If there’s one thing agents and marketers hate, it’s a book or movie that doesn’t have a clear genre. It’s simple to market a fantasy, just slap a half naked barbarian and a dragon on the cover. Science fiction just needs a rocket ship or a robot, romance just needs a woman with spectacular cleavage swooning in the arms of a shirtless man.
The marketing is easy, the audience is obvious, everybody knows what to expect.
But the story that doesn’t quite fit into a clear category is tough. Ads and pitches and covers have to sell it in a very limited space, so conveying a lot of nuance isn’t really easy.
But you know who loves stories that don’t fit easily into the pigeonholes?
Firefly is a western, but in space and with some classic s/f thread woven through. Alien was just a horror movie on a space ship. Star Wars, which may be the most universally known piece of pop culture from the past fifty years, could have been subtitled “Everything Cool From Lucas’ Childhood.” It was pretty much as mashup of Flash Gordon, westerns, samurai movies and high fantasy, with a dash of Midway and The Dam Busters thrown in. Glen Cook’s Garrett, PI series is straight Raymond Chandler in a fantasy setting. Out own Kevin Wright has written what may be the definitive Post-Apocalyptic Hindu Steampunk Detective Noir in The Clarity of Cold Steel which you should buy right now before the genre gets too saturated.
As lovers of stories, we devour these hybrids.
My point is that, as a writer, you will be told to pick a genre. Mostly by marketing people for marketing purposes. But if you want to write a historical romantic comedy set during the Potato Famine, all I have to say is:
Shine on, you crazy diamond.