Characters and Brain Cells

I’m welcoming today my long-time friend, Barbara Derksen. She’s a multi-published author. Readers, do welcome her with your comments and be sure to leave an email addy that you MIGHT JUST WIN a copy of her book: Wicked Disregard. 

The mind fogs. Characters trip over dead branches in one story and hide behind the folds ofIMG_1460-1 a burka in another. Each has their antagonists, BFF’s, and ministry but most importantly, they have the Lord. My eyes dull. My mind races ahead of itself, trying to find out what’s happening to people who’ve become my friends. My characters teeter behind one brain cell after another in flight but also in pursuit.
I’m sure I’ve not adequately explained the mind of a writer, but I’m sure all of you understand that dualism we participate in. We walk around looking perfectly normal, smiling when we should, eating when we ought to, and sweeping the floor when it needs it. People raise their eyebrows when they discover we are writers, looking as if to say, “But you look so normal.”
When describing the premise for a new mystery series, I watched as the listener furrowed his brow and asked, “Where do you come up with this stuff?” Another person comments, “You’re sick.” There are times…but I love getting my characters into a pickle and then finding devious, heretofore not thought of, ways to extricate their endangered body from the mess. I love discovering new devices, pieces of equipment, or anything that will aid their attempts. My body tingles in excited anticipation as readers ask ahead of time, “Do they survive?”
Writing has been an adventure from the beginning…whether I’m writing a devotional, a mystery, or a children’s book. Taking an idea, expanding on it and then watching it become what God intended in the first place, is an adventure that careens around corners fraught with typos, POV issues, and other editing giants. The polish for the story becomes the polish for my soul as I grow spiritually and as a writer, all at the same time.
During these beautiful days of spring, as the weather remains so perfect, it’s hard to remain disciplined…to keep at it. But then, the drama in my head draws me back. I compromise by opening the patio door near my desk. I let the day’s warmth penetrate while my character reaches to trust her Savior again in a new situation that seeks to destroy.


ABOUT her Book:

CD front of book copyPedophiles and prostitutes, the last thing Christine Smith envisioned when she embarked on a career to find missing children. Will she end her work as an investigator and run the company left to her by her dead Father?
Now she’s been shot! How does her growing relationship with God change her outlook on life? Christine and Jeremy follow the clues in this, the third book in the Finders Keepers mystery series. In Wicked Disregard, they unravel a ring of vicious pedophiles while Christine continues to search for the identity of the man who ordered the death of her parents.
Buy her book here:
About Barbara:
Seeking to encourage, inspire, and invite, Barbara Ann Derksen writes about Kingdom living characters who live in a not-so Kingdom world. She has been scrambling letters into enjoyable fiction and non-fiction for over 20 years, and has been a published writer since 2003. Her readers share how the books are hard to put down, keep them up at night reading long after lights out, and spur them on to a closer walk with their Lord.


Her favorite genre is mystery so, to thrill her readers, she composes a new one every year.

  • She has just completed the four book series, The Wilton Strait Mystery Series, now available through her website, on Amazon in Canada, Europe, and the US, and through Amazon’s Kindle store as e-books, as well as Smashwords for e-book readers other than Kindle. Vanished, Presumed DeadFear Not, and Silence are a series that provides hours of entertainment, food for thought, and keep her readers wanting more.
  • The first book in the Finders Keepers Series was released the spring of 2013.
Barbara has also penned a devotional series with six books to her credit so far. While these

devotionals target bikers, the words in them inspire people in all walks of life with a variety of interests.

