Many different types of online fiction exist, and they can be classified in a variety of different ways. The lengths of the various stories available online can be used to classify them as either a short story, novel, novella, flash fiction, or even “nanoism.” In addition, several different genres of online fiction can be found, which stretch to more than the familiar genres of romance, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, and drama. Different genres found in online writing can also include post-apocalyptic, steampunk, and space opera. It could be argued that the ease of publishing online has led to this myriad of different styles and genres.
The easiest method of classifying the types of online fiction is to do so by the length of the story. There are online short stories, novelettes, novels, and novellas — the same types of story that are also familiar in the printed fiction world. Short stories are generally considered to be stories of between 1,000 and 7,500 words, novelettes are between 7,500 and 20,000 words, novellas are between 20,000 and 50,000 words and novels are anything longer. These types of stories can be used to classify the various types on online fiction.
More internet-specific genres of fiction dictated by length include flash fiction and nanoism, or micro-fiction. Flash fiction as a type of online fiction is anything that is between 100 and 1000 words in length. Generally, this lends itself to succinct storytelling and is often published quite readily due to the small amount of space and resources it requires. Nanoism or micro-fiction is anything less than 100 words. These are truly bare-bones stories, and some are even published in the 140 characters allowed by social networking site Twitter.
Genre is an effective way to categorize most fiction and will give readers more of an idea what a piece of online fiction is going to be like. Traditional genres of story still survive online, such as romance, mystery, science fiction, thriller, fantasy, and drama. Science fiction, for example, is generally set in the future and may features different alien races and futuristic technology. Mystery stories are generally centered on a crime, or bizarre event which the story dedicates itself to uncovering.
The ease of publishing online fiction has arguably led to a myriad of various specific genres of fiction to evolve. Some online genres of fiction include niche genres such dystopia, steampunk, space opera, and space westerns. Dystopia stories are set in a futuristic, nightmarish world like the one found in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Space westerns are essentially westerns, like the classic movies, but set in space, and so have a clear link to science fiction.