I write this as I came to wrestle this very question the other day. I’ve posted some snippets from the Sci Fi Novella I’m working on and there was something I wanted to do a little different at the end. I wanted to add a horror element.
But you’re writing Sci Fi! And it hasn’t been horror at to this point!
Both points are true, but it felt like I had come to a natural place in the story where it just fit. Yes, the piece has pretty much been a Sci Fi Crime/Action piece with a sprinkling of spy work in it! But we’re at the point where they’re making the return trip home and someone really wants to see them not make it, so there’s a surprise on the ship.
I wrestled with this idea for days. Would the reader get mad at me for the sudden swerve? Would they revolt at the change of tone? And then it hit me: Life isn’t one genre. Sure, you can point at certain times in your life where THIS genre or THAT genre was dominating but life never looses that multi-genre status. Happy romance stories turn to tragedies in a heartbeat. Funny, adventure stories can turn into horror nightmares. As time moves along, the genre we’re in changes, bends a little, and sometimes completely gives itself over to another genre. “Hey, buddy, I’ve had a blast, but it’s your turn…. give ’em Hell.”
So I’m going to do it. All the action and character builds are going to lead us right into a suspenseful ride of horror back to earth. Is it risky? Yes. Am I okay with that? Yes. Life isn’t just one genre and your story doesn’t have to be either.