We value honesty. Yet in the best thriller novels dishonesty trumps honesty.
As we go through our day to day lives, most of us appreciate associating and coming into contact with honest people. We usually purchase a home or an automobile after lengthy conversations and discussions with agents that we trust. Rarely does one make such major purchases from a blatant dishonest person. We value honesty. Yet in the best thriller novels dishonesty trumps honesty.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” was not called a thriller, and yet it fits the genre. It has suspense and mystery. Readers are immediately empathetic to the fear the two children have of mysterious Boo Radley. Almost simultaneously the reader is jettisoned into the case of Tom Robinson who has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell. Mayella is a liar and her father Bob is too. He is also a bully. The theme of the novel is racism. Racism is a dishonest belief that some hold about the human race. It implies that one group of people is superior to another. Without Mayella’s lies and the theme of racism, the novel would have been just another story about a small Southern town. It is the dishonesty that keeps the reader turning the page. Dishonesty trumps honesty. And in my opinion, makes the novel one of the best thriller novels.
“A False Start” is a thriller. Readers immediately become passengers in a red car driven by a heavily intoxicated female driver. She hits a pedestrian and keeps going. She refuses to do the honest thing which would be to stop and greet the police when they reach the scene. Instead she drives all the way from Manhattan to Connecticut where she hides the car. It is her dishonesty that creates a way for another woman to escape an abusive marriage. The reader is drawn into the story from the beginning as one extraordinary event leads to another. A web of deceit is woven. Dishonesty trumps honesty. And, in my opinion, will eventually make the novel one of the best thriller novels.
As a noun the word trump is most often used in card games. The trump is defined as a playing card chosen to rank above the others. As a verb it is defined as to surpass or outdo.
In a thriller novel, as in all novels, there is an antagonist. The antagonist is often referred to as the villain. For a thriller to succeed the villain must be someone that the reader loves to hate. So much hatred is built up for the villain that the only way the reader will be satisfied is if this hated one suffers a horrible fate. Thus in the best thriller novels hate trumps love. Allow me to give some examples.
In 1667 a novel entitled “Paradise Lost” was published. The villain in this novel is of course Satan. According to biblical history, Satan, a beautiful angel, was thrown out of heaven and since then he has walked to and fro looking for those he can destroy. Satan is fully deserving of hatred. Hate trumps love.
In Steig Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” a man called Nils Bjurman is appointed guardian of Lisbeth Salander. Instead of caring for her needs, he rapes and sodomizes her, and refuses to give her the right to withdraw her own money unless she does what he demands. And what he demands is horrible. Lisbeth comes to hate him. When he gets what he deserves, readers are extremely happy. In Bjurman’s case, hate definitely trumped love.
In the novel “Phycho,” by Robert Bloch, Norman Bates is off his rocker. He spends time arguing with his mother, and he kills an unsuspecting woman who checks into his hotel. When the reader learns that Norman’s mother is dead and that he killed her, a sudden desire for vengeance is created. Norman hated his mother because she loved another man, and readers come to hate Norman because he is a psychotic killer. Hate trumps love.
In “A Moving Screen,” Michael has killed two women in June for the past three years. As the novel begins the reader witnesses his first kill. He gives no reason why he does what he does. And the way these women die is unmercifully horrific. The reader instantly hates Michael and turns page after page in anticipation of his making a mistake that leads to his capture. Once again, hate trumps love.
Best selling thriller novels are laden with suspense. Suspense is defined as a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happ
Best-selling thriller novels are laden with suspense. Suspense is defined as a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen. When a reader is uncertain about what will happen next he or she will keep reading to find out. Three of my favorites are
“The Firm” by John Grisham
“Chiefs” by Stuart Woods.
And “A Moving Screen.”
It can be purchased at the following:
Actually there is a best-selling thriller novel that has the title “Absolute Power.” Written by David Baldacci, this novel has all the power elements of a suspenseful thriller. First of all, it is a story of a fictional POTUS who is living life a tad indecently. And he has a bad habit of abusing women. Domestic abuse is a very real problem. It was very ingenious of the author to approach the topic in a way to shine the light on the idea that men who abuse women are usually men who crave power. And what is more powerful than being the president of the United States? “Absolute Power” is an example of a thriller novel with a powerful punch.
“A Moving Screen” is a thriller novel with a serial killer who has absolute power. No one knows who he is. No one knows when or where he will strike next. No one can identify his victims. Not even the police! He kills at will and at his pleasure. When it comes to committing the perfect murder, this killer has absolute power. “A Moving
Screen” is also a thriller novel with a powerful punch.
The best thriller novels approach real life issues in a creative way in order to shine light on serious issues while at the same time entertaining. This approach, when done well,
carries absolute power.
The best thriller novels are those novels with a central character that can get himself or herself out of any situation. Including death. After reading about such a character, readers usually never forget them. Characters like D’artagnon, James Bond, and Oliver Twist. These people sprung from the imagination of their respective authors. And yet those of us who’ve read about them consider them old friends. We long to know what happened to them after the last page of the novel is turned.
