Literary Genres and Subgenres

Fiction
stories with imaginary characters and events

Historical Fiction
subgrene of Fiction, stories set in the past with fictional characters who take part in actual historical events
Example: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

Realistic Fiction
subgenre of Fiction, stories with characters who take part in activities that could really happen
Example: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Science Fiction
subgenre of Fiction, stories involving actual or future scientific phenomena
Example: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Fantasy
subgenre of Fiction, stories set in make-believe worlds, often with non-human characters
Example: Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

Mystery
subgrenre of Fiction, stories with characters who try to solve a crime or unexplained event
Example: Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keen

Nonfiction
true stories of actual events or characters

Autobiography
subgenre of Nonfiction, a person’s life story written by himself or herself
Example: Black Boy by Richard Wright

Memoir
subgenre of Nonfiction, an account from person’s life story written by himself or herself
Example: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Biography
subgenre of Nonfiction, a person’s life story written by another person
Example: Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg

Reference
subgenre of Nonfiction, information sources such as encyclopedias, yearbooks, directories, and atlases
Example: Britannica Encyclopedia

Information
subgenre of Nonfiction, a book or article that introduces the reader to various topical material and “how to” information on various subjects
Example: On Writing by Stephen King

Newspaper
subgenre of Nonfiction, a daily or weekly publication of current events
Examples: The New York Times

Poetry
words arranged in metrical pattern, often using rhymed verse in an imaginative style
Example: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

Play
a story for stage performance by actors
Example: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Folk Tale
an anonymous, timeless, and placeless story that was originally told rather than written
Example: Aesop’s Fables

Epic Poetry
subgenre of poetry, lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation
Example: The Epic of Gilgamesh

Lyric Poetry
subegenre of poetry, typically express personal or emotional feelings and is traditionally the home of the present tense
Example: Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Dramatic Poetry
subgenre of poetry, any drama written as verse to be spoken
Example: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Comedy
subgenre of play, any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or to amuse by inducing laughter
Example: A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

Tragedy
subgenre of play, based on human suffering
Example: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Melodrama
subgenre of play, exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions
Example: The Sorcerer by Gilbert and Sullivan

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