Friday, April 05, 2013

Writing: Choosing A Genre

Have you ever wondered how and why a writer chooses the genre in which he/she writes? I hadn't given it a lot of thought, since (as will become apparent further into this post) my choice was easy.

Yesterday, I was featured on the blog of fellow author Candace Calvert, so I decided to return the favor and ask her how she chose the genre in which she writes. Here's her answer:

"After my long (and colorful) years as an emergency department nurse, it seemed natural to write medical fiction. Though TV shows like "ER" were hugely popular, they rarely included elements of faith; I wanted to help 'Grey's Anatomy find its soul.' The warm romance is a bonus, letting readers
glimpse the hearts behind the stethoscopes."

While I was on the subject, I asked fellow author Jordyn Redwood, on whose blog I'll be featured on  April 15, the same question. Here's what she said: "Why do I write in the suspense/thriller genre? To have readers experience the adrenaline rush of the ER in a much safer environment."

To make it three-for-three, let me add that I decided to write medical thrillers because 1) I've read thrillers for fun since my teens, and 2) I practiced medicine for more than a third of a century, the last decade as a professor at a prestigious medical school. So I was able to write with a certain amount of confidence about the area. I might have to look up some things to be sure I was current, but I was sure I could portray the emotions and actions of medical professionals pretty well.

Does this mean authors without a medical background can't write medical fiction? Not really. It just means they have to do more research. My friend, Austin Boyd, hasn't been to the moon or Mars, but he writes excellent fiction about space exploration. He's not a physician, but writes about medical ethics. He just has to work at it. And he does it well.

Can you think of examples of people who write about things in which they have no experience?

(photo via


RP said...

I think it was Phyllis Whitney who loved setting her stories in cities across the US. Since she didn't actually know the cities, she made a point of visiting to do firsthand research. I've long found that inspirational--she didn't know, but she learned, and that voice of authenticity is reflected in her writing.

RP said...

(Sorry--Rebekah Postupak here, @postupak. Blogger prefers my initials, apparently.)

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Rebekah. Good point. Like most authors, I walk a fine line between depending on what I know and doing research, and even in a medical situation I check to make certain things there have been no recent changes.

Appreciate your comment.