Here is a list of all known written genres, as drawn from numerous sources . (We'd love to acknowledge and link to more of these web pages, but they keep on vanishing.) This list includes works of fiction and nonfiction, in short and long formats, with temporary or permanent media, and in venues for individual or personal or public use. This also includes spoken formats (live or filmed) that are typically written out beforehand.
Can all of these categories be regarded as genres? Perhaps. Each one is a distinct and familiar type, and many are included in the comprehensive Dewey system. People get paid to write (and/or to read and analyse) them; even build careers and businesses around their creation.
There is of course some overlap. While our intention is to be thorough, certain professions utilize numerous yet otherwise obscure textual formats.
While this list deals primarily with English, the same categories will apply to most languages. There are also Art, Film, Music, Video Game, Newspaper, and other broad genre types, however those go beyond the scope of this project.
The major descriptive and genre categories are in large print, and subgenres are in parentheses. Numerous fiction genres and subgenres are described in more detail on our Literary Fiction Genres list pages.
Major Print Genre Categories:
Remember, the shape of a story, where it starts and where it ends, says a lot about what matters to the author. If the story is about the importance of fitting in—or how much it really doesn’t matter as long as you’re true to yourself—then it makes sense to have the beginning of the story with the character grappling with fitting in, and the last scene showing some sort of reference, perhaps even a scene explicitly illustrating how the character now feels about fitting in. If the story is in part about growing up, learning to fly, it might begin and end with scenes that include that.