I’d like to write a couple of posts about genre writing, and since my story, The Soul Eaters, is still free today, I thought I would introduce the topic with a specific example.
I wrote the story for a friendly competition on the Literotica website two years ago. I and several other authors were charged with using a photo to write whatever story it inspired in us. My very good friend Freya Lange wrote in her blog about it today, thanks Freya!
The photo, as you can see, is of a man and woman relaxing by the pool of a spectacular resort in some exotic locale. I couldn’t help but wonder what the other authors would see when they looked at the photo. How many of them would use the setting as the backdrop for a story of sex and seduction in some faraway place, the heat of the sun, the warmth of the sand, the coolness of the water on hot skin.
But as Freya pointed out, I tend to look at things a little differently, I see the darkness around the edges. I thought, what if that scene was not as alluring at it looked? What if the static nature of the photograph was the story? What if that man and woman, who looked like they were on some one-of-a-kind vacation, were actually trapped, living out some hell scenario disguised as a heavenly experience?
From these thoughts, The Soul Eaters was born. I’m not sure when I decided to write it in the mythical voice I did, that style for the story-telling just kind of happened. It’s the way the story wanted to be told.
But, because I didn’t set out to write a sci-fi story, or a horror story, or a fantasy story specifically, I find this particular tale hard to categorize. That it falls under erotica is certain, but what kind of erotica is it? Fantasy or horror? There are elements of both, but it defies description. It is fantastical and horrific. The main characters are selfish, destructive Hindu demigods, not even Greek or Roman gods, so there is no kind of correlation to a mythology readers might be more familiar with.
I can’t help but wonder if defying traditional genres hurts a story, or helps it. Is the fact The Soul Eaters could be classified as erotica, fantasy and horror a good thing, or a bad thing? Are readers these days so used to being fed ultra specific genre writing that they can’t accept a story that doesn’t specifically fit any? Are the definitions of each genre too rigid?
Maybe it is possible that if we start genre-bending our genre stories, the label that will matter most is that of really excellent writing, and the best stories and most talented authors will rise to the top, to the benefit of readers and writers alike.