“Used to designate the types or categories into which literary works are grouped according to form, technique, or, sometimes, subject matter. The French term means “kind,” “genus,” or “type.” The traditional genres include tragedy, comedy, epic, lyric, and pastoral. Today a division of literature into genres would also include novel, short story, essay, television play, and motion picture scenario. [. . .] Critics today frequently regard genre distinctions as useful descriptive devices but rather arbitrary ones. Genre boundaries have been much subject to flux and blur in recent times, and it is almost the rule that a successful work will combine genres in some original way” (Source: Harmon & Holmon, 231).
The related term genre fiction refers to several types of popular fiction such as thrillers, westerns, mysteries, romance novels, and science fiction. Each type has its own set of standard characteristics that most novels of the type exhibit. Genre fiction is often used pejoratively to mean something like “mere genre fiction,” which refers to a formulaic novel that rigidly follows the conventions of its type and exhibits little creativity.