The Many Types of Written Stories: From Romance to Sci-Fi and Everything in Between

When you read, you may notice that some stories are similar to each other. That’s because there are many types of written stories and novels, from romance to sci-fi to historical fiction and everything in between. While all stories have the same general structure—a beginning, middle, and end—they can have different themes or unique features that set them apart from other stories in their genre. This guide will show you some of the more popular types of written stories and why they’re so enjoyable to read.

What are they?

A story doesn’t necessarily need a protagonist or antagonist, but it does need conflict. Conflict could be internal (i.e., is he or she going to win) or external (i.e., someone else is trying to stop him or her from winning). A novel usually has an extended plot with rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. And romance novels have, well... romance! Oh, there are also different types of stories told orally—like fables—but we won’t get into those today; now that you know about stories overall.

Realistic Fiction vs. Fantasy

While all stories are designed to evoke an emotional response, some genres aim for realism (or at least for believable fantasy) while others take a more fantastical approach. For example, realistic fiction explores themes that could feasibly happen in real life, whereas fantasy typically relies on magic or other supernatural elements. Realistic fiction does not rely on magical beings or fictional situations but rather tells a story about characters facing problems we might encounter in our own lives. Perhaps you're familiar with realistic fiction from reading novels like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice or JK Rowling's Harry Potter series—the point is that they could really happen if you can believe them. The focus here is often on relating emotionally with characters as you learn about their obstacles and victories.

Historical Fiction vs. Modern Fiction

A common misconception among aspiring writers is that any story written from another era qualifies as historical fiction. While some stories are easily categorized by when they were set, some aren't. For example, a writer writing about an elderly person today doesn't necessarily write historical fiction because age is such a relative term; everyone is old at some point. You might also think you're writing about the present day, but other aspects of your story—the characters' technology use or their geographic location—could date it as well. So how do you know if your work counts as historical? Is it setting? Characters? The subject matter?

Short Story vs. Novel

When you think about it, there are a lot of similarities between a short story and a novel. They both rely on characters and plot to entice readers, but that’s where most of their similarities end. In general, novels can be up to 500 pages long, while short stories rarely have more than 2,000 words. While it may seem like short stories might have less room for character development or plot twists—particularly since they’re usually much shorter—many writers will tell you that these constraints actually add focus.

How Do You Know Which One To Write?

A story is a question. As writers, we’re taught that there are only two types of stories: Is something going to happen? (plot) or Are they going to fall in love? (romance). This question, though not entirely correct, is an easy starting point for beginning writers. But as you dig deeper into your story and characters, you might find yourself asking other questions: What kind of world am I writing about? Where does it take place? Why does my character do what he or she does? And each new question opens a door to a new type of fiction. So let’s take a look at ten different types of written stories so you can choose one that fits your interest best.

How do you choose a topic for your story?

Everyone has a different answer to that question. It can be as simple as what you feel like writing about or as complex as finding a group of people who are looking for your specific topic. The most important thing is that you're passionate about it—otherwise, why would someone else want to read it? When creating your story, be sure you're doing something you truly love. Write what you know and write what's real. If it feels right, then keep going!

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