Thursday, 23 April 2015

Having a meal at the restaurant of genre

I love eating out. I love everything about the experience. Walking into a restaurant and taking in the smells of freshly cooked food, Perusing the menu to see the choices on offer. Waiting expectantly for my food to arrive. And taking that first mouthful from a steaming hot plate. Mmmm. My mouth is watering, just thinking about it.

What sorts of restaurants do I like best? All sorts of restaurants. I love Italian restaurants and Thai restaurants and Indian restaurants. I love seafood restaurants and even vegetarian restaurants. I like restaurants where the food is rich and spicy, and I also like restaurants where the food is simple and homespun.

Basically, I would never restrict myself to only eating at one kind of restaurant. I love the variety of different types of food, and even of mixing different cuisines in the one meal.

In many ways, I reckon restaurants are just like stories. Just like there are different types of restaurants, there are also different types of stories. I guess the word we'd use to differentiate those types of stories would be genres. And just as I like to eat in a wide variety of restaurants, so I also like to read a wide variety of different types of stories.

When you think about stories in the same way as restaurants, sticking to a single genre starts to sound a bit silly. I can't imagine anyone who would only ever eat from one type of restaurant. And similarly, I can't imagine only ever wanting to read one type of story. Whether a story is a detective mystery or a science-fiction saga or a fantasy adventure, there's no reason why I wouldn't want to read it.

When it comes to both stories and restaurants, I really only have one criterion. Is it any good? If I'm going to a restaurant, I want to know that the food will be tasty, regardless of what type of food it is. And when I read a book, I hope the story will be interesting and engrossing, with good characters and unexpected plot twists, regardless of the genre of the story.

Which (inevitably) leads to my writing. Just as I like to eat a variety of foods and read a variety of books, so I like to write a variety of stories. Why would I want to restrict myself? In my world, continuing to write stories in the same genre would be equivalent to only ever going out to eat in Italian restaurants. I'd get bored really quickly. And if I'm bored as a writer, I'm sure that will come through to the readers of my stories.

So that's my piece for the week. If you're eating out, hope the food is great, no matter what sort of food it might be. And if you're reading a book, hope the story is great, no matter what genre it is.


  1. My wife loves eating out. I’ve never been that fussed. I mean I’ve done it dozens—hundreds?—of times in my life but I can’t pretend it’s how I’d prefer to spend thirty or forty quid. That’s three or four books or CDs that’ll last me a lifetime. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it. And if you buy used books and CDs—which I do—then thirty or forty quid will go a long way. But I do agree with you when it comes to quality. It’s why I don’t understand people buying one of the Fifty Shades novels just to see for themselves how bad it is. It’s like sticking your hand over a flame. Oh, yeah, it does burn. When it comes to food I can’t say I’m very adventurous. Given any say in the matter I’ll head for an Indian. Never been to a French restaurant or an Italian. Don’t think I’ve ever seen an Australian restaurant but we did have kangaroo burgers for the first time a couple of weeks back and they were lovely. Immediately went out and bought another couple of packets. Literature-wise I do prefer literary fiction. Most genre novels feel like light snacks by comparison. Nice occasionally but they wouldn’t sustain me for long.

    1. Hi Jim. Kangaroo burgers eh? I think I'll stick to my Thai food. Cheers.

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