  • Straight Pipes,
  • Two-Up,
  • Chrome,
  • Chaps,
  • Road Trip, and
  • More Than Bells take readers where God meets with them and encourages them to walk closer to Him, heed His words, and share their faith with others. The books are discipling tools sought after for those who want to make a spiritual difference in someone’s life.
  • Her latest devotional on Prayer released in the spring of 2013.
Children’s stories are a natural by-product of having grandchildren. For Barbara, the fun begins when she envisions an animal character with characteristics very much like one of her grandchildren.
  • Shih-Tzu Puppy Adventures, once in audio book form only, has been turned into an early chapter book for third grade readers.
  • Scruffles Finds a Home, her only Christmas story, was commissioned by a real Santa’s Castle in Iowa and is an enjoyable read during the Holiday season.
  • Trumpeter Swan Adventures, still in audio book form, is educational as well as entertaining.
  • A new children’s story Squirrels Are People, Too was released 2014.
Barbara has two other non-fiction books:
  • Dance With a Broom is a household management guide for busy parents. Purchased widely as a stocking stuffer or a shower gift, it gives young parents some tools and food for thought.
  • Second to None is a collection of real life combat stories submitted to Barbara by members of the Second Infantry Division of the US army. These stories seek to honor the veterans who served to preserve our freedoms.
Barbara is a member of Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church in Steinbach, Manitoba, Authors of Manitoba Writer’s Group, and John 316 Network Marketing writer’s group. She attends a writer’s group in Winnipeg once a month, and speaks about writing to various writers groups around the province. She has attended several Colorado Christian Writers Conferences in Estes Park, Colorado and taken courses from other sources to perfect her craft.
Barbara and her husband, Henry, have been married for 47 years, have four children, and eleven grandchildren. Henry is a singer/songwriter with 8 CDs to his name. His soothing country gospel melodies encourage and entertain … words that come from his heart to God’s ears
Connect with Barbara here:
Twitter: BarbaraADerksen


Readers, be sure to leave a comment and an email addy that you MIGHT JUST WIN a copy of her book: Wicked Disregard. 

Thanks for joining us, Barbara!

Contemporary Literary Genre

Contemporary Literary genre is a misnomer because it really is the absence of a genre. But there are several ways you can tell if a work of fiction fits in this category. Some say that literary fiction is driven more by character while genre fiction is driven by plot. That’s not really true because some very good genre fiction relies more on character than plot. Another falsehood is that literary fiction has a higher quality of writing. But many genre fiction authors are very good writers. If you think about the classic authors of the past, most of them wrote genre fiction.

The first way to distinguish contemporary/literary fiction is that it will have universal truths and emotions we all experience. It gives expression to our emotions.  

Most contemporary/literary fiction is also realistic meaning it has the following characteristics:

It contains characters that behave the way most readers would. The characters must be believable.

The story is set in the present.

The setting is a real place or at least seems like a real place.

The events are events that could happen in real life.

Dialogue is informal and conversational and often includes regional dialects.

There aren’t any sub-genre of Contemporary/Literary fiction because it is the absence of genre that makes this category. The minute you add mystery or aliens, it ceases to fit here. Some examples of Contemporary/Literary fiction are “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonngut, “Atonement: A Novel” by Ian McEwan, and “White Noise” by Don DiLillo. Many of the classic modern novels of the past by writers like Hemmingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald also fit in this category.

Western Genre

The Western Genre is set in the old West of the United States, west of the Mississippi River before the year 1900. It’s usually between 45,000 and 75,000 words long. Westerns have had a great impact on American culture. Westerns typify the rugged individualism that built the nation. They are part history, part myth, and part American culture.

The Virginian, published 1902, is considered by many to be the ground-breaking literary western novel, containing the central element of a rugged individual who stick to his guns in the face of trouble, neglecting chances to simply walk away. The elements of this blueprint appear in most Western stories ever since.

Westerns normally have the following elements:

Romanticized History: The cowboy, the gun fighter, the judge, ranchers, stage coaches, cattle drives, “Indians,” the greedy rancher or railroad tycoon, the outlaw, and the lawman are a part of the myth and culture of America’s past.

Guns: The man who comes into town with a gun in hand to shoot it up with the bad guys is a familiar theme.

When Men Were Men: Manly men who fought for right have been a resounding element of Westerns. Only recently have female main characters been introduced.

Adventure: Westerns are about adventure, about surviving the elements and battling Indians and outlaws.

