Genre salad

I do not read only one genre of books, either under the umbrella of romance or not(but let’s stay there for clarity,okay?). I actually read whatever my hand falls on and sounds interesting. RomCom? Wonderful and harder to find than you think. RomSus? Cool? Historical Intrigue, not a problem. Dark Fantasy, bring it baby!.

But my favorite books I find are ones that have a more blurred genre, are harder to shove into a slot. A dark fantasy heroine with a streak of humor is great, a comedy that makes me cry even better. I love it when my heart pounds in excitement, I laugh out loud and weep with emotion all from the same story.

BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT… (insert screeching cartoon car crash noise here)

There are some things that I have never seen work. Not saying you couldn’t mix them, just , hmm, yeah, not my taste. Kinda like going to a salad bar and watching everyone pick their ingredients. That lady got beets(EWWW), that man avoids carrots like the plague, that one wants fat free no oil vinaigrette, that one is slurping ranch with a spoon. Everyone has a different idea what should be on a salad. Me? Among other things, I like boiled egg. Drives my hubby nuts. He would rather eat snot. But then, he likes tomatoes and I don’t.

Can you imagine starving, setting down to eat your nice crisp garden salad. You take a bite and BOOM Hidden under the lettuce is liverwurst. Not a good surprise, huh?

Genre mixing can leave that same bad taste in your mouth. You are really getting into a story. You’re in chapter four of a historical with a dashing cowboy hero and a spirited schoolteacher and BOOM, space aliens land from the planet Whozzit. Say what?

You’re reading a light hearted comedy, giggling right along and BOOM hero’s child dies in a car accident. Whoa, talk about whiplash of the heart.

Could these things be done and done well? Sure, I guess. But to me, somethings shouldn’t mix.

Fantasy writers get away with more simply because, well, they write fantasy. If they want a sarcastic dragon who torches a town just for spit and giggles, they can do it. It is fantasy. But even then, the writing has to be strong enough to carry the idea through. A whole plate of toppings with no lettuce is not a salad, it is buffet of snacks for dipping.

Zingers don’t make comedy, a time period does not make a historical and a murder does not make a suspense novel. Just like a cucumber and an avocado aren’t a salad. They are all ingredients. And a dressing choice can change the flavor of a salad. French is zippier lighter (comedy?), Ranch is creamier (sweet?), Russian is bold, biting (Suspense) I once had a black raspberry vinaigrette that made my mouth water (Erotica?).

Start with a nice bed of fresh lettuce (A plot line), pick your favorite toppings like cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms (Characters, setting, time period, quirks), select a dressing (Tone or feel of the story), top with garnish of bacon bits or croûtons (That hook, the crunch to sink my teeth into). Sit back, enjoy.

And a good book satisfies a hunger and has no calories. Always a biggie!

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3 Comments

Filed under Inez, writing

3 responses to “Genre salad

  1. Great post.

    I’m starting to learn not to judge a book by it’s genre. I’m not usually into sci-fi/romance, but I won a book and read it. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait for the second book in the series.

    The other thing I’ve learned is that your first few chapters promises something to your reader. No matter how willing the person is you can’t throw something out of the ordinary at them in chapter 10 and expect them to stay along for a ride.

    And I’d be mad about Liverwurst being in my salad.

  2. Ally

    LOL! Inez, you make me laugh! That’s quite an analogy, but damn, if it didn’t make perfect sense. 🙂

    I don’t mind a little mixing myself and, off the top of my head–luckily, I can’t think of a book that threw something as unexpected as aliens in inappropriately. I would be annoyed as all get out if I did though.

    And, BTW, now I want a spinach salad with strawberry vinaigarette dressing (thanks to your mention of black raspberry vini).

  3. Lisa Stevens

    Very nice analogy 🙂 I have to agree with Ally, now I’m hungry! lol However if everyone’s ‘salads’ we’re all the same it would be a pretty boring trip to the bookstore.

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