I’m a big fan of genre. I understand how useful it is.
Without genre, how much harder would it be to talk about books? Imagine describing a fantasy book without the idea of a fantasy genre. You’d have to babble on about an imaginary world and strange, fairy-tale type characters and lots of magic. Half the people wouldn’t have a clue what you were talking about.
Imagine describing a crime novel without the idea of a crime genre. You’d be going on about someone killing someone else and a detective doing this and a crim doing that. You’d probably end up giving away half the plot.
Genre gets rid of that problem. With genre, you can just say, “It’s a fantasy book,” or, “It’s a crime novel,” and instantly people have a general idea of what the story will involve.
As I say, I don’t have a problem with genre. I use the concept all the time, both when I’m writing my stories and I’m looking for other people’s stories to read. There’s really only one issue I have with genre:
I don’t ever want to be restricted to just one genre, in my reading and my writing.
When it comes to reading, I really don’t like being restricted by genre, in a number of ways. Firstly, it applies broadly to my reading choices. My reading tastes aren’t pigeon-holed into a single genre. I don’t just read fantasy, or scifi, or crime, or (shock horror) romance. I like to read from all of these genres at different times.
Secondly, I don’t like to read stories that are too “generic”, or too typical of their genre. I like to be surprised. I like stories that stand out from their genre. In particular, I like to read stories that combine elements of different genres, in ways that make them quite unique.
This applies very much to my writing as well. I don’t think I could ever write something that fits neatly into a single genre. I think I’d get bored if I tried. I’m constantly trying to mix and match elements of different genres into my stories. It’s much more fun for me as a writer, and it means that I am able to surprise myself, even with a story I think I know well.
This applies to any of the stories I have written so far. With my latest story idea, I think I might push it even further. My current thinking is that this story is going to be a fantasy, comedy, satire, adventure, romance, with maybe a smattering of crime and horror. After all, why have just one genre when you can combine seven?
How am I going to do this? How will I manage to pull this genre mash-up off? I have no idea. I have no idea if I’m going to be successful. I’m not even sure how I’m going to start.
But I do know I’m going to have a lot of fun trying.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as