Genre tips

Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Military Genre

A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post every day except Sundays during the month of April on a thematic topic–nothing else. This year, I’ll be covering writing genres.

Today’s genre:



A subgenre of thrillers that focus on the military in the plot

Tipsa to z

  1. Consider whether certain violent elements need to be included.
  2. If your violence is comic, be cautious of subtext. Some may be sensitive to the meaning.
  3. Research is key. You have to describe the weapons and strategy correctly.
  4. Understand the military before writing about it.
  5. Respect the military and their processes. Most successful military fiction is positive about the military.
  6. Make sure your characters sound military, from their appearance to their language to their thoughts and actions.
  7. Know the military details relevant to the era you’re writing about.
  8. Use appropriate military language. Research it if necessary or interview someone who can walk the walk.
  9. Know the culture of military life. It’s different than civilian.
  10. Include lots of action. Military fiction is not as introspective, character-driven, or sensitive as other genres.

Popular Books

  1. Killer Angels by Jeff Shaara (and pretty much anything by Jeff Shaara)
  2. Master and Commander by Aubrey Maturin
  3. Semper Fi by W.E.B. Griffin (and most of Griffin’s series)
  4. The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James D. Hornfischer
  5. Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
  6. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  7. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  8. The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
  9. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  10. The Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy
  11. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy
  12. From Here to Eternity by James Jones

More M Genres:

Click for complete list of genres

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for May 2017. Click to follow its progress.

36 thoughts on “Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Military Genre

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  4. Jacqui,

    Great pointers. This wouldn’t be a subject I’d feel comfortable writing about but I have the utmost respect for our servicemen/women. A few of the books you mentioned, I did catch the flicks which is generally my preference since I don’t read novels often. Unfortunately, my brain is hardwired to reading only short pieces like magazine articles and blog posts. Thank you for visiting on Saturday’s post, Art Sketching Through the Alphabet “M” (Mermaids), I’m a bit behind but making my way to everyone! Have a good week. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to confess: I didn’t choose this topic. My daughter’s in the Navy, my son in the Army, so when I started writing my novel, those two adult children kept intruding on my writing (as children tend to do).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Jacqui – they may be fringe as you mention to Carrie – yet a good strong niche to be in … there’s lots out there .. particularly stories/history of recent wars – let alone earlier ones … and anyone who has been through a war will have insider information – essential in making the novel believable. Have a good Easter – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree–and I think that’s the power of Indie authors. We can write for those fringes, get published, have a good writing career, all without an agent telling us we aren’t relevant enough!


  6. Is there an overlap between the war novel and military? Used to read a lot of Alistair MacLean’s books at one point. And All quiet on the western front, And Hemingway’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I would add Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. I bought an autographed copy for my husband, a Vietnam vet, and he loved it. He is personally familiar with the events on which the story was written and found it believable. Again, I’m surprised, after reading the genre title, to find I’ve read several titles. I’d also add Catch 22, a WWII satire by Joseph Heller.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was great–you’re right. That’s impressive that your husband agreed with the interpretation of events. It’s something I worry about in my books.

      Let me ask you an odd question? What do you do with an autographed copy of a book? Is it just to know the author put pen to paper in your book or is there a market for them?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess there may be a market for certain autographed books some day, but that’s not my motive. My admiration for writers plays out this way. I’m not a rock and roll groupie, I don’t follow fashion trends, I don’t eat at fancy restaurants. But I love an autographed book. Sometimes I come across one at a bookstore, but more often it’s at a writer’s convention of some sort.

        I’ve only been disappointed once, when I ordered an autographed book from an on-line company and got back a completely unintelligible scribble. I messaged the company and they said it’s the way the author signed every book. I guess he’s one of the rare authors who is asked so often that he can afford to be disdainful of his admirers.

        Just wait till someone asks me to autograph my book for them one day – l’m going to write a personal message that can be read! (Anybody listening?)


    • I think this is best written by someone who’s experienced it. There are stories of authors who wrote highly-believable stories without being in war (Red Badge of Courage maybe?), but I think those are the exception.

      Liked by 1 person

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