Happy Ending: Justice is done. The hero may not survive, but the wicked are punished.

Easy Reads: Good Westerns are short with straight-forward plots and a single story line.


Chase: Plot that focuses on the chase of an individual or group. The hero may seek to recover something lost or gain vengeance. The hero may be chased by the bad guys or be chasing the bad guys. Some sort of quest would also fall into this category.

Christian: Western stories without the bad language, sexuality, and graphic violence where the main characters find that Christianity solves problems and brings people together.

Comic: Stories contain bumbling good and bad characters, that are funny.

Contemporary: Western novel set after 1900.

Historical: These westerns are usually a little longer with attention to historic details and events.

Indian Wars: Stories that tell of the wars between the Native Americans and those who came West.

Mountain Men: Stories about mountain men and trappers and their lonely lives.

Mysteries: Stories that contain the usual mystery elements but are set in the West, and contain the trappings of the western.

Native American: Stories told from the viewpoint of the Native American.

Ranch Life: Stories focusing on life on the cattle or sheep ranch with emphasis on the nature of daily life.

Romantic Westerns: These are sometimes called Prairie Romances. They involve romantic story lines set in the Old West.

Saga: A story that follows family members through several generations.

Traditional: These are the traditional Westerns using the dime store novel format. Some of the most famous Western writers are in this category including Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey.

Trail Drive: Story focuses on a cattle drive.

Vengence: Stories that focus on revenge or the righting of a terrible wrong.

Wagon Train: Stories focusing on the trials of those who went west in the wagons.

Historical Genre

Historical genre novels are set at least fifty years in the past. The story usually concerns a historical event or period of time. Because historicals are set in different periods of time, each period is sometimes considered a sub-genre. But if you separate historical fiction by time periods, you could end up with thousands of sub-genres.

The best historical genre novels have the historical period they’re set in as a vital part of the story. Strive to make the time period come alive. You don’t want to write a historical where the story would work in present day as easily as it would in the time period it is set in.

Historicals are usually 80,000 to 100,000 words but are sometimes longer. Those who read historicals expect them to be steeped in research of the time period. You don’t want to make the mistake of having a person from the 1860’s drink a glass of iced tea when it was introduced at the world’s fair in 1904. Mistakes like that will cost you readers.

Historicals also should be written with the mindset of the period of time you’re writing about. For instance, don’t give a Viking from the middle-ages a mindset of a twenty-first century American who wants to avoid bloodshed. The typical Viking had no problem with being bloodthirsty. Also, a man on the trail in the old West would look at you strange if you suggested he try being a vegetarian or avoid wearing fur. Historical readers have no tolerance for giving characters mindsets that don’t go with the period of time you’re writing about.

Historical Sub-categories:

As mentioned before, historical novels can be divided according to time period and setting, but a better way is to categorize them according to types of historicals.

Historical Saga: The historical saga covers a broad period of time and can deal with families over several generations. John Jakes and James Michener are two example of saga authors.

Historical Romance: Historical romances are very popular with Christian booksellers. These stories are about the relationship between a man and woman. The difference between this and a Romance with a historical sub-genre is the romance is set in the past but could easily be placed in present times. A true historical romance has the time period and setting as an important part of the story. “Mark of the Lion Series” and “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers are two good examples of this.

Historical Adventure: This is a story that takes place in history and brings the characters along for an exciting adventure. Suspense, angst, and drama can be a part of these stories, and many times they cover a specific event in history like the Civil War or World War II. “Masada” by Ernest Gann would be an example of a historical adventure. Most westerns also fit in this category.

Cross-Genre: Historical novels can have any genre as it’s sub-category if the story is set in the past such as mystery, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. Any genre will work. “The Falconer Series” by Ian Morsen is an example of a historical mystery.

Women’s Fiction Genre

Women’s fiction genre is the genre that targets women as their readers. They are about issues and relationships, not necessarily romance, and about strong female protagonists at a crossroad in their lives. The stories should connect with women reader’s lives on an emotional level. 

