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[writing] Jay Lake’s Handy Guide to Genre Distinctions

I have found genre distinctions in fiction publishing to be sometimes confusing.

To aid others in their curiosity, and planning their reading lists, I present the following handy guide.

Genre Distinguishing Characteristics

General fiction Nothing to explain

Literary fiction If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand it anyway

Mystery Explain what happened

Thriller/Technothriller Explain how it happened

Romance Explain who it happened to

Western Explain what lily-livered varmint gone and done it

Horror Explain what’s about to happen

Science Fiction Explain everything in technical detail

Fantasy Explain everything in nonsensical detail

Magical Realism Explain nothing

Surrealism Go fishing for ice cream

Permission is granted for redistribution or reproduction under a noncommercial Creative Commons license. © 2003, 2010 Joseph E. Lake, Jr., writing as “Jay Lake”.

Creative Commons License
“Jay Lake’s Handy Guide to Genre Distinctions” by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. writing as “Jay Lake” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at jlake@jlake.com.

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