Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kiss kiss, bang bang

One of my favorite things in fiction as both a reader, and a writer:   Genre Blending!

We all like characters that we can relate to.  That being said, none of us fit into a tidy little box, like "action", "comedy", or "romance" (thank God).

Life is big.  And messy.  And chaotic.

Sometimes we fall in love, and then get hit by a car, and while heavily medicated we see dead people. 

It happens.

I am not speaking from personal experience here, I'm just sayin. ;)

I do have to make a distinction, however, because there is genre blending, and then there is cut and paste plotting.  I don't know if someone out there has taken the term cut and paste plotting for another definition, but what I'm talking about here is the difference between a great read, and a cheesy romance novel with adventure thrown in just to make the sex hotter.  *tsk tsk*

We have all read that book, or seen that movie that we are really into, and then all of the sudden, the characters switch gears with a big "reveal" and now we are reading/watching a completely different story!  Like the writer got bored halfway through, but didn't want to revise so they just kept plugging away, or wanted all of the elements of action and romance, but just didn't know how to marry the two.  I have done this.  No one will ever read it, but I have.  I learned a lot from it, and I want to be better than that, so I expect better when I read/watch. (examples are: Hitchcock, A Killer's Kiss

I think some episodes of Writing Excuses call this "breaking promises to your readers". 

I want to be put into the middle of a very tense situation.  I want to believe the danger, to worry about the relationship, and wonder at the unexplainable phone call from the deceased man. And I want it all to fit together.

I want the story to be pure story, fresh from Once Upon A Time And Place... to be so real to my characters that it feels like I'm there. (examples: The Taking by Dean Koontz, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, and Night Visions by Thomas Fahy, just to name a few.)

I have over the years come to realize that this can be a bit tricky.  I used to look at my favorites, like Bag Of Bones, and think that I could just put events in the story and it would work. (ah, to be young)
Now I understand that these things must connect... and often in more ways than one.

They must start at the top, even in subtle ways, everything is there, then as we weave our tale, the different aspects and genres become more prominent at varying times throughout our story.  Until eventually they all tie together in a tight little bow at the base of our climactic scene, leaving us satisfied with the strength of the weave, and no loose ends to tug at, save one... will there be another book? I want more!

Side Notes:

For a fun POV on genre blending, check out Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 7: Genre Blending

My favorite example of a tighly woven short story is Pop Art by Joe Hill, found in his anthology 20th Century Ghosts.  I had such an emotional range in the twenty minutes that story took me to read, that I was grinning like a fool while sitting all by myself thinking, "I will never be able to write this well!" You MUST read this story! :) *click here to get a copy from B&N for 99cents*

As per usual, this post is packed with links, happy surfing!


  1. A fascinating blog post. I agree with keeping that promise to your readers!

    1. Thank you! I enjoy a story when every implied promise is resolved, even better when the resolution completely surprises me. :)



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