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The Five Main Genres of Literature

Five Main Genres of Literature

Understanding the differences between various types of literature can be difficult. Today, Vista Higher Learning is breaking down the differences to give you a crash course on the five main genres of literature.

#1 Fiction

One of the most popular genres of literature, fiction, features imaginary characters and events.

This genre is often broken up into five subgenres: fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, mystery, and science fiction.

Nonetheless, there are more than just five types of fiction, ranging from romance to graphic novels.

In fantasy, the characters or settings could not exist in the world as we know it because they require a sort of “magical” element.

The Harry Potter and Twilight series are popular examples.

Historical fiction, however, features made-up stories that accurately portray life during a particular period in history.

Examples include books such as The Da Vinci Code or The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

Similar to historical fiction is the subgenre of contemporary fiction.

In this category, stories take place in the present day and characters encounter modern day difficulties and issues.

The Hate U Give and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants are popular contemporary fiction novels.

Another popular subgenre of fiction is mystery. In these suspense-filled stories, characters use various clues to solve crimes or uncover a culprit.

The Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes novels are prime examples of the mystery genre.

The last subgenre of fiction is science fiction.

In these types of stories, authors and readers explore new and exciting realities made possible by imagined technologies or social changes.

Star Wars is one of the most famous examples.

#2 Nonfiction

Unlike fiction, nonfiction tells the story of real people and events. Examples include biographies, autobiographies, or memoirs.

#3 Drama

Another popular category of literature, known as drama or play, is a story created specifically for a stage performance.

The most renowned author of drama was William Shakespeare—the writer of Macbeth, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet.

More modern plays include A Streetcar Named Desire and A Raisin in the Sun.

#4 Poetry

The fourth genre of literature is poetry. In this style of writing, words are arranged in a metrical pattern and often (though not always) in rhymed verse.

Renowned poets include e.e. cummings, Robert Frost, and Maya Angelou.

#5 Folktale 

Another beloved genre of literature is folktale. Folktale, which is also referred to as mythology, tells stories of originally oral literature and are meant to pass on particular moral lessons.

These tales often have a timeless quality, dealing with common concerns that are relevant despite the time period.

Did this help you differentiate between the various types of literature? Tune into our blog for similar content in the upcoming weeks.

Read also: How to Help Students with Language Learning Anxiety

By Erika Semprun


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