Writing YA: What’s my genre?

YA is a treasure trove. There’s nothing you won’t find on the YA shelves in Waterstones; it’s a place of pioneering fiction. But still, what sort of thing happens in YA genres? Grab a biscuit and read on.


Contemp YA is usually perceived as one of two ways: sweet, over-the-top romance or a gritty, too-dark ‘issues’ fest. While there are definitely both in YA, that’s not what contemp is. Contemporary YA, or realistic fiction, is exactly what it says on the tin! It’s YA set in present day, in the real world and without any fantastical elements.

A few fab examples:



Fantasy is getting bigger and bigger in YA and we LOVE IT. There are many different offshoots from fantasy, but we’ll stick with the basics.

Urban fantasy: set in our world, but with fantastical elements, be it vampires, faeries and protagonists with supernatural abilities or connections.

urban fantasy

High fantasy: high fantasy is set in an entirely new world, full of supernatural beings and a whole new set of rules.

high fantasy


Ah, dystopia. Dystopian fiction helped YA get its name out there and how ever you feel about it, YA owes it one! Whether it’s a totalitarian government, a dangerous organisation or a corrupt leader, it’s all dystopia.

A few of our faves are:



Sci-fi is such a broad genre and it’s growing constantly. It’s not just space travel, it’s new worlds, interplanetary wars, time travel and parallel universes – it’s limitless.

We’re particular fans of:

sci fi


There’s nothing like getting to experience times and places far in the past from the comfort of your sofa. But how far back does something have to be set to be historical? Scary as it sounds, the 90s – yes, the 1990s – is probably far enough…

We LOVE these:



Who doesn’t like to imagine themselves the next Miss Marple? Only to find that they were actually so far off they should leave it to the professionals… This is such a fun genre and it has so many possibilities to mesh with other genres: fantasy, historical, contemporary – the world is your oyster.

These are some good’uns:


Magical Realism

Magical realism is probably the hardest genre to define. It’s usually either a contemporary or historical novel, but with an element of the unexplainable. Be it time slips, visions, a ghost, but all without stepping over the line into other. It’s a tricky one to master.

These ladies do it beautifully:

Magical Realism

Don’t be afraid to try a genre out, mix it up a little! And if your story falls into more than one genre? Roll with it!

Still unsure where you fall? Take our quiz and find out!

Previous Posts

Writing YA: An Introduction

Coming up!

Writing YA: Cliches and Tropes
Writing YA: Planning and Pantsing
Writing YA: Apps and Tools
Writing YA: Who are your characters?
Writing YA: Essential Reading for Writers
Writing YA: Prepping for Publishing

And more!

Is there anything you’d like us to cover during the series? Let us know @maximumpopbooks!

Leave a Reply




Written by Sophie Waters

Sophie is the Head of Commercial at Maximum Pop! Having studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she came to MP! to satisfy her passion for books. Sophie is a diehard Hufflepuff and feminist. She's also a huge cat lover, and can often be found rocking her socks off at a gig.

[g1_socials_user user="148" icon_size="28" icon_color="text"]

Guess what? ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’ is a chart-topping beast of a book and we couldn’t be happier!

Here’s why #TallGirlTwitter might just be the greatest hashtag of all time