Genre defines an audience’s expectations. If you have a horror story, horror fans expect to see people fleeing from a monstrous villain of some kind whether supernatural or not. If you have a romance story, romance fans expect to see two people fall in love. Every story fits into a main genre whether that main genre is an action thriller like “Avatar” or “Saving Private Ryan”, or a romance like “Brokeback Mountain” or “When Harry Met Sally”. Once you know what genre your story falls under, make sure your story meets that genre’s expectations.
For example, a horror story often starts and ends with a horrifying event. In the horror film “It Comes at Night,” the beginning shows people taking their grandfather out to a field and shooting him in the head. By the end, the man and woman who shot their grandfather in the head in the beginning are in their cabin and realize they’re going to die like their grandfather and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.
Every story can fit into a main genre, but most stories often include a second genre. The main genre defines the story expectations while the secondary genre defines how that story is told. For example, a romantic comedy tells a romance story in a humorous manner like “When Harry Met Sally” or “The Proposal.” On the other hand, a romantic drama tells a romance story in a dramatic fashion like “Brokeback Mountain” or “Titanic.” The second genre defines how that story is told.
“Ghostbusters” could be a horror story because it’s about ghosts. Yet it’s told with humor so it’s a comedic horror film. In comparison, most horror films are dramatic such as “10 Cloverfield Lane” or “It Follows” that contain supernatural or horrifying events told dramatically.
So when writing a story, decide what main genre your story will fall under such as a thriller, romance, or mystery. Then decide how you want to tell that story by picking another genre such as comedy or drama. The clearer you are about the genre of your story, the better you’ll be able to meet those genres expectations.