Women’s fiction usually 80,000 to 100,000 words and has multiple point-of-view subplots that are deeper, more descriptive, and more introspective than romance novels. Although there may be romance, the man is not given equal time as he is in romance novels. These are novels about women.

Women’s fiction touches its reader at a more emotional level. As stated, the stories are about relationships, generational sagas and love stories, but more importantly the stories should touch on things that women readers can connect with in their own lives.

Karen Kingsbury, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Anne Rivers Siddons, Anne Tyler, and Nora Roberts are examples of authors who write good women’s fiction.

Sub-categories of Women’s Fiction: 

Romance: Romance in women’s fiction is different than in the romance genre. This romance doesn’t always play be the rules. It’s a story about a woman who is in love and how that influences her life. In a women’s fiction romance, there can be subplots that have nothing to do with the romance but are a part of the heroine’s story. And it doesn’t have to end with the woman walking off in the sunset with the man of her dreams. It will have a satisfying ending, but it may not be a happy ever after one like in romance novels.

Love Stories: Love stories are different than romances in one very fundamental way. They are tear-jerkers. In a love story, somebody is going to die. Nicholas Sparks is the master of this sub-genre.

Chick-lit: The main difference between chick-lit and traditional women’s fiction is the tone. Chick-lit is lighter and more humorous and is geared toward women in the twenties and thirties. Many times, it’s also shorter, usually 50,000 to 70,000 words. It usually has an urban setting and involves protagonists who struggle to advance professionally and love shopping.

Historical: This is women’s fiction in a historical setting.

Amish: Amish women’s fiction is very popular amoung Christian fiction, but a secular publishing company is now coming out with a line of Amish novels. This involves stories about women in the Amish community. Beverly Lewis is the best known author of Amish novels.

Heroine: These novels usually involve a strong woman or group of women fighting to protect their families or the rights of others. Basically this is the heroine risking all to defend the helpless.

Romance Genre

The romance genre is the strictest of genres allowing no deviation from the rules. Although romance can be considered a sub-category in almost every genre, for a novel to be considered a romance, the story must be about a woman and a man and developing a romantic love relationship between them.

The point of view can only be from these two characters, and the conflict is what tries to keep them apart. Both characters must be introduced in the first two chapters.

Also, a romance has to have a happy ending where the two characters get together. Many Christian romances end with marriage or a marriage proposal.

If any of these criteria aren’t met, the story isn’t considered a romance but instead a story with romantic elements. In a romance, the romance is the main story. If you take away the relationship between the two main characters, there is no story.

Romance is one of the most popular genres in Christian fiction as well as secular fiction. Secular romances are likely to have scenes where the characters get together physically. Usually such scenes are absent in Christian fiction.

A stand alone romance is usually between 80,000 and 100,000 words. A category romance (i.e.: Harlequin Romance) is usually between 50,000 and 60,000 words.

Here are some sub-categories for the romance genre:

Contemporary Romance: This is any romance that takes place in the present time.

Fantasy Romance: This is any romance taking place in another world or using magic or fantasy as elements of the story.

Futuristic Romance: Any romance taking place in the distant future.

Glitz/Glamour Romance: These romances take place among the elite and the rich and famous.

Historical Romance: This is a romance taking place in the past. It has sub-genres within itself that include these: American West, American Colonial, American Civil War, American Revolution, American Reconstruction, Native American, Australian Colonial, European Dark Ages, Early European Renaissance, French Revolution, Celtic, Medieval England, Middle Ages England, Victorian England and Regency England.

Medieval Romance: Knights in shining armor rescue damsels in distress in medieval settings.

Pirate Romance: This is a romance that involves swash-buckling pirate captains and feisty heroines willing to risk all to be with them.

Regency Romance: These romance stories set in England in the early 1800s. They usual focus on society of that day.

Romantic Comedy: These are romances that involve comedy.

Romantic Suspense: These are romances involving an element of suspense or mystery. Even in these, the romance is the main story.

