Composite redistribution, and flux define the survivality and newness of any group, species or order. So it is with literarture. Enter the newest category in literary arts >>> HYBRID
Hybridisation is essential to variety, randomisation and innovation. In writing, it’s rewarding to fuse disparate forms, and even re-jigging tools and tropes: for example, supernatural beings in politico-social related fiction, magic in regular love story, element of horror in (recorded) historical essay, both prose and poetry in a visual image, and tech-wizardy in creative prose. How about, maybe, within the limits of the flash fiction you’re drafting, blurring the boundaries of autofiction and thriller, experimenting with narrative voice, tinkering with approach or plot lines or dialogues to tell a completely different version of the story? Bottomline is to share an esentially unique experience. If it doggedly refuses compartmentalisation, so be it! Because, what gets created thus, is definitely a hybrid.
Where did it originate? Hybridsation is essential to natural creation. What nature creates today, thinkers and artists replicate tomorrow. Defying rules, ignoring conventions, and nullyfying predictions of final product, results in newness that is challenging but highly satisfying. It is also perhaps a form of creative decentralisation, where set principles, and acquired knowledge, get wilfully thwacked, to allow for regeneration, and renewed interest.
How to prevent ‘Hybrids’ from becoming a mess? Firstly, clarity. Become the reader. Expect to write what you want to read. Something you haven’t read before! Secondly, in genre mashing, keep it personal and unique. Rely on one central theme/form/genre and then branch out. Thirdly, recognize your writing skills, strengths and weaknesses. Avoid attempting unifying those genres where you may not be equipped to do enough. Fourthly, watch out for flows and linearity, alongwith with efficacy and messaging. Crowding too many forms or themes may turn out to be confusing. Finally, do not hesitate to try out new things, but, start small.
In this blogpost, I’ll highlight a few hybrid works published in recent times that are remarkable for their innovation, and may just lead you to new ideas you may want to experiment with. I’ll also be pointing you to publications that are highly encouraging of hybrid submissions.
Loved Census by Jade Hidle (CRAFT). It uses “If I check this box” as a refrain to highlight race divisions in “American” society. The choices in a census questionnaire bring forth the angst of historical exclusion.
Perhaps make a choice to read A Broken Alphabet by Tracy Seid (The Offing). Race through the lines to move to the brilliant ending: You: a zenith zeroed down to sleep.
Another piece that really defies classification is The Husband’s Answers by Rebecca Hazelton (Gulf Coast Magazine).
For something really out-of-the-box, read Lucy Zhang’s Because the world is trying to kill you, have some tonic herbs Consider the title’s cleverness and then read the interactive hybrid poem (published in Black Warrior Review).
Further tips to Hybrids:
Definitely try out Hybrids when “stuck” in your process, unable to advance or in doubt
Don’t be too self conscious, just be out-of-the-box
Use hints to tell the reader the kind of mix you’re attempting, and steer clear of genre-defining stereotypes
Be confident of what you’re attempting: readers love a writer when they know where to lead them
Avoid thinking about the ultimate end result, and avoid cliches
Finally, there’s zero room for plagiarism. Maintain originality at all costs.
Being a relatively new category, places that welcome Hybrid work maybe hard to find. Here are some you may submit to: The Offing, Bending Genres, CRAFT, Storm Cellar, Black Warrior Review, DIAGRAM, Hobart and Gulf Coast. Also check out these, currently open: Passages North, Permafrost Magazine, and Foglifter Press.
That is all for today. Writing and posting micro craft essays since October 2021, two each month for a whole year, plus special posts, was a great learning trip and an even greater experience sharing them. You may find all the essays here. “Hybrids” is the penultimate post in this series. The last one, later this month, will be “Collections”.
Hope you found something useful. Like and share, and keep writing, keep innovating!
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