Good Writing – Does it Supersede Genre?

Most readers have their favorite genre, be it romance or mystery or sci fi or…whatever. But I think most of us have crossed the line at some point and found a book we absolutely love in a genre we never read. For example, I read a lot of non-fiction and mystery as a kid, but my father put me onto a fantasy series (the MYTH books by Robert Asprin). The writing was so amazing, and the stories so vivid and amusing that it led me to read other fantasy stories. None of which I cared for.

I’m in the midst of this phenomenon right now, but it’s as a TV viewer. True Blood. I’m not too keen on vampire stories, and Twilight makes me yawn. Yes, I know that’s sacrilege.  But it’s true – I’m just not that into vampires, sparkling or not. Shapeshiters? Meh. But True Blood? I am tuning in every week, just for the sheer talent of their writing staff, who can take Sookie and Bill and all their crazy buddies, put them in impossible situations, and still get them out of it believably. Well, believably for a world where there are vampires and shapeshifters, anyway. (There’s a new shapeshifter book coming out soon, by the way, that has maybe just changed my mind about shapeshifting books, but I digress.)

Some could argue that it’s less about the writing and more about the story. (WARNING: more sacrilege to come) J.K. Rowling is a perfect example of this. Some people can tolerate her waffling along for hundreds of unnecessary pages each book and breaking the rules of her own world (Harry and the thestrals? Anyone?), but I lose patience with her. But still, I forge through the dreck because the stories are amazing! I come out of a Harry Potter book wondering why there isn’t really a Hogwarts and why can’t I go there?

So in the end, what attracts us to a book, a movie, or a TV program? Is it the genre? Is it the writing? Or is it the story? If we’re really lucky, I think we get all three. Then again, I’m not closing myself off to anything, because my favorite could be something new I’ve never seen before.

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