Hey!! What's the story?
I have written many short stories that are spec. fiction but I find it really hard to say if it is horror or sci-fi or dark fantasy etc. Of course this causes problems when submitting stuff. 'Cross genre' feels like a cop-out definition too. I've checked out various criteria on different sites with mixed satisfaction and I was wondering if you had any insights to offer?
I'm not an expert so take this advice with a teaspoon of salt... Genres are something like recipes, each has their own list of ingredients that they need in order to be. I can mix and match ingredients, swap out certain ingredients for others and I can even drop certain ingredients all together; but if I want a certain product to remain at the end I may need to know what I'm trying to make to begin with. If there is trouble trying to decide what a story is, it may be helpful to reevaluate what you want it to be so that you can edit it to fit that idea better. If you want it to be closer to horror, find your already present horror elements and embellish them a bit. Or perhaps add a few more sprigs of gray to the atmosphere to make some of the scenes darker. If it's a romance, add more spice to make the romantic elements stronger so that the romance is the focus of the novel rather than just the garnish. You don't always have to know what a story is to write it. Sometimes you can write one and find out what kind of onion it blooms into. But there are other times when you have to be Cat Kora, make the hard decisions, and create something with what you've got.
This is how I got past it anyway. I hope it's helpful.
I love the culinary analogy and I'll try a new recipe to see what cooks! I put this topic up for discussion as I had what I considered a sci-fi story rejected on the grounds that it was more fantasy and then I had the same story rejected from another mag as it did not contain enough fantasy... Go figure!
Go figure! I haven't had that happen to me yet, but I did disappoint a reader once because I'd labeled a story "mystery" (and right up her alley) when it was actually a *little, **tiny bit too much like horror. That is mostly the experience that brought me this culinary analogy about recipes, which has helped me to be more careful. That reminds me of another tip I could add (which was handed down to me): read a few sample stories or a magazine or two from the people you're sending stories to. This is so you can see what kind of recipes they prefer to publish and determine if your stories might be happy there or can be fixed. It's also a great way to learn how much violence, gore, cursing, etc. that they typically accept (especially if their terms seem vague). You've probably already heard of that trick, but, just in case you haven't, there it is.
* = humongous
** = gargantuan