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A Guide to the More Common Literary Genres


Stories in which the element of mystery or terror plays a major part. Mysteries are tales of crime, or feature strange or frightening adventure. Many stories of this genre feature a detective trying to catch the criminal. Mystery novels involve situations that are puzzling, and difficult to explain. Many chapters introduce intriguing questions that make you want to read on: Why would someone want to steal an apparently valueless book? What is causing the strange sounds heard at the old Ashley place? How are diamonds being smuggled out of the country? Why is Jane being followed? Mystery stories often involve a crime—whether it be murder, theft, or kidnapping. Espionage and spy stories, thrillers and courtroom dramas are included in this genre.

Examples of this genre include

  • Donald J. Sobol, Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man
  • Franklin W. Dixon, Hardy Boy series
  • Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew novels.

Browse Mysteries reviewed on Bookhooks

Mystery Questions to get you started

1. Write a newpaper article about the crime that occurred in your mystery novel.

2. Write an article detailing the solution to the mysterious crime committed in the novel.

3. Did your story contain any false clues, or red herrings that led you to believe other than the real facts of the mystery?

4. A ‘red herring’ is an event or character designed to throw the reader off the solution to the mystery. Find 3 examples of a red herring in your novel and explain what incorrect conclusions they may lead you to make.

5. Subtle clues to a mystery are often buried in the text of the story. After completing your story return to the pages where some ‘understated’ clues were introduced. Explain their subtleties or why these clues may have been missed on the first read through.

6. Locate the key event or clue that solves the mystery. Rewrite the event or clue so that the solution is doubtful and the mystery would be left unsolved.

7. Think of a mystery that you’ve seen on television or in the movies. Describe the differences created by visual cues. How would this story have been different if you could have seen the events take place instead of reading about them and conjuring up your own images.

8. The end of a story does not necessarily solve all aspects of a mystery. Leaving readers hanging with some unanswered questions may be used as a tactic for getting someone interested in the next story written by the same author or to read the next novel in a series. Identify what questions have been left unanswered. If they are not asked in the story then think of what would happen next and raise these as mysterious questions.

9. Why won't it let me type a review? I click on report body and it won't let me type anything.

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Major genres (fiction) Click on a genre for detailed information

Action/AdventureAnimal StoriesDrama Fantasy Historical Fiction Horror HumourMagic Realism Mystery Poetry Realism Romance Science FictionWestern