Advice on Mixing Genres
I am looking for guidance on mixing genres. I found this interview with the Master himself, Blake Snyder from March 28, 2008, who basically says to stick with one:
"I think at the end of the day, most stories are one thing. I think this is particularly true for movies but it could be a general thing, too. I think, as cavemen, we can only handle one moral to the story at a time. Ghost is a good example because it is indeed a blend of many things, and I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with blending story types together. One of the things I’m toying with is the idea of making a list of movies and showing how they’re combinations of two or three types. Bottom line, usually they’re still just one story with one main thrust. It’s good for the writer, too. What are you trying to say? It’s tough to write a good story." BS
But Blake also says, "Mixing genres and trying different things, all of it. It’s part of every writer’s skill set. You’ve got to experiment. But at the end of the day, if you can wring out a great story from one of these ten genres, it will be plenty satisfying."
Anyone have any thoughts and tips on mixing genres? My story is "Institutionalized", but it also hits the beats for the Golden Fleece and Superhero...
When you say mixing genres, do you mean which of the three takes the lead over the other two?
I think that it's important to know what a story is at its very core; I think the danger is when writers try to do too much in a story, and it lacks focus. But I think mixing genres in the traditional sense is a bit different than mixing the 10 Story Genres of Save the Cat! For example, a lot of movies might look like they are mixing traditional genres... take Avatar for example... it's sci-fi and fantasy and action and adventure... but the best way to classify it using the Save the Cat! genres is Institutionalized. It's easier to discern this if we look at the elements of Institutionalized. There's the group (the scientists and military, as well as the Na'vi), the choice (which side should the hero be on once he starts to blend into both worlds), and a sacrifice (he decides to take down the Institution... with a little help from nature).
Another film that pops into mind is a quirky one, Cowboys and Aliens. In the traditional sense, it mixes westerns and sci-fi... but by looking at the three elements of each genre, we can discover what the story is at its core.
Blake further showed how each genre can be split into sub-groups. For example, Buddy Love falls into different categories: Pet Love, Professional Love, Rom-com Love, Epic Love and Forbidden Love. He details this in Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies and makes it clear how this can be. So I think that while it's good to stick to a certain genre at its core, there is room to experiment and see if the plot can best be served in a different sublevel of that genre.
I think that it's important to know what a story is at its very core; I think the danger is when writers try to do too much in a story, and it lacks focus.
Yes! Thank you, I think that is exactly what I'm doing wrong. I need to drop the MacGuffin, or make it less of an issue, and focus on growth.