Every story can be placed in a genre. A category designation that helps the author and reader differentiate between books. Each genre can have a sub-genre. A further categorization that more narrowly defines a book.
Knowing which genre your story falls into will help you focus on the true problem. Each genre has unique rules and reader expectations. You can’t meet those expectations unless you know where your story belongs.
Romance - In which the main story problem, the main conflict, is whether two people will fall in love and live happily ever after. Main Rule = Must have a happy ending.
Science Fiction – The main story problem/main conflict is irrelevant, what is important is that it happens in a world different than our own. Main Rule, The physical laws of science apply. Sci Fi is usually IDEA based. It is the new way of looking at things.
Fantasy - The main story problem/main conflict is irrelevant, what is important is that it happen in a world different than our own. Main Rule, Physical laws do NOT apply (Magic.) Fantasy is usually Character based. It is what these people do in this new and weird situation.
Mystery – The main story problem/main conflict is to find the answer to a major problem, usually a crime. Main Rule, the clues must be included. No surprise endings.
Literary Fiction – The Main story problem/main conflict is not critical but usually revolves around common problems. The Prose, the words are as important if not more so than the plot. Main rule, the words evoke emotions, not just the plot.
Thriller – Main Story problem/main Conflict is to save something larger than themselves. The Hero’s journey. Main Rule, the problem must be external to the character.
Sub- Genre. Any of these can be used in any of the Main Genres
MG = Middle Grade – In which the main character starts to story innocent, grows but does not completely loose that innocent. At the end there is room for more growth.
YA = Young Adult – In which the main character loses their sense of innocence and becomes who they are going to become.
Historical – The setting is “Time” related and forms a major part of the story. The Times determine plot points.
Erotica – In which the sex scenes are made better by the story. Vice normal literature in which the story is made better by the romance.
Urban – A gritty, contemporary setting within a large population. Always deals with harsh personal situations.
Paranormal – In which everything is normal except when it isn’t. A unique power or situation in a normal world.
Dystopian – In which the social power structure has changed significantly. This new environment will affect the plot points. The main problem of the story is result of this new society.