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Truman Capote on genre-crossing

I just finished reading Truman Capote’s Music for Chameleons, and I can’t stop thinking about the introduction, in which he writes about a period in his life when he felt dissatisfied with his writing:

“The problem was: how can a writer successfully combine with a single form–say the short story–all he knows about every other form of writing? For this was why my work was often insufficiently illuminated; the voltage was there, but by restricting myself to the techniques of whatever form I was working in, I was not using everything I knew about writing–all I’d learned from film scripts, plays, reportage, poetry, the short story, novellas, the novel. A writer ought to have all his colors, all his abilities available on the same palette for mingling (and, in suitable instances, for simultaneous application). But how?”

If you cross writing genres, how do you bring the insights and techniques of one form to bear on another? I’d love to hear your own experiences and suggestions in the comments.

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