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NWE101: genre basics

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Every writer, if he or she knows one thing, should know their genre. The genre determines which editors one applies to, how one advertises oneself and the way the book or short story is written. There are scores of different genres that can be written about. These include the following choices as an example:

  • Greeting Cards: these are popular ways to write and if you’re good, you can make a lot of money creating greeting card lyrics.
  • Classified Ads: these can be personal ads and you often work for newspapers or magazines.
  • Glossary or Dictionary: this includes a top ten list. You can work for the web, create a book of these things or sell pieces to newspapers or magazine.
  • Poetry or Song Lyrics: it takes a special artist to work in poetry or in song lyrics.
  • Business Letters: these individuals help businesspeople with correspondence, resumes and other business letters.
  • Biographical Summaries: this helps people share their biographies with others in concise and flattering ways.
  • Critique of a Published Source: it involves reading an article or book and providing your opinion on it.
  • Debate or Speech: this takes a skill in public speaking and a way with words to motivate people.
  • Textbook Article: one works for publishing companies and writes segments of textbooks for schools and academia.
  • Science Article: these are special reports based on the latest in scientific thought.
  • Lesson Plans: this is a special write-up made by teachers to plan out their day.
  • Scene from a play or movie with notes for stage directions or camera shots: these are done in a special format so everyone in the play or movie can read them.
  • Dialogue: this involves writing out a conversation between two or more individuals.
  • Short Story: the exact length of short stories varies but the topic can be on anything.
  • Adventure Magazine Story: this is part of certain magazines that are centered on adventure stories.
  • Ghost stories
  • Myths or Fairy Tales: these are short stories that have mythical properties.
  • Recipes surrounding traditional holidays: these can be holiday books or parts of holiday magazines.
  • Restaurant Description and Menu: this can be used in dining magazines or as the real menu at a restaurant.

Within story writing are about a hundred genres, including action/adventure, animal stories, children’s stories, cooking, erotica, fantasy, legal, medical, mystery/suspense, romance, sci-fi, spiritual, teen or new adult genres, etc.

Knowing and setting your genre is important in advertising your book or short story. If you’re in the sci-fi genre and you advertise your book as being a mystery novel, you might miss a large group of sci-fi fans who won’t even find your book. Similarly, if you have a gay and lesbian genre, and also a mystery genre, if you don’t include the gay and lesbian genre in your advertisement, you may offend some of your fans.

Writing involves many different genres from novels to writing obituaries. Each genre has its special skill and each has its own audience.


The National Writing Examiner welcomes questions, ideas and interviews or event announcements - through the comments section below, or by emailing.

Quote: I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught. ~Georgia O'Keeffe


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