Advice

What are Genres and Tropes?

Genres are basically categories of writing, determined by the content of that writing. Books are written to fit in certain genres so readers and audiences can identify what they like, and continue to read books from that genre as they know they’ll enjoy it.

Here’s some of the most well-known fiction genres. Most books you read will fit into one of these:

  • Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Thriller
  • Mystery
  • Crime/Detective
  • Horror
  • Comedy
  • Literary

And here are some less common genres:

  • Coming-of-age
  • Fairy tale
  • Historical
  • Satire
  • Erotica
  • Adventure
  • Action

Most of the time, a story will overlap two or more genres, like a romance that takes place in a fantasy setting, or a horror that’s set in space, for example. Some books might not fit into any genre at all, too, so you don’t have to limit yourself based on genre.

Most genres have tropes that help you easily identify that a piece of writing fits within that genre. The tropes of a genre are what the audience enjoys and contributes to their identification of what they like to read. Here is an example of tropes often seen in fantasy writing:

  • Good vs evil – there’s nearly always a good side vs a bad side
  • Hero – the person that goes on the adventure and saves the day
  • Dark lord – the being that rules over all the evil stuff
  • Quest – fantasy is personified in a quest to achieve, defeat, or acquire something
  • Magic – fantasy is full of weird and wonderful magic
  • Medievalism – fantasy usually is set in a medieval-like setting, with no technology, or guns, for example
  • Races & species – lots of interesting races and species are seen in fantasy, often with their own interesting inter-species relationships

The joy about fiction writing is there are no rules, however, and writers are always coming up with new and exciting ways to make a genre new and use tropes in different ways.

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