Hall Marks of the Major Genres:


Crime
- Major crime (murder, grand theft, kidnapping, arson, rape)
- Cabal of guilty parties
- Cover up involving official compliance or ignorance
- Protagonist in legal line of work or associated with the law (lawyer, detective, cop, informant, prison guard, etc)
- More MacGuffins than red herrings

Erotica
- Copious amounts of the tubesteak boogie
- Minimal plot (mainly a series of connect MacGuffins)
- Highly descriptive horizontal mambo scenes with common words (i.e. cock instead of purple-headed love warrior)
- Constant sensual, descriptive narrative of all scenes evoking the sense
- Typically non-monagmous making the beast with two backs (or three...or seven)
- Often includes solo scenes of flogging the dolphin or paddling the pink cadillac
- Rarely ends as happily-ever-after romance (usually protagonist settles into regularly scheduled debauchery or walks away from it)

Erotic Romance
- Copious amounts of the tubesteak boogie
- Typical romance plot (see below) ending in happily-ever-after (can be for a couple or group)
- Only gland-to-gland combat within the context of an existing relationship or leading to a relationship
- Highly descriptive sensual writing (but not as constant as erotica)
- A mix of vulgar and purple terms (i.e. can use both cock and purple-headed love warrior)

Fantasy 
- Set in another world or dimension, usually in the past
- Follows the hero cycle for protagonist (must have a quest!)
- Has a constant villain to be defeated
- Usually involves magic or magical creatures 
- Often based on mix of actual history along with tropes of fables (e.g. War of the Roses + Ice Zombies = Song of Ice and Fire series)

Horror
- Protagonist is targeted and tormented by a larger force of evil (real or fantasy)
- Tension is continually built
- Foreboding and doom is a narrative constant
- A seed of hope (for escape of threat) is always present (best horror ends with that seed dying)
- Jump scares (e.g. scene where protagonist expects to confront threat but turns out to be a cat)
Protagonist has a goal that cannot be abandoned in face of threat

Literature 
- Is built around a thesis statement (i.e. love is all we need, belief is power, we doom ourselves, etc)
- Set in any time period
- Only "magic" is magical realism (daydreams, hallucinations, oblique metaphor)
- Typical protagonist is from a poor/disadvantaged family/situation or falls from grace into one 
- Follows a path of protagonist's self-discover through outside situations (external conflict causing internal)

Mystery
- Major crime (murder, grand theft, kidnapping, arson, rape) or series
- Protagonist protagonist working as detective or forced to be amateur detective
- More red herrings than MacGuffins 
- The longer the mystery the more layers to it (e.g. short stories have simpler mysteries)
- Often written with some degree of noir/doom (hardboiled/noir= constant, modern=mild)
- Antagonist always plots out a complex crime to obfuscate his/her/its/their trail

Historical Romance
- Set before start of 20th century 
- Heroine MUST be a virginal maiden or a widow
- Hero is sexually experienced, considered to be good at it, and is heroic in his daily life
- Hero and heroine dislike each other and are thrown together
- No stuffin' the muffin' for the first half
- Only euphemisms (e.g. he thrust his hardness into her quivering center)
- Heroine's sexual discovery matches pacing of the love story (plain missionary at the start, 69ing when they express their love)
- If Regency, kissing/light petting only, no squattin' on the hog

Modern Romance
- Set in current time (anything after 1980 is okay, but 1900ish-1950 is a zone you only go to when you want to sell no copies of your book) 
- Heroine is a modern woman whose sexual past is either limited, or if voracious she has been in a drought before the story begins
- Hero is sexually experienced, considered to be good at it, and is a modern sensitive-yet-alpha male 
- Hero and heroine have a cute-meet (see Hollywood Movies) that fosters an instant dislike/mutual sexual attraction
- No stuffin' the muffin' for the first quarter
- Mix euphemisms to vulgar terms 80:20 (more creamy wetness than aching pussy)
- Must have a strong subgenre (unless it's Harlequin trash, but read up on how they pay and you'll know not to write it)

Science Fiction 
- Set in future, otherworld/dimension, space, or alternate past (i.e. steampunk or urban fantasy)
- Any "magic" must be explained by science or technology
- Typically follows the hero cycle (protagonist has a quest)
- Technology/science drives the plot (i.e. robot uprising, space disaster, defeating as designer plague)
- Protagonist is either established expert in science/technology or somehow possesses a key to it
- Typically paced with action (almost all external conflict, very little internal)
- Humanity must always experience either an advancement or backslide of society, it can never remain static or change without progression/regression

Suspense/Thriller
- Set in modern time, real world
- Protagonist is targeted by a cabal committing criminal conspiracy or a single serial criminal
- Protagonist experiences fall from grace and persecution
- Fast paced action (almost all external, very little internal conflict)
- Has a happy ending, protagonist is vindicated
- Protagonist must solve mystery as he/she/they escape persecution

Western
- Set in second half 19th century to very early 20th century
- Set in "lawless" place (American Wild West, Australian Outback, or areas of feudal Japan outside of major cities)
- Protagonist is either a gunman/samurai or is forced to become one
- Organized law is either absent or thoroughly corrupt 
- Plot follows a crime or transgression the protagonist must seek vengeance for (if protagonist is hired by another at some point it must become personal)
- Protagonist must be tough (e.g. independent, hard, gritty, determined)
- Protagonist's motivation must always include a better life (i.e. their own land, reclaiming their name, freedom, etc)

Young Adult
- Protagonist is adolescent or young adult (12-19 usually)
- Protagonist achieves a coming-of-age from plot
- More internal conflict than external
- Protagonist is isolated or persecuted
- Protagonist discovers a hidden talent or ability, learns new skill, or discovers a destiny (last one is lame but very popular right now)
- Romance is always present if protagonist is 14-19: a new best friend is found for those 12-15 (14/15 year olds get a choice or both)
- Parents are largely absent or marginalized or antagonistic
- Antagonist can a be strong external force or a several weak but cruel individuals (in that case defeating them is silencing their persecution)