When we say genre, the first thing that comes into our minds is category. True, genres are categories of literary compositions. Each genre is determined by technique, tone, content, and even length.
The criteria used to divide literary works into genres are not consistent. It changes constantly and it’s even a subject for debate among literary scholars, authors, publishers, and critics.
Just see how literature as an art is divided into something like this:
(1) comedy of manners
(2) sentimental comedy
(3) burlesque comedy
(4) satirical comedy
(4) Fan fiction
(6) Historical fiction
(10) Realistic fiction
(11) Science fiction
(12) Short story
(5) Lab Report
(7) Narrative nonfiction/personal narrative
(8) Reference book
(9) Self-help book
You might have noticed that a few genre overlap with another or the distinctions between them are thin. For example, crime/detective can also be mystery or suspense/thriller. Yet, their definitions differ and some scholars have made distinctions between each genres and subgroups.
Some people tend to use age categories as genre. In bookstores and libraries, literature may be classified as either adult, young-adult, or children’s.
Genre must not also be confused with format, such as graphic novel or picture book.
Also, literary techniques should not be confused with genres. These techniques may be loosely defined like any genre but they are not the same. Examples are parody, frame story, constrained writing, stream of consciousness.
On this site, we focus on a specific genre: crime fiction. It is defined as the literary genre that fictionalizes crimes, their detection, criminals, and their motives.
But what distinguishes crime fiction from the other genres like mystery and suspense/thrillers? We will discuss this on my next blog.