When a dangerous or evil person talks, make their dialogue short and to the point. The tighter their speech, the more intelligent and threatening it becomes. Wordy waffling would dilute the effect.
When starting to write my historical romance, Hopelessly, Completely, MADLY in Love, I choose the year 1876 for a simple enough reason. It’s the hundred-year anniversary of the independence of America. I ended up not mentioning this significant fact, because my character, Lexi Donovan, was dealing with some trying issues when the celebration would have rolled around.
To increase suspense in a scene where a dangerous person is about to do something nasty, slow down the pace and describe their hands. This is perfect for when the evil overlord signs the order to exterminate the children, or when the torturer readies his instruments.
This technique works especially well in thrillers. Show the killer’s (or the suspect’s) hands, especially when the point-of-view character is helpless to do anything. This will send creepy shivers across the reader’s skin.
Before moving to Amsterdam, I knew very little about the restitution of artwork stolen by the Nazis during World War Two, a topic that plays a central role in my novel, The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery. Sure, I’d read about controversial cases in newspapers and wondered why museums didn’t hand over the artwork immediately when legitimate claimants appeared on the scene, but also why it took the relative of the legal owner so long to submit a claim.
Tension is good. It makes the reader turn the pages. However, constant high tension soon gets dull. The readers can’t sustain continuous scared excitement, and after a while, instead of roused, they become bored.
It’s like the waves on a stormy sea: the peaks are only high because of the troughs between them. If there were only continuous peaks without any troughs, the sea would be flat.
Your job as writer is to create not just the peaks, but the troughs which make the peaks look high.
‘Here’s my MTW review of Gavin Mills‘ adrenaline-rush of a thriller: Dup Departs…’
‘If you like thrillers involving gangsters, guns, drugs, corruption and action
this book is for you…’
These are comments on Dup Departs by two great writers for Mystery Thriller Week and I am blown away.
I am so glad people like Dup – because a lot of Dup is me, or was me …or something like that. But that’s not the point. Dup is like most anybody, just doing his best to lead an uncomplicated life and provide for his family. And things are not easy… There comes that time when one starts thinking whether he keeps pressing on or finds other cheese (sorry – had to borrow). Haven’t we all gone through that at some time? Is our life worth anything, are we doing what we love, …or are we missing out on life?
What’s a writer of thrillers to do when reality outstrips fiction?
by Brian Greiner
The great fun in writing thrillers is playing with fascinating
technologies and concepts. The problem with thrillers is that eventually,
reality renders all that great tech obsolete—sometimes laughably so. So
how can a writer deal with the inevitable obsolescence of their
carefully-crafted worlds? One way is to simply ignore the problem and
treat the novel as something with a limited shelf life. The other way is
to focus on larger issues, with the technology simply serving as an
exemplar to highlight those issues.
Just the thought elicits visions of maniacal laughter, devilish plots, bumbling sidekicks, and plans to take over / dominate / destroy the Earth. We root for their failure, cringe at their dastardly deeds, and weep at the havoc they wreak.
But to a superhero, these evildoers are as important as ying is to yang. Without them, there would be no dark to offset the light side of the force, no one from whom to rescue Lois Lane, and no one to threaten Gotham City. If the Jedi had been successful at stopping the Emperor, the Empire would have never come to fruition, and OB1 and Anakin would have found themselves unemployable.
I can’t speak for other authors – I write because I love to write, but that doesn’t mean that people will want to read what I’ve written. So that leaves an interesting puzzle on the table. Write because I love to write, but create a story people want to read.
I started my career as an author writing action stories because, as a kid, I loved The Bourne Identity. In fact I loved it so much I read it all through high school. I mean it – I started in grade 8, and I finished it in grade 12. Needless to say, reading wasn’t my favorite hobby and I didn’t read very fast either. But once I read the book (finally, after 5 years), I knew I wanted to be an author and write my own stories.