Genres of Writing: Definition, Examples, and 12 Types (2023)

What is the definition of Genre?

Genre is a label that tells audience members what to expect from our stories.

It is a clear framework to catalog all stories and helps writers give audience members what they are hoping for—and more. The genres of writing choices are the most important ones we need to make.

When people use the term genre, they often refer to different story elements at different times. They might mean the content of the story, the medium through which the story is presented, or even its sales category.

Without clear definitions, these labels don’t help us deliver what readers want when they choose to read, watch, or listen to a particular story.

In the Story Grid Universe, we break genre into five clear categories to help us identify, meet, and innovate story requirements. Understanding genre helps us delight audiences by meeting their expectations in unexpected ways.

Genres of Writing: Definition, Examples, and 12 Types (1)

Download Our In-depth Guide to Genre

This 99-page book written by Story Grid founder Shawn Coyne, walks you step-by-step through each of the twelve genres and what you need in your story to make it work.

Genre Categories: Introducing the Story Grid Genre 5-Leaf Clover

The Story Grid Genre 5-Leaf Clover is the tool we use to define the genres of writing in our stories. Each of the five leaves helps us determine a different element of a story’s experience. It helps to think of the five categories visually, so we present them as a five-leaf clover.

Genres of Writing: Definition, Examples, and 12 Types (2)

The goal of the Genre Five-Leaf Clover is to help us think about how each element or leaf comes together to form the global story. We can check our stories to make sure we are using the best combination possible to deliver a satisfying story experience.

By defining the specific genres and their conventions, we can start to look for each element within masterworks and study to understand ways of meeting these expectations within our own stories.

(Video) Literary Genres and Subgenres (Fiction, Nonfiction, Drama, and Poetry) - Video and Worksheet

1. What is the Time Genre?

The TIME GENRE indicates how the reader experiences the time it takes to go from the beginning to the end of our stories. It answers how long the story will take to consume.

There are three categories of the Time Genre our stories can fall into: Short, Medium, and Long form.

Read more about the Time Genre.

2. What is the Structure Genre?

The STRUCTURE GENRE indicates to our reader who or what the change of the story will affect. It addresses whether the change will occur for a single AVATAR or throughout the whole system or context.

There are three categories of the Structure Genre our stories can fall into: Archplot, Miniplot, and Antiplot.

Read more about the Structure Genre.

3. What is the Style Genre?

The STYLE GENRE sets the tone for what the audience will experience during the story. It puts constraints on what we include in the story to keep a consistent feel so the audience does not get confused.

This genre leaf is divided into two broad categories and several mediums. The broad categories are Drama and Comedy. The mediums include Documentary, Musical, Dance, Literary, Theatrical, Cinematic, Epistolary, and Animation.

Read more about the Style Genre.

4. What is the Reality Genre?

The REALITY GENRE constrains the way the ALTERNATE WORLD of our story operates by establishing codes, laws, and norms. It dictates how much readers must suspend disbelief when building the worlds of our stories in their minds.

There are four categories of the Reality Genre our stories can fall into: Absurdism, Factualism, Realism, and Fantasy.

(Video) "What is a Genre?": A Literary Guide for English Students and Teachers

Read more about the Reality Genre.

5. What is the Content Genre?

The CONTENT GENRE defines what is contained in a story and specifically determines the need and VALUE at stake. It sets expectations for the reader using the FOUR CORE FRAMEWORK, CONVENTIONS, and OBLIGATORY MOMENTS. The Content Genre is divided into two sections: external and internal.

The external content genres of writing are:

Action Genre

An external story in the Action genre focuses on the protagonist’s sacrifice for positive movement along the death / lifeVALUE spectrum while generating feelings of excitement in the reader.

In Action stories, readers see the lengths the protagonist will go to protect themselves and/or other potential victims.

Read our in-depth article on the Action Genre.

War Genre

An external story in the War genre focuses on the self-actualization of the protagonist through the expression of the gifts of love and self-sacrifice. Each AVATAR can act heroically by defending fellow warriors honorably in the face of horrific pain and loss.

Read our in-depth article on the War Genre.

Horror Genre

An external story in the Horror genre focuses on the ability of a protagonist to self-actualize through the expression of the gift of courage and selflessness in the face of fear. The Horror genre pits a single victim (even though there may be multiple AVATARS) against impossible odds and a supernatural, scientifically explainable or ambiguous monster possessed by evil and intent on annihilation.

Read our in-depth article on the Horror Genre.

Crime Genre

An external story in the Crime genre focuses on the Justice / Injustice spectrum while generating feelings in the reader of intrigue (solving the puzzle) and security or personal safety when the perpetrator is exposed.

(Video) Genre Meaning with Examples

Read our in-depth article on the Crime Genre.

Thriller Genre

An external story in the Thriller genre focuses on the protagonist’s need for safety. This leads the reader to identify with the protagonist, who seeks to defeat an antagonist that personifies evil.

Thriller stories blend elements of three other genres as the powerful individual protagonist from theACTIONgenre faces the embodiment of evil (the monster) from theHORRORgenre in a story about unmasking an antagonist who has committed a crime against society, as in theCRIMEgenre. The protagonist ends up as a victim and faces damnation if they fail to identify and defeat the villain.