Time-travel romance: Romance takes place across two different time periods, with one or more characters “time-traveling” between both.

Viking Romance: Viking Romances center around characters from early Nordic cultures.

Western Romance: These are romances set in the American ‘old west’.

Young Adult: Romances with teenagers as the main characters.

Speculative Genre

Speculative has been used as a catch phrase for horror, science fiction, and fantasy. While these are sub-categories of this genre, speculative fiction is a genre in its own right, and some speculative novels have nothing to do with these common subcategories. Speculative fiction involves an unusual story using fantastic happening. Sometimes these stories have a spiritual aspect to them, particularly in Christian fiction and stories involving magic, but not always. What these stories always have is the question, “What if?”

Orson Scott Card Quote (See How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, Writer’s Digest Books, 1990, p. 17)

Speculative Fiction includes all stories that take place in a setting contrary to known reality. This includes:

  1. All stories set in the future, because the future can’t be known. Out-of-date futures, like that depicted in the novel 1984, simply shift from the “future” category to:
  2. All stories set in the historical past that contradict known facts of history or “alternate world” stories.
  3. All stories set on other worlds, because we’ve never gone there. Whether “future humans” take part in the story or not, if it isn’t Earth, it belongs to fantasy and science fiction.
  4. All stories supposedly set on Earth, but before recorded history and contradicting the known archaeological record–stories about visits from ancient aliens, or ancient civilizations that left no trace, or, “lost kingdoms” surviving into modern times.
  5. All stories that contradict some known or supposed law of nature. Obviously, fantasy that uses magic falls into this category, but so does much science fiction: time travel stories, for instance, or invisible-man stories.

I would add one more to this list. Christian fiction which covers the spiritual realm such as miracles, prophecies, apocalyptic themes, demons, angel, and other spiritual beings would also be classified as Speculative.


Alternate History: Stories where history changes. Example: “Guns of the South” by Harry Turtledove.

Apocalypse/Holocaust: The end of the world as we know, the world being destroyed, or end times prophecies being fulfilled.  Example: The Left Behind Series.

Coming of Age: The human race takes a big evolutionary leap. Example: “Emergence” by David R Palmer.

Contemporary Fantasy/Magical Realism: This is set in the modern world but has spiritual or supernatural forces involved. Examples in the Christian realm are Frank Peretti’s “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness”. An occult example is “The Harry Potter Series”.

Cyberpunk: This is a science fiction sub-genre that involves virtual reality and technology changing society. Example: “Neuromancer” by William Gibson

Dystopian: Dysfuntional utopias. Example: “The Giver” by Lowis Lowry

Fairy Tales/Light Fantasy: These stories have a lesson built into them and usually include fairies, elves, animals with human traits, goblins, trolls, or enchantments and charms, set in a rustic setting. “The Hobbit” or “Lord of the Rings” by TR Tolkien are examples. So is “The Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis.

Horror/Dark Fantasy: These stories have dark themes. Example: “Interview With a Vampire” by Anne Rice.

First Contact: These are stories about how we react to being confronted by an alien species for the first time. Example: “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin

Futuristic: These stories tell of a future shaped by events of today going in a certain direction. “1984” by George Orwell was one of the best in this sub-genre.

Science Fiction: This involves future technologies and space exploration. I’ll give examples of this when I post about the Science Fiction genre.

Slipstream: This sub-genre is set in our world but distorts things in some way. Example: “White Noise” by Don DeDillo

Steampunk: Take a Victorian setting and give it modern technology, and you have steampunk. Example: “The Difference Engine” by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

Suspense/Thriller Genre

The suspense/thriller genre is closer connected to the mystery genre, but the perspective is different. A mystery genre starts with a crime that needs to be solved. Suspense starts with what’s at stake. It creates drama before the crisis event. For a good suspense to work, the reader has to know learn what the protagonist is up to and what’s at stake if he fails. Dean Koontz is a master at suspense. In “The Husband”, we learn in the first scene that somebody has kidnapped the protagonist wife. The story is who did it but what’s at stake if the protagonist fails.

