All About Genre

Wondering what your genre is? Wishing you could sum it up in a word? I’ve been there. But the thing is, you probably can’t. So today, I’m here to help you find your multiple-word genre.

Note: Here, we are specifically talking about fiction genres, so if you’re trying to name your non-fiction genre, this article is not for you. This one or this one might help, though.



Ages: 0-7yrs

Content: Mostly pictures, typical characters are young children or animals and parents, simple words

Word Count- Picture Books: 50 or fewer Average: 200-600

Info: This age consists of short attention spans and concrete thinking. Narrative form is also typical.

Middle Grade-

Ages: 8-12yrs

Content: Fewer pictures, begin to have chapters, typical characters are 7-12yrs, growing vocabulary

Word Count- Early Readers: 20-35,000 Comfortable Readers: 40-55,000 Fantasy: 75-80,000

Info: This age likes adventure and begins to think more abstractly. Pictures become less necessary as readers get comfortable. More diverse personalities seem funny and interesting.

Young Adult-

Ages: 14-18yrs

Content: Teenaged-young twenties characters, growing vocabulary, pictures not typical

Word Count- Average: around 80,000 Fantasy: 100,000+

Info: This age deals on a more abstract and emotional level, and finds the amount of character diversity in the previous age cheesy, although they appreciate quirky characters. Themes deal with romance, coming of age, and emotional baggage.


Ages: 19yrs+

Content: Vocabulary depends on genre, characters in late 20s+, no pictures

Word Count- Average: 80-90,000 Fantasy: 100,000+

Info: Deals equally with concrete and abstract conflicts such as emotional baggage, jobs, spiritual struggles, and romance.


Contemporary- This wide branch includes modern history (1945-present), and is a type of realistic fiction. This genre includes unconventional styles and literary techniques, but is set in the real world.

Literary- This is not technically a genre, but a separate class of fiction that is character-driven and naturally introspective. Themes tend to revolve around social, political, and human conditions. These often have a slower pace and are complex, with plot as secondary. The tone also tends to be darker than genre fiction.

Historical- Just like it sounds, historical fiction is a story that takes place in a past time-setting. These tend to play into the etiquette, economics, and social boundaries of the chosen time period. These can also include notable historical figures, events, and settings.

Suspense- a genre that pleases the reader with balanced amounts of fascination, excitement, apprehension, anticipation, and tension. These tend to be both character and plot fueled, but always centered around the leading problem, be it an antagonist or circumstantial.

Police Procedural- also called crime or police fiction, this is a story that centers on a crime and its investigation. These tend to be driven by plot rather than characters.

Horror- a branch of fiction meant to induce fear, disgust, and loathing within the reader. These tend to have “supernatural” creatures or monsters, and employ jump-scare tactics to startle and shock the reader.

Fantasy- typically contains magical and/or supernatural elements, and takes place in a non-existent (imagined) world with its own history and ecosystem. Tends to have longer word counts due to long descriptions and world building.

Now, you may have noted some missed categories. New Adult and Romance, for example. I feel like the market is so small for New Adult that I didn’t find it necessary to list it here. For Romance, it seems fairly straightforward, but if you would like some clarification on the subject from a professional, Tamela Hancock over at the Steve Laube Agency wrote an article about the Romance genre awhile back. If you check it out, make sure and tell them I sent you. 🙂

Now, with me being a Christian author and all, you’re probably surprised I didn’t list it here. Don’t worry. That series is coming up at the beginning of February.

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