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English Review of Types of Fiction

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Overview

There are many different types or genres of fiction.  Some of the most common types include adventure fiction, historical fiction, romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror.  Some people love to read only one type of fiction, such as adventure stories, mysteries, or science fiction, and libraries often shelve books in sections, so that borrowers can pick their favorite type of fiction to read.  However, students are often expected to try writing all different types of fiction in school.

Adventure Fiction

Adventure stories feature action as their main conflict, and often involve the main characters in a conflict against nature.  Stories are often set in stark and dangerous places, for example, climbing mountains, being lost at sea, spelunking in caves, plane crashes, and so on.  Some of those stories and novels have been made into movies or TV shows, such as the Bourne series, made from the novels of Robert Ludlum.  Thrillers, such as the spy novels of John Le Carre and Ian Fleming, are another genre of adventure fiction.

Mysteries

Mysteries focus on solving crime, usually murder or a series of murders.  The detective might be a member of the police force, an independent consultant such as Sherlock Holmes or Kinsey Millhone, or an unlikely crime-solver such as Miss Jane Marple or Nero Wolfe.  Readers keep reading to catch the clues and find the murderer.  The story might focus on police procedures and set in a precinct office, or it may focus on the process within the courtroom, such as novels by Erle Stanley Gardner, with Perry Mason, or more recent novels, such as the Inspector Lynley novels of P. D. James, or the courtroom dramas of John Grisham.

Romance/Historical Fiction

Romantic fiction includes many subcategories, such as romantic suspense, romantic Gothic novels, and modern romance.  Stories focus on relationships, and include a lot of unusual settings.  Some popular novelists in this genre include Jude Devereaux, Barbara Taylor Bradford, and Nora Roberts.  Historical fiction generally puts characters in historical settings, from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, to the 1800s, and focuses on how people lived, what they did, and what challenges they faced.  Not all historical fiction is romance, but some romances are set in the past.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Science fiction is based on science and often set in the future or on distant planets.   Some writers develop entire galactic empires, such as the Foundation series started by Isaac Asimov.  Some visions of the future are benign, while others are dark and foreboding.   There are many popular authors who write in this category, from Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke, to Sheri S. Tepper and Roger Zelazny.  Fantasy uses magical elements, mythological creatures, and arcane settings.  The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, novels and short stories by Mercedes Lackey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Anne McCaffrey are all examples of this genre.

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