The suspense writer must create tension by inserting a strong protagonist and developing inventive story developments that avert a certain outcome. The suspense/thriller is usually told in 3rd person multiple points of view. Every scene is fast paced and ends with a cliffhanger or ticking clock that makes the reader want to turn the page. It also needs to be filled with misdirection to keep the reader guessing. It’s generally 90,000 to 100,000 words long.

Good suspense never lets up. It’s a fast-paced pressure cooker that builds the tension from the beginning and keeps it up until the end.

This article from Writer’s Digest Online shows nine ways to keep the suspense high in your story.

Suspense/Thriller Subcategories:

Suspense/Thriller Subcategories often overlap. Here are some of them.

Action/Adventure: This contains a race against the clock with lots of violence, and an obvious antagonist. Think sword fight, gun battles, and explosions.

Conspiracy: The hero discovers a conspiracy among a powerful group of enemies, but he can’t prove it, and nobody will believe him.

Crime: A crime of series of crimes is committed. The difference between this and the mystery genre is the perpetrator is clear immediately. Sometimes this genre focuses on the criminal instead of the hero and usually focuses on action rather than psychological aspects.  

Disaster: The main conflict is due to an act of nature.  

Horror: Horror main intent is to illicit fear in the reader.

Drama: These suspense stories are usually a little slower paced and rely on character development more than plot.

Eco-thriller: These stories involve environmental aspects. The antagonist is usually a corporation or government official whose actions cause havoc on the environment.

Legal: The hero is a lawyer, and some or most of the setting takes place in a courtroom.

Medical: This is a suspense novel that revolves around medical personnel.  

Political: The hero or antagonist is an agent of the government.

Psychological: The conflict between the main characters is mental and emotional, rather than physical.

Spy: The good guy is usually a spy fighting against terrorists, plots to overthrow the government, or evil regimes.

Techno-thriller: These usually involve the military. 

Romance: A suspense/thriller that has an element of romance.

Because some of the sub-categories overlap, I didn’t list many authors there. These are some examples of Suspense/Thriller Authors are Dean Koontz, Ian Fleming, Ted Decker, James Scott Bell, Tom Clancy,  Dee Henderson, Brandilyn Collins, Stephen King, Dan Brown, TL Hines, James Patterson, Paulo Coelho, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Terry Brennan, and Robert Ludlum.

Mystery Genre

The mystery genre is one of the most popular genres of fiction next to romance. A genre mystery usually focuses on a crime, most often murder. This crime must be introduced early in the novel. The main character has to solve the crime by the end of the story.

A good mystery is like a puzzle. The reader expects to try to solve the mystery alongside the main character. Many times there are false clues scattered throughout the pages. But the puzzle must solved by the main character by the end of the book.

A mystery varies in length between 75,000 and 100,000 words. Cozy mysteries are usually a little shorter.

Mysteries have a number of subcategories including the following:

Whodunit: This was the first mystery sub-genre. The story focuses on a detective who works to discover hidden clues and solve the crime, usually murder. Whodunits are written in one point of view, usually the  main character and almost always in first person. Famous whodunit authors include Nicholas Blake, Simon Brett, and Lawrence Block.

Amateur Detective: In this sub-genre, the main character is not a police detective but is very invested in solving the crime. Often the protagonist is related to or friends with the victim. Famous Amateur Detective authors include Agatha Christie, Peter S. Fischer, Ellery Queen, and E.C. Bentley.

Cozy Mystery: The Cozy Mystery sub-genre is similar to the Amateur Detective Mystery. In a Cozy Mystery the amateur detective who is usually a women, although in one series it was a cat, who lives in a small town or village where she knows everyone. All the suspects also know everyone. The main character is a likable, nosy, and trustworthy person who people feel comfortable revealing their secrets to. Usually the protagonist knows somebody in the police department who helps her gain the information she needs. Cozies never reveal gory or violent details, and sex is always behind closed doors. Because of that, this is the most common Christian Mystery. Murder She Wrote is a TV show that is catagorized as a Cozy Mystery. AK Arenz is a popular Christian Cozy Mystery author. Some other famous Cozy Mystery authors are Susan Dunlap and Ellen Crosby.

