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Monday, February 23, 2009

Genre Hopping

You might be a genre hopper if... you sit down to watch a movie and are seriously torn between the merits of Bourne Identity vs Pride and Prejudice.

Last night I sat there weighing the basic points: Bourne has action, good actors that I like, and lots of explosions and violence. Pride and Prejudice has um.... well, it's hilarious!

What you thought I was going to watch it for romance? Right, and Vogons write poetry because deep down, they just want to be loved.

You mean you think people actually read every book for the reason it's written? You don't ever, in your darkest of hearts, suspect that readers might misconstrue your meaning? You've never suspected that a well-meaning victim isn't turning your tale of tragic love into a comedy as they read? You don't think that there isn't someone snickering during your climatic battle scene?

Oh. Dear me. You poor soul.

Maybe I ought to explain some of the basic facts of life to you.

I love P&P. Don't get me wrong, it's one of my favorite books. I would have never read it if my father hadn't forced me to listen to the audio tapes he'd bought for my stepmother while driving to colleges. The trip ended just after Darcy's first proposal. I was flabbergasted, he really hadn't proposed marriage, had he? I mean... really? to Elizabeth? Was he out of his ever-loving mind???

I had to read the book.

And I loved it! Elizabeth was sensible and the rest were utterly ridiculous. Like the charming Miss Bennett, I dearly love to laugh. Jane and Bingley are hysterical, they fell in love over a few dances? Is that even possible? The rest of the Bennett clan is insensible. Darcy is just... beyond words. People like Mister Darcy as a romantic lead, apparently because he broods. I just don't get it. On a list of top ten heroes I want saving my day, Darcy doesn't even hit the top fifty. I guess I prefer a guy who has more than money going for him.

Jane Austen, bless her heart (as we say in the south), wrote P&P as a romance. I love it for the comic value.

I write sci-fi because I enjoy explosions, I know some reader will enjoy it for the comic value, or maybe for the romance between characters (it was bound to happen eventually- boy + girl usually equals at least some smoky looks across a crowded war zone). I'm okay with that, as long as people get some enjoyment from my work, and as long as I'm in love with my writing, I don't care if the reader is getting the same point from the book as I did.

Think of poor William Shakespeare. How do you think he'd feel if we dragged him to a college lit class? People are trying to find meaning in Midsummer Night's Dream. I'm sure he'd be confused beyond all reason. The play was written for a wedding, it had five million inside jokes, and was (probably) hastily put together. I'm willing to bet Shakespeare was thinking politics and money, not deep philisophical meaning.

What about you? Do you ever read a genre for all the wrong reasons? Do you think people might one day debate the deep meaning of your work even though it all started just for fun? Or am I just crazy?

Photos copyright to the respective studios, photographers, and actors portrayed in them as appropriate.


  1. On Writing.com I have an introductory piece of me and my writing persona. A 'welcome to my hidden cottage in the woods' type of thing. And I got this review calling it a "brilliant piece of literary artistry", followed by seven paragraphs analyzing this short piece. Blew my mind.

  2. Well, at least I know people are entertained reading my work no matter what they're reading it for. I'd rather have them laugh then be bored out of their minds, you know?

  3. Does watching detective shows because I want to see what's happening in the detective's lives count?

    The crimes and solving them don't appeal half as much as the one liners and the snippets of characterisation that have everything to do with the detectives and nothing to do with the plot of that show :)

    BTW - I've always considered P&P a romantic comedy - with a strong emphasis on the comedy :)

  4. Sure. I will read stuff to laugh at it or for the hot guys or... O:) (Wait, some genres were MADE for that, never mind...)

    When I pick up cross-genre romance (and yes, I do... when I'm in a mood) I never read it for the romance, but something else. :P So... I guess I do, in answer to your post.

    ~Merc (stop looking at me like that, it's not like I picked up a pink book)