(Formerly a FFQ Article)
What is the importance of genre when it comes to your writing? It kind of depends on your take on writing. Do you have the genre already established when you sit down to write? I normally do have a genre in mind when the story planning stage begins. While I think it is important to establish genre early, it isn't a writing law to do so.
Knowing the genre up front provides you with guidelines to the story you’re writing. Fantasy has some rules that normally are followed within its boundaries. Romance has rules that make it romance. Each genre has some sort of rule or rules that define it as a specific genre. The rules are there for a reason and help readers to correspond your story to that genre. However, it is important to understand that some rules can be broken if you understand what the rules are and how they work.
Some writer’s simply start typing and let the story decide the genre. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a more all-natural form of genre forming. Often, this can lead to mixed-genres and broken ‘rules’, and like I said earlier, there is nothing inherently wrong with that. If you are the type of person that just writes and lets the genre form naturally through the story, then stick with that. I would, however, try writing a few stories with a genre already firmly embedded in your mind. It will help you understand and perfect your knowledge of the genre and allow you to shape it more effectively in the future.
Genre can be your friend. Reading books from all sorts of different genres can help you to understand the function and form how they work internally. Different genres you story forms for different purposes, it can help you to adopt genre rules when it looks like that form would work well in your story.