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Secrets of thriller writing

Bondi Beach

I attended the Thrillers: Secrets of the Craft (Event No. 27) discussion at the Bay Area Book Fair on Saturday, June 3. As promised, here are the secrets.

The secrets to writing a successful thriller are as follows:
--- Character drives plot;
--- Plot drives the story and reveals character, but good characters required;
--- A physical macguffin is not required, but the story has to be about something to care about;
--- Character first, plot second;
--- Plot first, character second;
--- Plan things out;
--- Don't plan; start somewhere and keep going;
--- Write good scene after good scene until you have a book;
--- Copyeditors are assholes* (that's a quote);
--- Author A: "Sometimes I don't know who my protagonist is until I'm 200 pages into the book";
--- Author B: "There were two characters in the first scene. I thought the protagonist was Character 1. It turned out, at around page 100, the protagonist was actually Character 2";
--- The difference between a mystery and a thriller is (a) if you wrote a thriller the decimal point moves one place to the left in your check, and (b) a decision by the marketers;
--- Everyone is into sex but people differ on how much sex they want; two of the three said they aim for PG-13-level sex (not clear whether that applied to violence);
--- Reveal character through action;
--- Bad character might want to do good; good character may do bad things;
--- Best villain is one who abuses power and believes abuse is justified;
--- All three said when they were writing they didn't think the work was any good;
--- Writer's work is to sit down and write [not goof off].

* Especially when they attempt to correct language errors in dialogue

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Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Bondi Beach

--- Character first, plot second;
--- Plot first, character second;


Huh?

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@Switch Blayde

--- Character first, plot second;
--- Plot first, character second;

Huh?


Exactly. There were diverging viewpoints.

bb

Replies:   REP
REP

@Bondi Beach

Sounds a lot like what we amateurs do. Get an idea, create a few scenes, tie them together with something, and then post/publish. :)

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@REP


Sounds a lot like what we amateurs do. Get an idea, create a few scenes, tie them together with something, and then post/publish. :)


Oh, dear. You just gave it away. The "secrets" of the craft are actually not secret. ETA: It's a question of how well one performs those "secrets."

As for tying together and posting, the author with 27 published novels says he has two editors, at his own expense, look through his draft (which may already be a second or third or fourth draft) *before* he submits it to his publishers.

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Replies:   Bondi Beach  REP
Bondi Beach

@Bondi Beach

Oh, dear. You just gave it away. The "secrets" of the craft are actually not secret.


John Grisham has suggestions for writing popular fiction (I guess "popular" is code for "commercial," i.e., not "literary" fiction.)

(Print paper headline is "Suggestions," not "Do's and Don'ts")

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Replies:   Michael Loucks
Michael Loucks

@Bondi Beach

John Grisham has suggestions for writing popular fiction (I guess "popular" is code for "commercial," i.e., not "literary" fiction.)

(Print paper headline is "Suggestions," not "Do's and Don'ts")


Intersting, though I'm not sure the last chapter has to be written. Knowing where I'm going in a general way is all that's necessary.

Prologues as fun and I used them in AWLL, but I'm not using them in the new story I'm writing Good Medicine. I can see his point on that one.

REP

@Bondi Beach

author with 27 published novels


Yeah that's the difference between a professional who makes money off writing and an amateur.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@REP

author with 27 published novels

Yeah that's the difference between a professional who makes money off writing and an amateur.


Usually it's only the difference between a writer who got picked up by a publisher or an agent, and one who couldn't make contact with them.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Usually it's only the difference between a writer who got picked up by a publisher or an agent, and one who couldn't make contact with them.

Hell, I've published 16, and all I earn is a pittance. Enough for the occasional toy, but not much more. Certainly not enough to quit my disability over (though I'm crossing my fingers that the Republican's don't vote for Trump's dismantling of the State's disability programs).

Replies:   REP
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Trump's dismantling of the State's disability programs).


Unless it is Federally funded, I doubt there is much Trump can do to it. But he is fouling everything else up so spillover may occur.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Unless it is Federally funded, I doubt there is much Trump can do to it. But he is fouling everything else up so spillover may occur.

Trump, as always, can't do diddly to change existing laws. Only Congress can do that, and they still seem incapable of passing ANY law of any kind. While disability payments are controlled on state levels, the underlying rules and (I believe) much of the funding is federally based (though I'm not sure how much).

However, between healthcare and this, Trump is threatening the services a large percentage of his 'most loyal' followers depend on. They may support him at the moment, but once they start to see their money drying up, his level of support might be questionable.

Then again, his support didn't drop much following his medical care proposal either, so maybe middle-America simply doesn't care about their futures.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Trump, as always, can't do diddly to change existing laws.

But he seems to do a good job of violating them and the Constitution. I don't trust him or anyone associated with him.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@REP

I am surprised he hasn't outlawed the card game, Bridge, because people bid "No Trump".

When angry, Donald Duck quacks. Donald Trump tweets. He reminds me more of Scrooge McDuck than Donald. Girlfriend Daisy and Nephews Dewey, Hewey and Louie are harder to fit in the Trump comic.

Replies:   REP
REP

@richardshagrin

Ivanka might fit Daisy and Jahred, Spicer, and Kellyanne for the other three.

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