Saturday, 6 October 2012

how to write thrillers that stay forever in the memory...

Write thrillers with bags of emotion...

When out with friends for a chat and catch up, we often talk about the books we have read (or not read as the case may be).  My friends sometimes think I’m a bit ‘nuts’ as I tell them I often don’t finish novels.
I am a person who hates to waste time so I will only carry on reading a book if the writer has caught me up in a story (involved me emotionally). If I am not enjoying a book I will cast it aside and not waste further time on it. It doesn’t even have to be a really bad book for that to happen – it may simply be that it is boring me a bit. I know that sometimes if I continue it will get better but why should I bother when there are so many other juicy books to get stuck into. On the other hand I know people who will persevere with a book – provided it is not that bad! The engine that turns so-so fiction into well-loved and remembered books? Emotion!
When I ask friends what a book is actually about and they cannot remember I know it wasn’t that good. For me the plot has to hang together well and the story must engage some kind of strong emotion in me. Whether that is horror, happiness, sadness or sorrow an emotion of some kind must be there. When I think back to books I read as a child/young woman I find it is the emotion I remember most clearly about the story.
 I generally judge a good book by how well I can remember it weeks later. If it truly stays with me, I know it was a great book. One such novel in recent months was “The Incredible Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”. That book almost brought me to tears at the end and I can remember most of it even though I read it a while ago! Whereas the one I read last week was fairly good but I can’t remember it without a prompt! Another great recent read was Jo jo Moyes " Me Before You"

No, I know they were not really thrillers but there ARE plenty of thrillers who are awash with emotion (both love and heart warming terror to name but two). In fact I would say thrillers cannot be good stories (no matter how much of a roller coaster ride) without that all important connection to the reader.  Take for example the stories of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Tess Gerritsen, and even Jodi Picoult.  They are all chock full of supense but they also look at our very human frailties and our relatinships with each other. Great reads every one of them!!!

Of course Charles Dickens may have been the best ever for injecting masses of emotion into his stories as well as suspense... Who could ever forget the image of a small thin boy holding out a bowl and asking meekly for more?

 Do certain stories have a big impact for you?


  1. I'm very much like you, life is too short to read a boring book. I have tossed many aside in the last few years. Time is simply too precious.

    Sadly, more so since the self publishing of e-books has taken hold. I find it difficult to trust that a book is well written.

    One book that really sticks in my mind however, is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

  2. I'm with you, Pat. I won't keep reading a book that's not holding my interest. Too many books; too little time. A girl has to move on.

  3. I used to feel like I had to finish every book I started... But you are right life is too short. I have put quite a few down over the last few years.

  4. I really hate stopping books in the middle (although I sometimes do). I generally rely on hearing a LOT of good reviews from people I trust on books before I pick it up, just so I cut down the chances that I'll never finish. I hate not knowing how things end!