Genre of literature means the classification of a literary work by its form, content, and style. It may seem like there is an infinite amount of different literary genres in English literature. In reality, there are actually three main literary genres, under which are many sub-genres. The three genres of literature are: Poetry, Drama, and Prose. Students will typically encounter these forms of literature for most of what they read and write about in school. It is important for students to be able to identify examples of literature genres and know their key characteristics.

Read on to learn more about the different types of genre in literature along with ways for students and teachers to storyboard their examples! Each of the storyboard charts and examples below can be copied and used in an assignment with your students!

Literary Genre Examples


Poetry is considered by many to be the most intense literature genre. It allows a writer to express his or her deepest emotions and thoughts in a very personal way. It relies heavily on figurative language, rhythm, and imagery to relay its message to readers.

Sub-Genres of Poetry

  • Songs and Ballads
  • Lyric
  • Epic
  • Dramatic
  • Narrative


Drama is a literary work written to be performed in front of an audience. It contains dialogue, and actors impersonate the characters. It is usually divided into acts or scenes, and relies on props or imaginative dialogue to create a visual experience for the audience.

Sub-Genres of Drama

  • Tragedy
  • Comedy
  • History
  • Melodrama
  • Musical


Prose is the most common form of writing. It is not restricted by rhythm or dialogue, and it most closely resembles everyday speech. It is usually straightforward, and may utilize figurative language, dialogue, characters, and imagery.

Prose writing is often divided into two primary categories:


Fiction is narrative writing that originates from the author’s imagination. It is designed to entertain, but it can also inspire, inform, or persuade.

Sub-Genres of Fiction

  • Novel
  • Novella
  • Short Story
  • Myths and Legends
  • Fables
  • Historical Fiction


Nonfiction is writing that is based on true events, people, places, and facts. It is designed to inform, and sometimes to entertain.

Sub-Genres of Nonfiction

  • Autobiography
  • Biography
  • Essay
  • Diaries and Journals
  • Narrative Nonfiction

A Note About Speeches...

While not one of the primary genres of literature, speeches are important historical documents or moments and literature, and they don’t always fit neatly into one of the three primary genre categories. A speech is a formal address given to an audience. Speeches can be found in prose, drama, and poetry, and their primary goals are to persuade, inform, demonstrate, or entertain a reader, an audience, or other characters. They can also be used in nonfiction or fiction, depending on their purpose and use.

Primary Speech Forms

  • Persuasive
  • Informational
  • Demonstrative
  • Special Occasion
  • Debate

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