To the Max
I always associate reading a thriller with the experience of riding a roller coaster. The ride is full of scary ups and downs …
First we toil steadily upwards whilst the suspense builds. We giggle nervously because we know what will happen when we get to the top… Or do we? We know (and expect) we will experience a rush of adrenalin but until we actually get there we do not know exactly what it will be like. The anticipation is enough to get your pulse racing and your palms sweating as you hold onto the safety bar and stare upwards at the sky ( best not to look downwards…)
When finally we get to the top we hold our breath… Prepare for the downward whoosh… Then we are plunging downwards and most of us cannot help but let out a terrified scream! Yes, scary… We asked for it and we got it! But fear is not pleasant, you say… But it is when you finally get back to earth, realise it is all over and, crucially, you are still in one piece. This is the thrill that many live for – the intense emotion of having survived.
For most ordinary people the roller coaster is a harmless way of experiencing that thrill. For readers of good thrillers that is what they too expect – perhaps in not such a dramatic way but the highs of a thriller story must be towering and the lows… Well, low... The ride up must be full of incident and the tension and suspense should mount up as the plot gathers pace. Then, in my opinion, the suspense should be taken to the max and not wimped out on. When you think your character cannot take any more ( or things could not be more deadly )that’s when you need to up the stakes and max it. You can always toss in the kitchen sink!
Do you think in terms of raising the stakes higher and higher in your novel writing?