Mashing Up Genres

I’ve been writing for almost a full three years now. The time has flown and I’ve written many things. My inspiration comes from many things. However, it is often when my project that is inspired by an amalgamation of other works that I tend to get very excited to explore similar, but new territory. My latest short story has been inspired by both books and movies that I’ve been consuming lately.

One of the key things I’ve found when combining elements that don’t usually go together is to get a solid grasp on what makes those elements unique. Every single element from a work has an established tone and goal. Acknowledging the heart of an element will allow you to manipulate and use that element effectively. For example just because you like heist stories and political thrillers, doesn’t mean you can make a story that merges the two elements well. Heck, it doesn’t even mean that you could make one or the other. The idea isn’t enough often. You generally need to know what makes a story a heist and what elements it uses to make it what it is. Knowing the elements will allow you to twist and manipulate.

More importantly, knowing the elements allow you to see which cross from the two types of stories you are trying to combine. This will allow you to see where the stories could naturally crossover and share common ground. By doing this it will make it clear which elements are potentially the most important to include should you want to effectively combine the two genres. I’m not saying to sit down and plot out the various elements. I don’t make neat lists with all that information there, so I wouldn’t expect you to either. For some people that may be helpful, but all that really matters is that you are cognizant of the elements and how they will play and tug against each other. There’s no need to be a plotter to mash up genres, and the you don’t need to be a panster to throw some elements in a pot and see how they turn out. All you need is to be aware. (If you are a savant, you probably don’t need to be aware, but I doubt there are a whole bunch of savants.)

I’ve dabbled with combining genres that don’t always mix and linking up combinations you generally wouldn’t think of. While, I don’t want to narrow myself down to a specific thing I do, but this combination is kind of my thing. I enjoy trying to make things work together. Sometimes it works out beautifully. Sometimes it’s rough around the edges and requires a bit more time to finesse it into shape. Then there are times when the combos just absolutely don’t work. It isn’t always because of the combination. Sometimes it’s just the characters that aren’t playing nice with the story. It can be the plot device that doesn’t want to naturally incorporate itself into the story. There’s no end for the number of reasons that it may not have worked.

I’ve mashed greek mythology with steampunk. I’ve crossed space opera with spy novel. I’ve crossed spy novel with fantasy. None of it is particularly uncommon, but I’m drawing my inspiration from other works. Does this mean people might say it sounds like this meets that? I would hope so, since that is my goal. However, that doesn’t mean I’m also not trying to make my work stand on it’s own so one day someone else might think to make something like my story.

Do you mash genres?

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