Writers have to know the genre or sub-genre of their story. Whether traditionally published and bookstore bound, or self-published e-book, sooner or later, someone is going to ask, “What kind of book is it?” And that’s genre.
Most genres today have a lengthy set of sub-genres. Today I’m going to focus on mysteries. I looked at lists of mystery sub-genres from a half-dozen sources and came up with over thirty. The ones that appeared on most or all of the lists included:
• Classic Whodunit
• Heists and Capers
• Medical and Legal (Courtroom)
• Police Procedural
• Private Eye, including the darker side Noir
• Suspense and Thrillers, including Techno-thrillers
• Spies and Espionage
And most included mention of mixed genres, such as Mystery mixed with Sci Fi, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, etc.
Suspense and Thriller are also considered genres in their own right with many of the same sub-genres as given for mysteries. The same is true for Crime Fiction.
Lists and definitions for oodles of sub-genres are easy to find. Take any mystery/suspense story and it will probably fall under one or more of those listed above. It’s the “more” that can cause a problem. What I did not find in my search of sub-genres was a hierarchy. Which sub-genre takes precedence of another?
Is a story about a private eye and a CIA agent who solve a murder while falling in love a Private Eye/Spy/Whodunit/Romantic Mystery? What about a spine-tingling thriller with a cop as the main character – Thriller or Police Procedural?
Obviously, some stories are easy to define. Others not so much. What do you think?
For writers - Is there a written or unwritten hierarchy for defining genres/sub-genres? Should there be?
For readers, how defined do you want the genre of a book to be before you buy?
Groaner of the Day: (Just a short one today.) The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.