The Overlapping of Genres and Styles

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This is kind of carrying over from the ‘rules’ of writing posts from last week.  It got me thinking about this blog and how people perceive it.  Not the promotional stuff or the comedic things like Ye Olde Shoppe.  I’m talking about when I do craft-based subjects like settings, characters, and world-building.  Some people enjoy them and we have a good discussion.  Others don’t pay it any attention because they think I only talk fantasy, so it doesn’t concern them.  Like and move on with nary a second thought or even a full read at times.  Is this the case?

I’m going to delve more into this in December with a few Monday posts where I show connections between fantasy and other genres.  I’m doing Romance, Horror, Mystery, and Science Fiction.  I’m still seeing if I can switch something else in for that last one because it’s usually paired with fantasy.  The point of these is to show how there is overlapping between genres.  Advice you get in regards to one genre could be modified to help with another.  At the core, every story has the same focus and components:

  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Plot progression
  • World-building
  • Author style

For example, I may write a post about how you have to consider the weapons that a fantasy character will use.  A halfling shouldn’t be carrying around a giant hammer without magical support and an ogre would look silly with a child’s dagger.  You may look at this as it being only about fantasy and ignore it.  Only this is really about character description and associated abilities.  In a sports story, a really short guy probably can’t dunk a basketball.  In a romance, a girl wearing heels would not be able to go charging after a taxi with ease, especially on a busy NYC street.  Now, we’ve added location and setting to the mix.  By taking the essence of my ‘character and weapon’ advice, you can see how any character requires that an author consider what they are physically capable of doing in a situation.  It might be cool, but that doesn’t mean it will work.

That isn’t to say all of my posts can be overlapped with other genres.  Magic is definitely a big fantasy thing and talking about how to design such a system is fairly niche.  You can look at it as a way to create an energy/life force system in a science fiction story.  Yet, you really can’t go much further than that.  Again, it depends on the story.  It can still trigger something that you might want to try out.

I guess a big piece of advice I’m giving, which kind of counters some stuff from last week, is that you should at least listen.  Mull over what you’ve heard and see if there is anything that you can take for your own genre.  Sure, your serial killer stalking Elvis impersonators won’t be hurling lightning bolts.  She might be sneaking around in a way that requires building tension and suspense like one might create in a stealth or hunting scene.  The suspense is for two different sides of the hunt (horror = those being snuck up on; fantasy = the one who is sneaking), but it can still be carried over.  Heck, even those two things in the parenthesis aren’t true because you can flip the perspective.  All I’m saying is that you never know where you’ll find a nugget of wisdom that will help you.  Although, don’t assume every nugget is gold and you should add it to your basket.  Some of them can be hardened mud balls.

So, what do you think about genre overlapping?  Is it a thing?  Have you ever taken something from one and used it for another?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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12 Responses to The Overlapping of Genres and Styles

  1. You’re 100% correct: tips for one genre can easily be applied to others. Sure, there are some things spacific to one genre or another – the things that help to identify the genre – but for the most part the “rules” are the same regardless of the genre you’re writing in, the species of your characters, etc.

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  2. L. Marie says:

    Great advice! Some books have elements of many genres. I can’t help thinking of your series of course and Harry Potter, which has elements of fantasy, mystery, horror, thriller, and romance. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series has police procedural, fantasy, science fiction, romance, mystery, horror, thriller–really I can’t think of any genre the elements of which his series lacks.

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  3. I do believe in Genre overlapping for sure. My last book is filled with it. I think you are right; advice from someone of a particular genre will translate into other genres if the advice is good.

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  4. Genre overlapping is real. Sometimes to the point of making it hard to pigeonhole something on Amazon. You might toss the paranormal/supernatural genre in there, too. Lots of magic, special items, other humanoids, etc.

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  5. From time to time, I do see people proclaiming that something or another “should never be done in (name your genre)!” As if it’s up to them to decide what that genre is and other people should never have the chance to try anything else. Most often, I hear complaints about fantasy or SF being “too political.” Next most often, they don’t want romances in genre fiction.

    Personally, I see no reason that authors shouldn’t be open to new ideas. Why not borrow strategies from other genres? It just brings the opportunity to make our own work richer and more rewarding.

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    • I hear the romance complaint a lot. It’s one of the most relatable storylines you can do, but I guess many hate it. I think part of it is because it’s dubbed a ‘female’ story, which is bull.

      The political one is plain strange at times. I assume part of it is because those genres are seen as pure escapism. Doesn’t help that everyone is either seeing politics everywhere or forcing it without much tact.

      Liked by 1 person

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