My favorite stories aren’t pure. Pure romances, pure comedies, pure adventures, pure action flicks…they can all be good, but I prefer more variety in a story. A little of many flavors makes for a more varied and delightful experience.
Take romance. If romance is all a story is offering, there needs to be strong romantic developments fairly quickly, otherwise it will become boring (and aggravating) quickly. But most romances only have so many steps (meeting, getting closer, the kiss, etc.), so a pure romance can be over very fast. That’s fine in my book, except many storytellers don’t want to end their stories quickly. Then the romance turns sour.
Take action. Some well-done action can be quite good, but nothing but action, action, and more action can get boring quickly. It’s like eating the same food all the time, until your once favorite flavors turn to ash in your mouth.
Take comedy. A good comedy is wonderful, but if there’s nothing but jokes then your jokes must work, because as soon as they fall flat, you’ve got nothing. If there’s more going on in the story though, there’s something to keep the audience around until the next joke comes.
Yes, there is no such thing as a truly “pure” romance, comedy, adventure, or action story. Every story has other flavors mixed in, a spot of romance, an occasional joke, a dramatic revelation. Yet it’s the ones that more strongly mix in the various flavors – an adventure with good action, a strong romantic subplot, and the occasional funny situation set to make me smile, for instance – that lights my fire on most strongly. Alone I may get tired of any one of those flavors, but together they make for something truly delicious.