour

Oh, you fancy, huh? G&G focuses on the jet-set elite and celebrity-like characters. Think of Jackie Collins, Judith Gould, and Danielle Steel.

Romance+ the rich and the famous

These are just examples—I can’t list them all. But Writer’s Digest did, so take a look here for more information.