There is no question about it, genre-blending is happening! But what is it? And what does it mean for writers and readers? In the old publishing system before the Internet, categorizing books was the norm. The entire system was based on these categories, and most writers would adhere to the genre. Yet even then, within the last two decades of the 20th Century some works from a few authors did venture into this trend. These books were difficult to categorize, and I can imagine just how many genre-blended manuscripts from new authors were rejected because the industry was not ready for them. I am not sure why the industry is ready for genre-blending now, but I like to think it is thanks to all the Indie work out there. I bet that most readers were as tired as I was of the cookie cutter publishing machine, and craved something different. This craving with the Indie books boom, thanks to the Internet in my opinion, is what made possible the publishing industry fusion revolution we see currently. Below are few things to think about when writing genre-fusion stories:
- Keeping your plot straight. Sometimes having too much freedom can make it difficult to choose a focal point when writing. I mean, just look at the historical fiction book “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. This is a historical book narrated by the angel of death (the reaper)…It could easily be considered a fantasy because of this fusion. Yet the main story is about the main character (a little girl who loved books during a time they were banned and burned in Germany). The author found the best balance of fantasy and historical fiction in his book by separating the fantasy element from the main plot when he made the reaper strictly the narrator. I think that finding a balance of genres is what will keep the reader from scattering their attention and losing the main plot. Another example I can think of is the movie, “Cowboys and Aliens.” The western genre was the setting and the plot revolved in sci-fi.
- Pick one of the blended genres as the main one. Before developing the story, the author needs to choose which one is the main genre and apply it to the plot. This will not only help to keep the story line straight, it can also give a focus point for the promotional efforts. Having a main marketing target and using the other genre fused into it as angles for promoting will also help the promoting team to stay on track with a defined campaign, instead of scattering efforts everywhere without specific direction and goals.
- Keep it simple. If you are like me, you get a bunch of ideas all at the same time. Because of this my first bullet point plot is really like five stories instead of one. I know this, so I always do a bullet point summary so that I can strip out all the extra stories before I start developing my project. I do this with book-size ideas all the way through this very editorial. Keeping it simple is always a good idea to make sure your message goes through but working with genre-blended stories it becomes even more critical to do this. A plot with too many characters and twists of a WWII-vampire vs zombies who end up being ancient astronauts-and a Nazi zombie falls in love with Churchill’s daughter might be a little too much for readers to follow and enjoy at the same time. So take your time selecting what you want to include in your plot to make sure it is balanced.
In the end, currently a successful book is not about what category or how many categories it’s written in. What matters is that it’s a good story that is well-written.