Mon. Jun 17th, 2024
Genres and Sub-Genres of Literature:

Introduction to Genres and Sub-Genres of Literature:

In literature, the terms “genre” and “sub-genre” refer to categories or classifications that help describe literary works’ content, style, and form.

Genre: A broad classification that categorizes literary works based on shared themes, styles, settings, or narrative techniques. Examples include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama.

Sub-Genre: A more specific category within a genre that classifies works based on additional, distinct characteristics. Examples include dystopian (a sub-genre of science fiction), historical fiction (a sub-genre of literary fiction), and epic poetry (a sub-genre of poetry)

Further division:

Here are the genres and sub-genres of literature:

1. Fiction:

 Propp, a Russian folklorist, analyzed fiction through the lens of narrative structure and archetypes. He identified recurring patterns or “functions” in folktales and fairy tales, such as the hero’s journey and the battle between good and evil, which he argued are fundamental to the human experience and shape the structure of fiction.

Sub-genres of fiction are described below:

  • Fantasy: This genre often involves magical elements, supernatural creatures, and imaginary worlds. Examples include J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” series and J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.
  • Science Fiction: Science fiction explores futuristic or speculative concepts, often based on scientific principles. Examples include Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series and Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”
  • Mystery: Mysteries revolve around solving a crime or unraveling a puzzle. Examples include Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” and Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” series.
  • Romance: Romance novels focus on romantic relationships and love. Examples include Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Nicholas Sparks’s “The Notebook.”
  • Historical Fiction: Set in the past, historical fiction often incorporates real historical events and figures. Examples include Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” and Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth.”
  • Thriller: Thrillers build suspense and tension, often involving danger or high-stakes situations. Examples include Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” and Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.”
  • Horror: Horror literature intends to evoke fear or dread through supernatural or psychological elements. Examples include Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Stephen King’s “The Shining.”

2. Non-fiction: 

Larson, an American author known for his narrative non-fiction, described non-fiction as “a true story, well-told.” He emphasized the importance of storytelling techniques, such as narrative arc, character development, and vivid description, in bringing real-life events to life and engaging readers in the drama and intrigue of history.

Here is the list of sub-genres of non-fiction:

  • Biography: Biographies provide accounts of someone’s life written by another person. Examples include “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson and “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank.
  • Autobiography: Autobiographies are accounts of a person’s life written by themselves. Examples include “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou.
  • Essay: Essays are short pieces of writing on a particular subject, often expressing the author’s personal views. Examples include “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift.
  • Memoir: Memoirs are similar to autobiographies but focus on specific moments or themes in the author’s life. Examples include “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt.
  • Journalism: Journalism involves reporting current events, analysis, and commentary on news topics. Examples include “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson.

3. Poetry:

Angelou, an American poet and civil rights activist described poetry as “the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.”Poetry is further categorized into its sub-genres that are:

  • Epic: Epics are long narrative poems that often tell the story of heroic deeds. Examples include “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” by Homer.
  • Sonnet: Sonnets are 14-line poems often with a specific rhyme scheme. Examples include Shakespeare’s sonnets and “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
  • Haiku: Haiku is a traditional Japanese form consisting of three lines with a 5-7-5 syllable structure. Examples include works by Matsuo Bashō and Kobayashi Issa.
  • Free Verse: Free verse poetry lacks a regular meter or rhyme scheme. Examples include “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman and “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot.
  • Ballad: Ballads are narrative poems often set to music, telling a story in short stanzas. Examples include “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde.

4. Drama:

Drama, as defined by scholars and practitioners, encompasses various aspects of theatrical performance and storytelling.

Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, defined drama as an “imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude, in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play.”

Subtypes of drama are:

  • Tragedy: Tragedies feature a protagonist who undergoes a downfall due to a tragic flaw or external circumstances. Examples include “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare and “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller.
  • Comedy: Comedies are intended to be humorous, often featuring exaggerated characters and situations. Examples include “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare and “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde.
  • Farce: Farce is a type of comedy characterized by slapstick humor, exaggerated characters, and improbable situations. Examples include “The Government Inspector” by Nikolai Gogol and “Noises Off” by Michael Frayn.
  • Drama: Dramas are serious plays focusing on realistic characters and situations, often exploring complex themes. Examples include “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” by Edward Albee.


In conclusion, the diverse array of genres and subgenres within literature offers a multifaceted tapestry of human experience, imagination, and expression. As we explore the rich tapestry of genres and subgenres, we celebrate the boundless creativity and diversity of voices that enrich the world of literature and illuminate the shared humanity that connects us all.

By Romana

Hi everyone I'm Romana the creator of "Literaturebs.Online". I've always had a passion for stories, so I decided to build this space to share my love of literature with fellow bookworms like you. From classic novels to modern masterpieces, I hope to inspire and engage readers of all ages. Join me as we embark on a journey through the wonderful world of words!"

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