THE 9 EXTERNAL CONTENT GENRES: WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW TO USE THEM FOR MARKETING YOUR NEXT BOOK

Baleigh Shortreed
5 min readOct 18, 2023
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Are you confused on which content genre will make benefit your story most? Let’s break down each genre type and their conventions to better guide you to choose the most appropriate genre for your next novel.

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ACTION

The action genre is primarily a story surrounded by survival plots and elements mostly focused on life and death scenes. These stories are primarily protagonist versus antagonist story lines, such as Superman v. Lex Luther. The antagonist drives majority of the plot as it affects the protagonist and their decisions. These stories are primarily external conflict stories and one of the more versatile genres with lots of room for added twists and turns to bend and break as you see fit.

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HORROR

The horror genre is similar to action in that these stories are primarily protagonist versus antagonist story lines. In horror we commonly see the life v. death plot to an extreme where death is submitted to be preferable to reality. This genre’s antagonists are typically monsters, psycho-killers, paranormal entities, etc. The focus of this genre is all about survival and uses the anxiety and fear of the reader/audience. This genre is primarily focused on good v. evil, includes character decisions made in mind of right v. wrong, and often has a larger critique of social constructs.

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CRIME

The crime genre is detailed with the values of justice v. injustice, with the core event that takes place being a crime. Crime has many subgenres which are categorized by the protagonists POV. Murder mystery, the first subgenre, is classified by the following conventions: a dead body, the reveal of the murderer, red herrings, a detective/investigator, and a primary antagonist (usually the killer). This subgenre also has micro-genres within it, such as master detective, cozy murder, historical, noir, paranormal, etc. The second subgenre is organized crime, which is usually classified as a “mafia” style crime, like the infamous movie The Godfather. Other subgenres exist, such as caper (Killer POV), courtroom (lawyer POV), newsroom (journalist POV), espionage (spy/assassin POV), and prison.

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WESTERN

The western genre is classified by the individual inside and outside of society, with the main event being a “showdown”. This genre also has subgenres, such as classical western, western vengeance, western transition, and professional western.

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THRILLER

The thriller genre is basically a combination of the first three genres; crime, action, and horror. Its main characteristics are of life and death situations, often times surrounded by a killer (man or monster) and deals with the “fate worse than death” problem. Thrillers are scary because they feel and act in a real world atmosphere with threats of harm mentally or physically. This genre probably has the most subcategories as it combines three genres or more at a time: serial killer, legal, medical, military, political, journalism, psychological, financial, espionage, woman in jeopardy, child in jeopardy, and Hitchcock.

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WAR

The war genre is pretty straight forward. It is classified by a victory or defeat for the protagonist. This genre will often times get mixed into commercial genres such as Sci-Fi or Fantasy to give it an edge, such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.

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SOCIETY

The society genre is complex for many reasons, but primarily for the fact that it can be function on a micro (niched) and macro (global) level. The genre often plays with philosophical views on how the world or protagonists environment operates as a whole. The level at which it operates is what changes the subgenre: domestic (family), women (feminism v patriarchy), political (campaign or party), biographical (lifetime), and historical (time period).

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LOVE

The love genre is a fan favorite, especially to women when it comes to writing, but even it has subgenres and micro-genres. The first subgenre is courtship, where we see people attempt to commit to a relationship to one another. The second is marriage, which is rather obviously the difficulties of securing and maintaining a marital relationship. Finally, the third is obsession, which can often tie into many of the other genres, which is primarily about sexual desire. Micro-genres can include Erotic, Gothic, Historical, Paranormal, Regency, Romantic Suspense, Western, etc.

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PERFORMANCE OR COMING OF AGE

The performance genre is also known as the coming of age genre where there is a dynamic change in the way the protagonist lives and or thinks about the their. This is typically classified with a large fight and event/performance, along with the themes os honor, shame, self-esteem, respect, and guilt. Subgenres include sports, art, business, and music.

If this helped you at all please let me know by leaving a comment below. Thank you.

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Baleigh Shortreed

Writer, Author, & Entreprenuer teaching you to advocate for yourself through written, verbal, and digital means.