Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Thrill of It All

I'm staring to really love the thriller genre. And y'know what? I think I've loved it all along and just never really realized what it was that I loved. Spy stories, check. Lots of suspense, check. Mystery, check. Danger, check. Edge-of-your seat tension, check. But to give that all a specific name - well, it just didn't "click" with me until today. (And somehow, I feel incredibly dumb for it not "clicking" with me before.)

I love thrillers. Love them. For me to really enjoy a good novel, it's got to have some type of suspense in it, some form of danger. I love Ken Follett, Clive Cussler, and Jack Higgins and I'm starting to find an awful lot more authors out there. There's some good romantic suspense that I'm delving into. In fact, I'm just hitting the tip of the iceberg. I've got an entirely new genre to read!

They always say you should write the kind of book you like to read, right?

And that brings me to my point. I think I'm going to try my hand at writing a romantic thriller. Actually, I already made that decision a long time ago when I started delving into my World War II fiction. I called it suspense for awhile - but I really think "thriller" encompasses it all. (Who knew a definition could be so important? A thriller is different than a mystery in a lot of ways.) And of course, romance is going to be thrown right in there along with the danger and intrigue.

With this new realization comes a whole other nest of responsibilities. A thriller has it's own "formula", to a certain extent. There are a few key items you need to include in your novel for it be an on-the-edge-of-your-seat read. Lots of action. A ticking time bomb, so to speak. Danger. Brian Garfield has an excellent article called the Ten Rules for Suspense Fiction that John Grisham revealed as the article that gave him the tools to create The Firm.

In a sense, I feel like I'm a newborn babe. While I enjoy these books, I do not yet know how to create them. And herein lies the conundrum. Just because I like to read these books, does that mean I can learn how to write them? Should I put forth the effort of taking the time to study the craft of suspense? Is it possible for me to learn how to create the twisting road that a thriller takes? Up until now, I've written a Regency historical with an element of suspense to it, but nothing close to what it needed to be, which is why it's sitting on my harddrive right now. My second book is an inspirational World War II novel, a far cry from a suspense. And now...now I want to delve into the thriller world. (Which brings up the whole branding issue, but I'll save that for another post.)

I feel myself starting to move toward a more mainstream feel to my books. My writing is gravitating that direction and I couldn't even begin to tell you when it happened. But when the muse starts tapping you on the shoulder and urging you to look in that shadowy corner, you've got no choice but to take at least a small peek, right?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts...


  1. This is so exciting Melissa. It's not every day that the muse taps on the shoulder (well, not mine anyway:-)), so I say GO FOR IT.

    Thanks for the link to the article. John Grisham is one of my favourite authors.

    Good luck with peeking into that shadowy corner...

    Sue :-)

  2. What fun! Always go with your creative instincts. Sometimes it's difficult, moving out of your comfort zone. But it's always worth it in the long run.

  3. I think you should do it!! Write the kind of books you like to read :-) That's the key. Good luck!!

  4. I agree with everyone else. Putting some time and effort into learning how to write something that really speaks to you will show in the final quality of the book you produce.

    You can do it!

  5. Well, I'm going to sound like a rerun but I agree. I think if it's something that calls to you, then you should definitely go for it.

    By the way, stop by my blog cos you won my contest! :)

  6. I've always read fantasy pretty much exclusively, but I recently had a shot at a couple of thrillers and am now finding myself drawn more to that genre than my 'chosen' genre.

    I think it would be a completely different writing experience.

  7. Go for it...there's life outside the box :)

  8. Umm...I'm not sure. I like reading women's fiction and historical fiction, but I couldn't write it. I like reading humorous southern stories, but I can't write them. So not always can you write the books you enjoy reading. Try working on a thriller and see if it works, but don't shut the door on romance writing.

  9. I think you're right to peek in the shadowy corners. As writers, I think we change and grow with our craft and develop new interests that push us in new directions. Why not go there? Who knows where the ride will take you?

  10. You do what feels right to YOU and that's what will make your stories special.


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