Private Detective: In these novels, the victim seeks the help of a private eye. Crimes are more violent in these novels, and there are usually dark themes involved. Some Private Detective authors are Sue Grafton and Lawrence Sanders. and Arthur Conon Doyle. John Robinson has written some Christian Novels in this genre. You can read about him here, and his books here, here, and here.

Medical Mystery: In this sub-genre, the crime usually takes place in a hospital or medical setting, and the crime usually involves medical personnel who commit the crimes. Most writers in this genre have a medical background. Some famous Medical Mystery writers are Robin Cook and Patricia Cornwell.

Courtroom Drama: For this sub-genre, think Perry Mason. The protagonist is an attorney, usually a defense attorney representing a client he or she believes is innocent. The lawyer solves the crime to win the case. Famous Courtroom Drama authors are John Grisham and Richard North Patterson.

Suspense/Thriller: Although the Suspense/Thriller is a genre of its own, it can also be a sub-genre of Mystery. It combines psychological motives and monstrous crimes. The protagonist is a good at heart person who faces a formidable adversary and must call on everything within him to face this antagonist. This is a classic good versus evil tale with a mystery to be solved. Some famous Suspense/Thriller authors are Dean Koontz, Brandilyn Collins, John Saul, and Michael Connelly.

Technical Thriller: The crime and mystery in this sub-genre revolves around a technical setting. It will always expose threats involving technology. Some Technical Thriller authors are Tom Clancy, Stephen Coonts, Dan Brown, and Larry Bond.

Genres In Fiction

For the next few weeks, we will explore fiction genres and their subcategories. Genres are fluid things. They change from time to time, and sometimes a novel fits in more than one genre. But publishers use genres to define fiction to their readers, and readers use genre to choose what books they like to read. So genre is important. Please take a moment to take the favorite genre quiz on the sidebar of this blog.

The following is a list of genres I will cover in upcoming posts. It is not meant to be a complete list. There are some genres I don’t want to even blog about let alone read like erotica, gay and lesbian, occult, etc. But it does cover most people’s favorites.

Age Classifications: There are three age classifications.

Children – Ages Birth to Twelve

Young Adult – Ages Twelve to Twenty-five

Adult – Eighteen and Above


Science Fiction: Stories often tell about science and technology. It is important to note that science fiction has a relationship with the principles of science—these stories involve partially true-partially fictitious laws or theories of science. It should not be completely unbelievable, because it then ventures into the genre fantasy.

Fantasy: Stories are often characterized by a departure from the accepted rules by which individuals perceive the world around them; it represents that which is impossible (unexplained) and outside the parameters of our known, reality. Make-believe is what this genre is all about.

Speculative: This is a catch-all term meant to inclusively span the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to horror to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern myth-making — and more. Many times, it has a spiritual or supernatural element to it.

Romance: Romantic Fiction has two strict criteria: The first is that the story must focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people. Secondly, the end of the story must be positive, leaving the reader believing that the protagonists’ love and relationship will endure for the rest of their lives. If those two criteria are not met, it’s not considered a romance.

Women’s Fiction: Stories that generally appeal more to women than men. Usually the stories involve relationships, emotions, and a female main character.

Mystery: Intrique, who-done-it’s, crime solving are major ingredients of the mystery genre. Basically the main character has a mystery or crime to solve.

Thriller/Suspense: This genre is characterized by “the sudden rush of emotions, the excitement, sense of suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace.” In short, a thriller thrills. How? Mostly through skillful plotting. This is sometimes called men’s fiction because it’s believed to appeal more to men.

Historical: Any story that takes place more than twenty years ago is considered historical.

Contemporary: Any fiction where the story takes place in the present.

Comedy: Any story that seeks to invoke laughter.