Read our in-depth article on the Thriller Genre.

Western/Eastern Genre

An external story in the Western or Eastern genres focuses on the conflict between the individual and society. It turns on thesubjugation / freedomspectrum while generating feelings of intrigue in the reader.

Read our in-depth article on the Western/Eastern Genre.

Love Genre

An external story in the Love genre focuses on the need for connection in a variety of forms, including desire, commitment, and intimacy, allowing readers to identify with the lovers as protagonists and respond to the fulfillment of the couple’s fate on the hate-love spectrum with a feeling of romance.

Read our in-depth article on the Love Genre.

Performance Genre

An external story in the Performance genre focuses on the outward expression of the protagonist’s internal gifts and need for approval. It turns on theshame / respectspectrum while generating feelings of triumph in the reader.

Read our in-depth article on the Performance Genre.

Society Genre

An external story in the Society genre focuses the protagonist’s need for recognition in a disenfranchised group. It turns on the impotence / power spectrum while generating feelings of triumph or righteous indignation depending on whether the Revolution succeeds or fails.

(Video) Movie Genres Explained — Types of Films & the Art of Subverting Film Genres

Read our in-depth article on the Society Genre.

The internal content genres of writing are:


An internal story in the Status genre focuses on the protagonist’s need for respect. These stories turn on the failure / success spectrum while generating feelings of admiration or pity in the reader, depending on the outcome.

Read our in-depth article on the Status Genre.


An internal story in the Morality genre focuses on the choice to act on behalf of ourselves or others and the consequences of that choice. It turns on theselfishness / altruismspectrum while providing feelings in the reader of satisfaction or contempt.

Read our in-depth article on the Morality Genre.


An internal story, Worldview genres focus on the lens through which we view the world and the consequences of those lens choices. It turns on thenaivete/sophisticationspectrum, while providing readers with feelings of relief at the protagonist’s emerging whole from a threat to their internal status quo, or pity for a less fortunate avatar.

Read our in-depth article on the Worldview Genre.

Additional Resources for Genres of Writing:

  • Story Grid 101: The First Five Principles of the Story Grid Methodology by Shawn Coyne
  • The Four Core Framework: Needs, Life Values, Emotions and Events in Storytelling by Shawn Coyne

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(Video) Literary Genres: Fiction Part 1


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What are examples of genre in writing? ›

The main kinds of literary genre that you might be familiar with are fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. But those are the biggest categories we can think of, really. For example, non-fiction can encompass everything from a memoir, to a to a biography, to an instruction manual.

What are the genres of writing define each? ›

Define genre in literature: Genre is the classification and organization of literary works into the following categories: poetry, drama, prose, fiction, and nonfiction. The works are divided based on their form, content, and style.

What are genre and examples? ›

A genre is a specific type of music, film, or writing. Your favorite literary genre might be science fiction, and your favorite film genre might be horror flicks about cheerleaders. Go figure. In music, genre refers to musical style such as jazz, salsa or rock.

How many genres of writing are there list them? ›

there are only five main kinds of writing: expository, descriptive, persuasive, narrative, and journal or letter writing. Each writing genre has its own unique purpose and requires different skills.

What are the 10 genre of text information? ›

They are narrative, recount, descriptive, report, explanation, analytical exposition, hortatory exposition, procedure, discussion, review, anecdote, spoof, and news item. These variations are known as GENRES.

What are the 7 types of writing? ›

Different Types of Writing Table of Contents
  • Narrative Writing.
  • Descriptive Writing.
  • Persuasive Writing.
  • Expository Writing.
Oct 14, 2022

What are the 6 main genres? ›

There a six genres of writing: descriptive, expository, persuasive, narrative, technical and poetic.

What are the 5 genres of writing? ›

Learn about the major writing styles: narrative, descriptive, persuasive, expository, and creative, and read examples of each.

What are the 8 types of writing? ›

List Of Eight Different Types Of Writing Styles
  • Descriptive Writing. People often assume that descriptive writing is about using fancy and flowery phrases. ...
  • Persuasive Writing. ...
  • Narrative Writing. ...
  • Expository Writing. ...
  • Review Writing. ...
  • Technical Writing. ...
  • Objective Writing. ...
  • Subjective Writing.

What are the 10 types of text structure? ›

Examples of text structures include: sequence/process, description, time order/chronology, proposition/support, compare/contrast, problem/solution, cause/effect, inductive/deductive, and investigation.

What type of genre is informational text? ›

Informational text is nonfiction writing, written with the intention of informing the reader about a specific topic. It is typically found in magazines, science or history books, autobiographies and instruction manuals.

What genre is an information text? ›

Informational text is a subset of the larger category of nonfiction (Duke & Bennett-Armistead, 2003). Its primary purpose is to inform the reader about the natural or social world. Different from fiction, and other forms of nonfiction, informational text does not utilize characters.

What are 5 examples of informational texts? ›

Examples of Information Texts
  • biographies.
  • non-chronological reports;
  • essays.
  • newspapers;
  • magazines;
  • textbooks;
  • instruction manuals;
  • recipes.


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