Margaret Mitchell arranged Gone with the Wind chronologically, basing it on the life and experiences of the main character, Scarlett O'Hara, as she grew from adolescence into adulthood. During the time span of the novel, from 1861 to 1873, Scarlett ages from sixteen to twenty-eight years. The literary technique applied in telling the story is Bildungsroman, which is a type of novel concerned with the moral and psychological growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood (coming-of-age story). The growth and evolution of Scarlett O'Hara is influenced by the events of her time. Mitchell used a smooth linear narrative structure. The novel is known for its exceptional "readability". The plot is rich with vivid characters.
Gone with the Wind is often placed in the literary subgenre of the historical romance novel. However, it has been argued the novel does not contain all of the elements of the romance genre, making it simply a historical novel. The novel has also been described as an early classic of the erotic historical genre because it is thought to contain some degree of pornography.