Big Fat Fiction Genre List

Fiction genres may be determined by the content, literary technique, tone, and length of novels.

“Genre conventions,” as defined by Robert McKee, are “specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their subgenres.”

So you want fiction genres? I’ve got fiction genres. The first list includes most of the popular and recognized genres and subgenres of fiction. Note that some subgenres of one basic genre will overlap with other subgenres of other basic genres. There’s no established consensus of what constitutes a “fiction genre,” so this list may change as I see fit. In deference to wiki, I excluded the categories of “Young Adult” and “Graphic Novel” from the first list of fiction genres: “Genre should not be confused with age category, by which literature may be classified as either adult, new-adult, young-adult, or children’s. They also must not be confused with format, such as graphic novel or picture book. The distinctions between genres and categories are flexible and loosely defined, often with subgroups.” -wiki


We’ll start with what I consider the 2 broadest fiction genres. Not all fiction falls under these two labels- in fact, I’d say most fiction does not. But I included these at the top of my list to represent the extremes of a spectrum:

AIRPORT NOVEL / PULP FICTION– Written for maximum market appeal, with minimum consideration given to other novel elements.

LITERARY NOVEL– Written with minimum consideration given to mass market appeal, with maximum consideration given to other novel elements.


Next, we’ll move to the basic genres and their subgenres:

ANTINOVEL– Written without many of the familiar conventions of a standard novel.


GENERAL– Written with many of the familiar conventions of a standard novel. Also may fall under another basic genre label.

subgenres: Bizarro, Cross-Genre, Fabulism, Gothic, Historical, Magic Realism, Slipstream, Urban Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Men’s Fiction, Genderqueer Fiction



subgenres: Cross-genre, Historical



subgenres: BDSM, Contemporary, Erotic Action-Adventure, Erotic Fantasy, Erotic Horror, Erotic Mystery, Erotic Romance, Erotic Science Fiction, Erotic Suspense, Erotic Western, Gothic, Historical, Paranormal, Shapeshifter, Vampire, Non-Vampire Monster



subgenres: Bizarro, Contemporary, Cross-Genre, Dark Fantasy, Fabulism, Fairy Tale, Gothic, Heroic Fantasy, Historical, Light Fantasy, Magic Realism, Paranormal, Science Fantasy, Shapeshifter, Shared World, Silkpunk, Slipstream, Steampunk, Superhero, Supernatural, Sword & Sorcery, Urban Fantasy, Vampire, Non-Vampire Monster, Weird Tale, Weird Western



subgenres: Apocalyptic, Bizarro, Creature Horror, Dark Fantasy, Extreme Horror, Fabulism, Gothic, Historical, Horror Western, Magic Realism, Noir, Paranormal, Psychological, Science Fiction Horror, Serial Killer, Shapeshifter, Shared World, Slipstream, Soft Horror, Supernatural, Vampire, Weird Tale, Zombie, Monster Other than Vampire / Zombie



subgenres: Crime Fiction, Detective, Hardboiled, Historical, Noir, Police Procedural, Private Investigator, Supernatural



subgenres: Chick Lit, Guy Lit, Genderqueer Lit, Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Gothic, Historical, Paranormal, Regency, Romantic Action-Adventure, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Fantasy, Romantic Horror, Romantic Mystery, Romantic Science Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Romantic Western, Time Travel, Vampire, Non-Vampire Monster



subgenres: Alternate History, Apocalyptic, Bizarro, Contemporary/Near Future, Cyberpunk, Dystopian, Hard Science Fiction, Mundane Science Fiction, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction Horror, Science Fiction Western, Shared World, Slipstream, Soft Science Fiction, Space Opera, Steampunk, Superhero, Time Travel, Weird Tale, Weird Western



subgenres: Conspiracy, Crime Fiction, Espionage, Hardboiled, Historical, Noir, Political Thriller, Psychological, Romantic Suspense, Serial Killer



subgenres: Alternate History, Classical Western, Contemporary, Horror Western, Science Fiction Western, Weird Western


Special acknowledgement to for providing most of the above subgenres.


Here’s an alternate list provided by wiki:

And lest we forget: Physician Bluegrass Fiction

Here’s the next big genre: Online (Novels about people living their entire lives online.)

Here’s an expanded list of subgenres.

Here’s a list of ALL genres.


Fiction writers, do you write with a genre in mind? Why or why not?

Leave a comment


  1. You have almost every genre except my line; physician bluegrass fiction.

    Dr. B, author, “The Mandolin Case”

  2. Manon Eileen

     /  March 7, 2011

    I don’t write with a particular genre in mind, but somehow I always end up writing something in the Sci-fi or Fantasy genre. Especially the philosophical themes I like to write about fit in the sci-fi setting… But I have written shorts that aren’t sci-fi at all.

    Thanks for these lists, C.M., it’s good to see this kind of information in one place. But with some subgenres I really wonder what it actually IS. Lol.


    • You’re welcome!

      I don’t write with a particular genre in mind either. When I look at my work, however, most of it seems to be in the Psychological Horror / General genres. Last year I wrote a Speculative novel (Plausible Futuristic).

      Yeah, some of the subgenres sound pretty wacky. lol

  3. Hi CM. I didn’t write my first novel with fiction in mind, and when someone first asked me what genre it was, I couldn’t answer. I was so clueless, I didn’t think it really mattered. Now, I know I write post-apocalyptic sci fi. Looks like you’ve got a label here for every occasion so I don’t have to be at a loss in the future. Thanks for the post. 🙂

    • You’re welcome!

      In my opinion, when writers first start writing, they should just write without considering genre. This is “finding your voice.” After they’ve written a few stories, then they may want to determine if their work falls under a particular genre. Many authors do well commercially when they write with a particular genre in mind.

  1. Big Fat Fiction Genre List « CMStewartWrite : Romantic
  2. The End is Near (and we deserve it). . . . Intruder Calls 911 on Homeowner « Author Piper Bayard
  3. Romance Genre Fiction: 3 Easy Steps to Hot Sales | Angela Booth's Fab Freelance Writing Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: