It’s one thing to be able to write in an established genre. The basics of the world are already there. Every now and then some writer breaks the mold. Once in a really great while, that new book is so influential that others borrow heavily from it. Ta da! A new genre of literature is born.
Let’s take a recent example: Steampunk. Who would have thought the retro-future would have become so popular? In retrospect there are some solid reasons for it catching on. We live in a world dominated by plastic and the virtual. Steampunk is S/F, but S/F with steam, gears and shiny brass wheels. There’s a weight and physicality that’s missing from our world. It also ties into a nostalgia for a world that never was but might have been.
So how does an ambitious and daring writer build a genre all their own? One way is to write in a split off from a better known genre. Right now there are books coming out written in a Dieselpunk genre. Dieselpunk is like Steampunk in that it’s retro-futuristic, but builds more on the 1950s diesel era, heavy on the chrome, skip the steam. Will it take off and become more mainstream? No idea. Much will depend on the quality of the writing and fickleness of the readers.
There are mash ups of genres: S/F and Fantasy, S/F and Mystery, Fantasy and Mystery, heck we’ve even got S/F and Westerns -you can mix and match and build something new. How about S/F and Art History? No? Well, not everything is a winner.
One thing that does not change: good writing is good writing. An interesting story is an interesting story, no matter what genre it’s written in.
-Raymond M. Coulombe