I’ll admit it. My reasons behind starting the SF/F Genre Glossary Project were not altogether altruistic. My hope was that by defining these subgenres it would be easier to better target submissions to the most appropriate publications. In the case of magazines, it’s good to read them before hand, but for lack of time and money, I can’t read them all.
As a reader, I’ve never paid attention to subgenres. I’m pretty willing to read anything as long as the premise sounds intriguing.
How useful are subgenre classifications?
I do believe they have some value. You have to know what the rules are if you want to break them. You should know what is expected, if you want to do something fresh.
On the other hand, what I find interesting usually happens at the edges, the meeting places, the muddy blending’s between. You may have a different opionion.
Should you care about subgenres while writing?
I don’t know. Sometimes. The discussion on sword and sorcery inspired a short story in which I made a conscious effort to subvert the standard tropes. Not all stories are, or should be, about that.
Perhaps genre classifications are more useful for categorizing work after it is written? Perhaps they’re more useful for publishers than writers?
What do you think? Are genre classifications helpful to you as a reader or as a writer?