Friday, September 16, 2011

Crossing Genre Lines: Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour3

I often hear things like 'genre is just a tool made up by marketing people.'

Yes, that's true.  That does not make it bad, though.  Imagine going into a store and wanting a new fantasy novel, only you have to search through every single shelf of fiction to find one.  Or worse, searching through places like, book-by-book.   So let's start by saying that genre distinctions are a great tool for readers.

But what about authors?  Yes, they can help you define what you are going to write and let you know what certain expectations might be.

However, that doesn't mean you have to write to fit a genre.  In fact, you shouldn't.  You should write whatever suits you for the story you want to tell, and genre should be the last thing you consider. And if that means you write something that crosses genre lines, all the better.  Genre designations are not meant to be walls. 

Oh, but how will you ever market such a thing?

How about by marketing it to all the genres included in it?  Hey, and doesn't that mean you will be marketing to an even larger audience than if it was just one?  So, let's not look at genres as something horrible and limiting.

Some of my earliest published material crossed genre lines combining fantasy with science fiction.  I loved writing the book.  (The third book of the Dark Staff series: Crystal and the Stars.)  I hadn't even considered such things as genres when I came up with the plot.  I only thought about how the new ideas would interact with the olds ones.

These days, the most common combination you see is romance and something else.  I don't write romance, so that's not going to happen on my end.  I have written historical (fiction) and fantasy combinations several times, though.  A bit more fantasy and science fiction as well.

I currently have a story for sale that combines science fiction with vampires, werewolves and shape-changers in a sort of science fiction/fantasy/dark fantasy/future urban fantasy sort of way:

. . . Oh yes, werewolves, vampires -- and worse -- are out in the stars with the rest of humanity. However, we're more subtle about our presence these days. Humans no longer believe in the old myths and sometimes that makes them easy prey, as vampires quickly learned. Many people had disappeared in Terra Nova lately. I'd heard about it in coffee shops and hotels; the places where humans gather to gossip and pretend they aren't worried. They didn't know what they faced or how to fight it and that left the vampires to prey as they wanted. They were getting bold.
The vampires hadn't counted on me, though.

Someone has to stand between the monsters and the humans.

This was a case where I worked with a couple different story prompts and suddenly something very odd blossomed out of the two seeds.  Something odd and wonderful and great deal of fun to write.

There are times when you want to write something genre-specific.  I love to write urban fantasy (though one of my best is a science fiction, near-future, post-apocalyptic urban fantasy that combines Cherokee and Egyptian mythology.  No, really.)  Most of my science fiction deals with cultural themes and alien places.  I love to write epic fantasy.

But really, what I love to write is stories that appeal to me.  Writers should never limit themselves or their imagination.  If everyone thought they couldn't step outside normal genre lines, there would be no steampunk, no urban fantasy.

Don't limit yourself.  Who knows what new great combination you might come up with!

If you want to get to read about nearly twenty other writers and find out what's on their nightstands, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Be sure to read tomorrow's post by Sharon Kemmerer


Kelley said...

Very true. Take away the limits and explore :)

GC said...

That's a great idea, I always looked for what stood out when marketing my mixed genre projects and totally forgot about the little this and that in the background of the story. Now I have another window and maybe another audience.

Nice Post