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What Does It Mean When a Text Is Cross-Genre?

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  • Written By: Pablo Garcia
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Cross-genre text refers to works of fiction that blend or combine elements, themes, and structures from more than one genre. For instance, horror and science fiction are considered distinct genres. A science fiction book that also has a strong element of horror as a theme could be characterized as a science fiction-horror story. A character solving a mystery set in the future would be in the genre of a science fiction-mystery. The possibilities for cross-genre fiction are only limited by the many types of genres.

The three broad categories of genre are poetry, drama and fiction. Within the genre of fiction there are numerous sub-genres. These include, among others, romance, westerns, thrillers, mystery, comedy, and adventure. A genre is defined by its shared features and conventions.

In the conventions of many romance novels, for instance, the two protagonists generally go through misunderstandings and conflicts and may initially intensely dislike each other. In the end they learn to appreciate each other and fall in love. When the conflicts are expressed through humorous events, the work can be characterized as comedy-romance.

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There is often a distinction made between literary and genre fiction. Genre fiction is sometimes understood to refer to stories written primarily for entertainment as opposed to some higher purpose, such as to create art. Some writers disagree with this distinction. They point to writers like American author Raymond Chandler, whose detective novels fall within the conventions of that particular genre, but are considered so well written and considered to be good literature. English writer Mary Shelley’s gothic horror novel Frankenstein is viewed in much the same way.

Other types of cross-genre fiction are works that place a story in a particular setting or blend fiction with elements of fantasy or magic. For instance, a romance novel can be set in a period of history where fictional characters interact with actual historical events and people. Adventure-fantasy can involve characters that share their struggles with fantastical creatures and beings. There are literary works containing “magical realism.” The stories take place in the realm of reality, but magical or supernatural forces are at work in the plot.

In an interesting parallel to cross-genre fiction, many young adult aspiring writers are honing their skills writing “fan-fics.” In a fan-fic, the writer takes the characters from popular books or TV shows and places them in new settings and situations. The writer may also invent original characters, “oc’s,” to interact with the established ones. There are also “cross-over” fan-fics, which take the characters from different stories and place them in a story together. Fan-fics are posted on the Internet to be read and commented on by fans of the original stories.

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