Writers have a lot to consider when it comes to telling their stories. (1) What story do they want to tell? (2) How do they want to tell it? (3) What limitations will they accept? (4) How can they reach the most people interested in their story? (5) What do they really want to do as a writer? Choosing the right genre can answer all five questions favorably. It could also be the difference between the life or death of a story and a writing career. My seventh mystery/thriller releases in the spring, and number eight in the winter of 2020. How did I choose my genre?

First, it is important to remember writing is like everything else in life. To do anything well you must dedicate yourself and you must leverage your strengths. Everyone is unique—one of a kind. Therefore, it follows that every story told is unique—an original. No one has the exact same life experiences and God-given gifts. The unique combination of these two truthsproduces a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. In there lies the foundation from which one can write the stories only they can tell.

Second, people do not listen long to people who do not know what they are talking about. If I never flew a plane, why would anyone read my book on how to fly a plane? Yes, my family and friends would, but that’s not enough. If I hunted the most dangerous snakes on the planet, people interested in snakes and danger would line up to buy my book. I will have created something not only unique but of great value to some people.

Third, when you choose the perfect genre—the platform from which your story is told—all five questions posed above are answered favorably. Your perfect genre leverages your most marketable strengths and puts your story into the best vehicle to find the greatest audience. And the perfect genre allows a writer to write like they really want to, not like they must or else.

As an expert forensic investigator, I have handled thousands of complex, traumatic death cases. My training and experience is unique. My stories are spellbinding, chilling, and based on a part of the real world few will ever see but most want to know about. Real curiosity sells the first book. Real suspense and relief sells the next book. Me telling my stories most easily fits three genres—mystery, thriller, and horror. Of course, I could find a way to fit fantasy, romance, sci-fi, folklore, biography, and educational genres, but based on my unique experiences as a forensic investigator, these genres would limit me. And I would miss my primary target audience. For example, a reader looking for a sizzling romanceprobably will not like stepping over a bloody body on the way to the bedroom. Suddenly the romance is gone. However, a little romance in a thriller novel can be tantalizing, enjoyable, and chilling.

My chosen genre is mystery/thriller. Why not just mystery? Why not just thriller? I wrestled with these questions for a year before my Genre Booksfirst book published in 2012. It hit me that as a real-life homicide investigator (first-on-the-scene and forensic skills/responsibilities) I wanted to take my readers with me. I wanted them standing next to me. Seeing and feeling what I saw and felt. Because the mystery genreis about solving a puzzle, it only addressed part of my real-world experience. The thriller genreallowed me to capture the other reality—the immediate onset of terror and the ever-present danger that permeates the dark world where death and desperation reside. Merging the two genres allowed me to favorably answer the five questions.

Find the genre or blend genres to allow you to tell your story. Make sure your choices answer the five questions, and you will succeed as an original in a competitive world.


Steve Bradshaw draws on his experience as the youngest forensic investigator in Texas history with 3,000+ unexplained death investigations, and as an innovative biotech entrepreneur and founder-president/CEO of a leading-edge medical device company. Now, dedicated to writing his unique brand of mystery/thrillers, Steve takes his audiences into the fascinating worlds of fringe science, modern forensics, and the hunt for realmonsters. His novels are available where books are sold in softcovers, eBooks, and audiobooks. Visit Steve’s website and join his member/guest family to receive insider information and special benefits. Steve travels around the country talking and signing books for book clubs, groups, organizations, and companies. To schedule Steve, visit his website and send your request.

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