Here are five of the most popular genres of prose – it’s pretty much guaranteed that these aren’t going out of style anytime soon! You can feel confident that these prose genres will have an audience for the foreseeable future.
Crime fiction is never going out of style! Whodunnit? From endless Sherlock Holmes remakes, to the longest running play on the West End, Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap which opened in 1952 and ran continuously until 2020 when it had to be cancelled due to Covid – over 27,000 performances! The form gets revitalised by fresh new voices every so often, like Raymond Chandler whose distinct style still reverberates so clearly through much of contemporary fiction. The best selling lists are always chock full of crime fiction – and sometimes a non crime story can really be enlivened by introducing a crime fiction element! Something to think about. Agatha Christie is the best selling writer of all time BTW, tied with Shakespeare at around 3 billion sales.
If you’re tired of fantasy you’re tired of life. That’s not true, and plenty of reasonable people detest fantasy, but I’m not one of them. Harry Potter! Lord of the Rings! Terry Pratchett! Someone recently described Star Wars to me as a story about space wizards … so true! Indulge your love of world building, lore creating, language developing, and get working on a whole new magic system and universe to populate with your non human characters! Ultimate allegory alert!
Majored in history at uni? Love digging through those dusty tomes, or disappearing down a wikipedia wormhole? Reckon the past still has lessons for us today? Or that history is always repeating? Feel like you belong in another era? Perhaps you were meant to be born in the 1920s? Historical fiction has been around forever and as long as we keep making history to recreate, some amongst us will take up that challenge! There’s just so much history, and maybe some corner of it needs to be brought to light! Could you be the one? The awards lists are always full of historical fiction too incase you’re interested in winning yourself some laurels.
People love to be scared. Check out Burke’s theories of the sublime to possible explain why! Regardless, one of the best selling authors of all time, Stephen King, will tell you that there’s a pretty penny, and a plentiful audience, for the writer who leads their reader into the realms of dread. Plumb the human subconscious for things that make them go AHHHHHHH. King has sold around 300 million books: you can get paid good money to say boo.
What is literary fiction anyway? It’s fiction that doesn’t set out to fulfill the tropes or expectations of any particular genre. Writing that aspires towards innovation. That perhaps has lofty ideals re themes and philosophies. It’s always amusing to hear how people define this genre, but I reckon if you make ‘an earnest attempt to create something of societal value that’s innovative’ you’ll be close to the literary genre. Award winners are often drawn from this category.
Action / Adventure
So many titles fall into this category, and it’s arguable that almost any work of prose could! But it particularly applies to physical adventures. If the central focus of the tale is an extraordinary physical journey or undertaking, you might be in this category!
Sci Fi / Speculative
Isaac Asimov, Dune, 1984, The Road, Brave New World. Speculative is a good title for this genre, because that moniker gestures towards what’s really going on here – it’s a look into a possible future, rather than specifically being about science. The Road for instance doesn’t have much science going on, but it is speculative because it’s looking into a dystopian future, in which the world has been destroyed by science, yes. If you’re a science grad you might want to share your science learnings with your readers through entertaining tales! If you have an dire warning about the trajectory humanoids are currently on this one might be for you too!
Of course there are many more genres and subgenres of prose! I hope you enjoy finding the one that’s the right fit for you!
Here’s a video on how to write better prose!