You’re not only one thing and your book doesn’t have to be either.
This past April, Alyx Harvey took us on a journey into genre blending. Genres are categories of artistic composition, as in music or literature, that have similarities in form, style, or subject matter. Examples of writing genres are fantasy, science-fiction, romance, and mystery. Sub-genres include dystopian fiction and cozy mystery.
What if a story isn’t just a mystery? What if there is a romance that circles the heart of the mystery plot? What if magic lives in the world of ranches and cowboys? What if there’s a murder on a space station? That’s when a writer might need to blend.
Alyx reminded us not let genre rules hold us back. The story always comes first. Genre might be a map for readers to find your books, but it was not created by writers or readers. It’s a modern construct. It’s a set of rules and creative rules are meant to be broken. However, when a read enters into the genre of story, there are certain expectations. There is comfort in a reader picking up a romance novel expecting a happy ending. There is comfort in the sweeping world-building and magic of a fantasy novel. These expectations, or tropes, are not inherently bad. They can be badly done, but they can also add to the story. They can help the reader invest in the journey.
Above all, enjoy what you’re writing. Blend genres that you like and respect, genres that serve the story.