Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Beginner's Guide to Identifying Genres

If you’re a reader, you need to know which store bookshelf (I’m going old school here) is going to hold your newest treasure. If you’re a writer, you need to know which genre you write so that you can target the correct agent or publishing house (if you’re going old school).

The trouble is that there are many, many genres - both distinct and fusions. Here is a beginner’s guide using my own twist:

Fantasy: Dragons.

Science Fiction: Dragons in space.

Horror: A dragon-masked maniac terrorizes a small town.

Adventure: Indiana Dragon hunts for lost treasures.

Humour: Percy Dragon wants to be a firefighter. Comical mayhem ensues.

Historical Fiction: Lord Percival Dragon goes on crusade with Richard the Lionhearted.

Romance: Boy meets girl. Sparks ignite, then get snuffed out. Will they find a way to relight the flame?

Romantic Comedy: Miss Dragon and her girl friends look for love and expensive shoes.

Cozy Mystery: Kind Mrs Dragon solves crimes while knitting a blanket for the new arrival next door. 

Thriller: George Dragon (MI5 operative) uncovers a plot to blow up the Alps.

Literary fiction: Mrs Dragon contemplates her life choices which have kept her in the cave. Should she have been responsible for making her own fire?

 “You do not like them.
 So you say.
Try them!
Try them!
Dr Seuss - Green Eggs and Ham

Elspeth Futcher is an author and playwright. Thirteen of her murder mystery games and two audience-interactive plays are published by Her A Fatal Fairy Tale, Deadly Ever After and Curiouser and Curiouser are among the top-selling mystery games on the Internet.  Elspeth's newest game, The Great British Bump Off is now available from her UK publisher, Red Herring Games, as is her Once Upon a Murder. Elspeth's 'writing sheep' are a continuing feature in the European writers' magazine Elias and also appear on this blog from time to time. Connect with her on Twitter at @elspethwrites or on Facebook at Elspeth Futcher, Author.


  1. I absolutely LOVED this! It made me laugh out loud. Many thanks!

  2. How fun! Looking at the genre nightmare as a midsummer night's dream scene definitely provides much needed comic relief (apologies, W. Shakespeare). Love the dragons, Elspeth.

  3. Here's one more category, Elspeth: Sloth: Protagonist is Erasmus B. Dragon.

  4. LOL. A perfect explanation. It's all clear now.
    Susan Says

  5. In Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, I outline in detail how to decide where your treasure should be buried in the book racks. Your post sums it up nicely. Makes me wish I had thought of the dragon analogy. I could have used a cute dragon peeking out of a book rack on the cover. :)

  6. I adore this post, Elspeth. Great, to the point, and very funny!


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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