Sticks & Stones with Amy Eye: Genre Roles

Sticks and Stones with AmyDid you guys miss me?

Well, I really couldn’t wait to get back on here and tackle the blogging again! I hope the feeling of wonder and fun I have while doing this never goes buh-bye.

I love getting to share my ideas and thoughts with all of you, and I hope you have as much fun as I do, and maybe even learn something from time to time!

Last week, we started in on the talk about genres, and we really only scratched the surface. We could literally tear this apart for months… BUT… (there is always a but) I have so many things I would love to talk to you all about that I’m going to wrap up a general genre list for you all here. Remember, I have done my research on this, and I learned a few things along the way.

One – there are many interpretations of what the genres are. Two – there are even more genres being created to fit so many new styles of writing that have emerged since self-publishing really hit the mainstream. Three – Don’t take what I say as gospel. No one is 100% accurate when it comes to any of this, as you will be able to see if you do a bit of research on your own. So, these are pretty broad generalizations on the genres, and ones that I think if you stick to, you will at least be playing in the right field when you decide to set your baby free.

So, you are wondering where to place your treasure or maybe your sales aren’t what they should be and you are considering a re-categorization of said treasure. Here are the broad-spectrum genres, meaning there are a thousand and twenty-ish sub-genres you will have to pick once you get into your main genre.

These are in no particular order… so just bear with me. :)

Paranormal – anything out of the norm. Something science cannot explain. This genre can include anything from ghost stories to tales of Big Foot. Many times, you will see vampires and werewolves in here, but it’s not the only thing this genre encompasses. King Tut rising from the grave, the Loch Ness monster, Casper the friendly ghost, and even time travel can be included here.

Romance – generally this genre centers around a love story. While it is not always the entire plot, the romance and the couple falling in love is really the main story. This genre ALWAYS ends in a happy ending. If you are going straight romance, please remember this important part. Your book will be judged rather harshly if you go for straight romance and you kill off the heroine at the end.

Dystopian – a dystopia is the exact opposite of a utopia. The characters are living in a world where the conditions are awful. They are generally enslaved, living in terrible conditions, or being terrorized in some way by a higher power. This setting can come after a world war, in a fantastic setting where overlords are enslaving their people, an apocalypse… I’m sure you get the idea. The main point of this is the living conditions of the people.

YA – Generally classified by its main protagonist age. If you are writing a story and your main character is 15 years old, this is the genre you will fall into. But writing for this genre is a bit trickier than people may imagine. YA can literally span from the target audience being anywhere from the age of 6-18. You must write age-appropriate material for this genre. Cursing is generally frowned upon as is risqué situations such as drinking, drug use, and sexual contact. You can combine the YA genre with any of the others: dystopians, horror, paranormal, etc, but these rules of proper conduct and language should be stuck to firmly.

You can have deep plot lines and engaging scenery and dialogue, but always keep in mind your target age range. If you want to write to the 8-year-old crowd, be sure that if you want to have a deeper plot line that you also create a superficial one that will be picked up and understood by your 8-year-old target audience.

New Adult – for all of the adults out there who love the typical YA scene, but want it a bit rougher around the edges. You want your protagonist as a 16-year-old high school student, but you want your character to be a little more “real world.” They are going to cuss, there may be a condom thrown in there somewhere, and their best friend may dip into his parents’ liquor cabinet from time to time. That is the big difference between this genre and the YA category – this one has no real “restrictions” to it.

Fantasy – this one pretty much revolves around magic and other such phenomenon. There doesn’t have to be any science to explain the extraordinary things that happen here. Your hero can shoot flames out of his fingers because that is the way he was born. It’s normal here. There wasn’t any type of science experiment conducted on him that left him with abilities. That’s just how it works in this world. Many times other mythical creatures such as elves, unicorns, hobbits, manitcores, Cyclops, witches and others will often be main characters in this genre.

Sci-Fi – Here comes the future and all the technology it holds. This genre is known for its ray guns, spaceships, robots, alien life, foreign worlds, alternate universes and things of that nature. Technology runs rampant in this genre and if you can think of it, you can create it in science fiction.

Historical fiction – this one is pretty cut and dry. This genre is known for the setting being in a distinguishable time in the world’s history. If you have a debutant heroine in the Civil War who is torn between her husband’s family that lives in the North and her family that lives in the South – you have a historical fiction on your hands.

Thrillers – AKA action/adventure Break out your running shoes and maps! This genre is centered around its neck-breaking pace, action and, yes you guessed it, adventure. Your main plotline in this book is going to be centered around it. Your main character is allowed to fall in love, allowed to form friendships, but those are all subplots or background noise. Your main focus is getting your tasks completed, saving the world, rescuing the children from the kidnapper, or flushing out a mafia lord.

Horror – be prepared to be scared. And no, this genre does not just include entrails lying on the side of the road after the victim was worn apart by mindless creatures. Any book designed to frighten you in some way, shape, or form can fall into this category. Yes, the monster, zombie, ghost, and alien invader books will be prevalent in this genre, but don’t forget books about serial killers, nightmare situations, teddy bears that come to life and terrify a young child (or his parents), killer fish, the underworld… If it can scare you, it’s horror!

Yes, I know I didn’t cover EVERYTHING here, but this is a great way to at least get the basics down. Please, take the time to leave a comment if there is a genre you don’t understand or would like to learn more about! Others out there may be wondering too!

If you still aren’t certain where to go, talk to your editor. He/she knows your book and may give you a good idea about where it may go. If all else fails, feel free to shoot me an email. I am always happy to help – together we can figure out where that little bundle of joy belongs!

Amy Eye is a regular contributor to Dandilyon Fluff and a professional editor, book designer and formatter for several publishing houses and for her own editing business,The Eyes for Editing.  Visit her regular column here, Sticks & Stones.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award. Her latest novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. Currently, she publishes Space and Time magazine, a 53 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit or
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4 Responses to Sticks & Stones with Amy Eye: Genre Roles

  1. Thank you for making the lines so clear. I come from an age when the genres were pretty distinct – there was horror, fantasy, romance, science fiction and western for fiction. When I first published Mae I was told it was paranormal… I’ve been confused ever since ;p Given these guidelines, I’d say I’m Parahorror. I just made up my own genre!

    (Horronormal is also a potential, I guess…)

  2. Amy Eye says:

    LOL!! Well, any of those could work! If they make up new ones all the time, why can’t we? :P

  3. Pingback: An epiphany! | :Dandilyon Fluff

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