Literary Genres: Everything You Need to Know

These are classes of writing styles that are chosen based on different attributes such as tone, narrative technique, or content. In literature, there are four key genre types – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.


These are narrative works written in prose that aren’t real and often use elaborate figurative language. Fiction is extremely well structured and written in sentences and paragraphs with appropriate grammar and punctuation. Typically, fiction is divided into multiple chapters.

Fiction’s subject matter could be anything as it’s based on imagination. The setting of a fictional work take could be the past, the present, or the future. It may follow the occurrences in everyday life or integrate the most fantastical ideas. Examples of fictional works are folk tales, short stories, fairy tales, and novels. The Divergent trilogy, with its storyline set in a post-apocalyptic future, is a popular work of fiction.


This literary genre is based on real-life and real-world experiences. Nonfictional works can be found in different forms – from newspaper articles and entries in diaries and journals to autobiographies, biographies, and essays.

Nonfiction pieces are usually written in prose, similar to fiction, and sometimes may even be divided into chapters. They can also use figurative language, though it’s not as abundant as in fiction. Typically, figurative language in nonfiction comes through well-known common phrases used daily by many. A celebrated example of nonfiction is Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, in which Anne wrote about her real-life during World War II.


Often, poetry is considered to be the oldest form of literature. Though poetry, for many, includes rhymes and counting lines and syllables, there are diverse forms of poetry different from what most people think the standard is. For instance, some free-form poetry lack any rhyme or common patterns. Some forms like prose poetry even cross genre lines. However, a piece of text is considered a poem when it has some rhythm and focuses on the way the words, syllables, and phrases sound when they are put together. Typically, poems use a lot of imagery and metaphor. They often include phrases and fragments instead of grammatically correct and complete sentences. Poetry is almost always written in lines and stanzas that create a unique look on the page. An example of epic poetry is John Milton’s Paradise Lost.


Drama or play refers to a text that’s intended to be performed rather than read. Dramas written by Shakespeare like Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet are most commonly taught in classrooms.

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