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Genre Crossing: Do or Don't?

Often times authors create a strong image for themselves by writing in a specific genre. When you think of Stephen King you think horror. But what about those who experiment with different genres? Are they simply stretching their creative limbs or are they lost and in need of a home? While perhaps more relevant to younger writers this also applies to giants in the industry such as Lois Lowry who’s most renowned for her novel "The Giver" (A dystopian novel) and "Number the Stars" (Historical fiction). These novels vary in setting, character, and most notably the year they take place. Despite being entirely different works they belong to the same author who was able to stretch her talent across genres. But how often does genre crossing work? There is also the question of slipstream in which writers cross genres, such as fantasy and science fiction, within a story. What does that entail? Does genre crossing enhance or sabotage one’s career as a writer?

  • it might be interesting to consider how much control the writer has in defining/confining genre - there's a lot of argument that genres are created out of reader recognition, according to current context, in the moment of consumption ... which might explain the concern of some writers about their works being read/received 'wrong'. – rosemichael 4 years ago
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  • While Stephen King is best known for horror like It and The Shining, he also wrote Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption; the latter being turned into the #1 film of all time on IMDb. – AGMacdonald 4 years ago
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  • A complex issue with no clear-cut answers. Marketing has a lot to do with genre policing of course. There are obvious commercial/publishing risks if an author creates a work that is hard to button-hole. Which shelf should it go on? But if you're writing literary fiction, rather than so-called 'popular' fiction, then genre-bending, along with all sorts of other experimentation, is fair game. – SFG 4 years ago
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  • It can be frustrating for new authors with stories that don't fit neatly into a stereotypical genre to even get published. Many of the examples given are from established authors who are given more leeway. Genre crossing within a single piece of literature is much trickier. – MB42 4 years ago
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