Incongruous Juxtaposition – Genre Combination and the Art of Mayhem

“The force of Nature could no farther go: / To make a third she joined the former two / Don’t try this with prescription drugs.”

Being creative. Sometimes it takes a bit of the “add this incendiary here” to the “gee, what’s this thing on fire here” to get something going. Dynamite. Grenades. The hydrogen bomb. The exploding PB&J. Things that have bettered life, merely by taking one thing that works (like hydrogen) and adding it to something else that works (a bomb).

Same goes for writing, no? Sometimes the pigeon can’t be crammed further into that hole. Problem? Dig another hole. Go for that historical chick-lit, that Western Gothic mystery, or the epistolary autobiography. Blow something up. Just don’t screw it up.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Are there certain kinds of genres that shouldn’t go together? I want to write some crossgenre works, but I need to make sure I’m not trying to combine oil and water here. Thanks man.  

—Jacob Art, New Orleans, La.

You won’t have an issue combining oil and water, chemically speaking.

You will have an issue if you treat genre combination like a popcorn bowl of meds, mixed up, unmarked, ready for a party of post-pubescent idiots, psychotropic stomachaches, and a house call from your nearest EMT.

I’ll give you a few of the “don’t write these” combinations, as long as you and your buddies don’t write these. I’m not responsible for anaphylactic shock or somnambulistic seizures.

Prehistoric Legal Thriller

“Tru’ok Rgh’ghr faces his stickiest legal battle yet, with intrigues ranging from a pterodactyl accident to a so-called “wheel.” The inventor of fire, Groth’r Mngroah, is found dead in his two-story cave, clutching a tablet bearing strange writings. The blame quickly falls on Groth’rr’rr, the only one in the village who can write. While Tru’ok takes what seems like a hopeless case, confident he can persuade a thick-headed jury, he soon finds himself in over his thick, protruding brow with the swirling cloud of deceit surrounding the case.” — Requires too much suspension of disbelief regarding cavemen, the legal system, and the “thrilling” aspect of legal matter.

Armpit Slick / Feminist Lit

(If you don’t know what “armpit slicks” are, then you’ve missed out on life. Look them up, puke your bloody bath of laughter, then come on back.)

“Jane Peacelove toils away in her kitchen, longing for freedom from cooking, baking, and sandwich making. Little does she know that she (and countless other housewives) are being held captive by an unlikely alliance of Nazis, Communists, and Nordic Socialists. As she tackles her womanly duties, she fantasizes over a “knight in shining armor,” ready to sweep her away.  Little does she know that Ace Racer, a shirtless male model/soldier of fortune, hatches a plan to break into the fortress and face countless odds to free countless damsels in distress. Will they escape? Will Ace survive? Will Jane ever be liberated from her womanly shackles?” — (Sorry, I’m still laughing about “armpit slicks.”)

Hardboiled children’s detective fiction

“After discovering the body of a coke dealer, the Boxcar children find themselves sucked into an unforgiving world of drugs, violence, and addiction as their curiosity gets the best of them.” — from The Boxcar Children: The Seven Pounds of Blow Mystery. Yeah, imagine what you’d do to your average 4th-grader (and her parents) with a classic like that.

Christian bromance

“Brace wants to share his faith with his best bro Chad. But while they share a love of Jack Johnson, XBOX 360, and AXE body spray, will they find a mutual friend in Jesus Christ?” — I shouldn’t have to explain this one.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (, followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and found in the latest “Man’s Life,” available at your nearest five and dime. 


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