Rhyming

In his book The Practice, Seth Godin talks about rhyming:

The people you bring your work to want to know what it rhymes with, what category it fits in, what they're supposed to compare it to. Please put it in a container for us, they say. We call that container genre.

He clarifies:

Not generic, which is boring, but genre, which gives your audience a clue as to what this work is about.

Rhyming is all about taking a familiar concept and shifting it over just enough to create something new.

A good example of this is a movie like Happy Death Day. It rhymes with the genre of the horror slasher, but it also rhymes with the plot of Groundhog Day. Both genres are familiar, but the creators turned it into something fresh enough that it resonated with audiences—earning $125.5 million worldwide on a $4.8 million budget.


I had a similar experience recently.

I was working on an idea that originally started in science fiction. It's a genre I love to consume, but not one I'm comfortable with writing.

However, when I combined it with the murder mystery, I knew I had something. Both genres were familiar, but by shifting them over just a bit, I had discovered something interesting and new that I was excited to write.