December 8, 2014

Mixing It Up With Different Genres

By Kathy Bryson

Like most writers, I’m an avid reader and not just in my published genre. I read everything I can get my hands on and I’m always on the hunt for something different and new! So it’s not surprising I ended up blending genres in my work. I write romantic fantasy. And increasingly, I’m not alone in this.

Some genres naturally go together. Paranormal and romance are a match made in, well if not exactly heaven, someplace metaphysical. There’s a close correlation between attraction and safety. Women, and men, look for partners who make them feel safe. We feel protective of those we care about. It’s the same reason there’s a demand for military/police/law enforcement/secret agent – even biker – romances.

In fantasy, the central conflict is frequently a search, a search for the solution to a problem or the search for one’s self, sometimes both. Fantasy and science fiction purists may prefer the romance not take center stage, but the quest for love directly parallels the epic quest and can actually be the reason for the quest. It was pretty much the basis for all those Arthurian legends.

Some genres may have tension when blending. This holds true for suspense thrillers, even mysteries. Characters may be conflicted, but the reader can get confused if the characters are bouncing between wondering if they’re loved and wondering who did it. Romantic mysteries work when solving the mystery reinforces that sense of safety.

Balancing the demands of multiple genres requires thought. Time travel romances can wander dangerously close to Regency romances. The common element between genres can act as a bridge or the fulcrum that highlights the difference. Alpha males appear in many genres, but a good character won’t jump seamlessly between a space ship and a medieval battlefield without questioning more than the available selection of weapons.

Some cross-genre pairing wouldn’t seem to work at all. Consider horror comedy for example. This pairing ranges from unabashedly silly like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein to biting satire like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. One benefit of cross-genre pairing is that juxtaposing one genre against other forces you to examine its conventions. Your characters, and your assumptions, will never be the same!

So, tap into the creative energy of mixing genres. Consider your characters and plot, and ask yourself, am I writing just a mystery? Is there a romance in here as well? If I blend them, will I get a richer, more vibrant story? An epic quest becomes a romance with the protagonists rescuing their love from dragons, or if the parties are under a spell, a romantic comedy. Mix it up and see what you get!
Kathy Bryson knew she wanted to be a writer when she finished reading through her school and local children’s libraries. She spent 20 years honing her writing skills on marketing brochures, websites, and several unfinished manuscripts before going into teaching and finishing a book with all the stuff she enjoys most – from coffee to love to Shakespeare! Kathy lives in Florida where she caters to the whims of two spoiled cats and wonders what possessed her to put in 75 feet of flowerbeds. Her first book, Feeling Lucky, won the 2014 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award for Best First Book. Author Links – Blog - Facebook -

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