James Patterson’s character Alex Cross is an example. Alex is a psychologist and a former FBI agent who lives and works in Washington, D C. He is very intelligent and cool as a cucumber. He is a good father and chooses to live in a high risk neighborhood even though he can afford to live elsewhere. He volunteers at St. Anthony’s Parish as his way to get involved with the community. He has loved and lost several women due to various reasons. He appeared first in “Along Came a Spider.”
Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher is another example. Jack Reacher is a different sort of guy. He is a former military police officer of the United States Army. He travels around the country with no luggage. When he needs a change of clothes he buys them and discards the old ones. He finds himself in dangerous situations quite often, but he manages to come out of them on top. He appeared first in “The Killing Floor.”
Kris Allis’s character Anissa Brogdon is yet another example. Anissa endures three years of her life with an abusive husband who goes to the outer limits of hell to torment her. She manages to escape and still maintain her dignity and sanity. She also resolves to never go back to him and finds herself literally running for her life. She first appears in “A False Start.”
++++The best thriller novels have characters that are not easily forgotten and they are so likeable that readers want to read about their adventures again and again if possible. Hence the best thriller novel series.
The best thriller novels are fluent with anticipation. In the best thriller novels one or more of the characters are in peril.
The best thriller novels are PHAT! This acronym refers to the necessary elements of writing that make a thriller novel a success.
P Peril⎯In the best thriller novels one or more of the characters are in peril.Something is going to happen to them. Something bad, dangerous, life-changing,or fatal. It is this peril that creates suspense. It also holds the reader’s attention.
H Harrowing⎯Harrowing is defined as acutely distressing. Being in peril is definitely distressing. To write your best thriller novel, the characters should continuously find themselves in harrowing circumstances.
A Anticipatory⎯ The best thriller novels are fluent with anticipation. The reader turns the pages expecting anything. It is possible for anything to happen is the idea that the thriller novel keeps at the forefront.
T Tense⎯When a reader picks up one of the best thriller novels they immediately encounter a character in peril. Not only is the character in a bad situation, it is a harrowing experience. As the reader turns the page he or she anticipates danger at every corner. How can the reader not be tense? How can the characters not be tense? The best thriller novels keep the actions in the story at a level that inspires tension.
I repeat: the best thriller novels are PHAT.
In “A Moving Screen” the reader meets Michael on the first page. Michael is a budding
serial killer on his first kill. The story progresses, tension mounting, as Michael perfects his craft.
In 2010 a film called “Unstoppable” was released in theaters. This film was based on a real life incident of a runaway train that kept gaining speed and to all outward appearances could not be stopped. A Thriller novel should be written at the same pace as a runaway train. The story should keep moving, gaining speed until it finally reaches the end. The reader should be so involved that putting down the book becomes a challenge. Itﾒs all about pacing in a thriller novel.Pacing controls the speed at which a story is told. In well written thriller the reader should be grabbed from the beginning and pulled along at a rapid pace.The events unfold in a timely manner and not a lot of time elapses in the story.
In “A Moving Screen” the readers immediately find themselves inside a darkened room where a figure with no discerning features is pouring gasoline everywhere.And a woman lies naked on a table. Immediately the reader’s curiosity is aroused.
In Harlan Coban’s “Stay Close,” the first paragraph describes how a photographer,Ray Levine, sees blood. Continuing to read the reader gets to these sentences:
“That horrible moment. the moment when Ray’s life changed completely,transforming him from a man with a future and aspirations into this Grade-A-loser you see in front of you.never visited him in his dreams or when he sat alone in the dark.”
I wanted to know why he saw blood so I kept reading.
With an opening like that an author cannot afford to disappoint. It becomes his or her mission to deliver the rest of the story quickly so that curiosity can be satisfied. And how does an actor do this? With a few techniques such as the following:
ACTION. Action “shows” what happens in a story.
CLIFF HANGERS. When the outcome of a chapter is left hanging, the pace picks up because the reader will continue to turn the page to find out what happens next.
DIALOGUE. Witty, clipped dialogue with little or no need for explanation is swift and moves the story along.
SHORT CHAPTERS. Short chapters are easier to read and they end quickly.WORD CHOICE. Use words that subtly pick up the pace. Action verbs and strong nouns can say more in a few short sentences.
****Avoid complicated prose.
By definition a thriller has to be a thrilling story with mayhem and adversity. In this age of computer generated images, texting, and selfies, the average human being will not settle for less than good entertainment. Even the fairy tales that some of us grew up with have morphed into a television series called “Once Upon a Time.” In this series all sorts of characters are mixed together to create thrills and suspense. Rumpelstiltskin and Captain Hook are an unlikely pairing and did not go together in the basic fairy tale. But they work out in this TV series. Thus, a thriller novel can hardly get away with a happily ever after story. A thriller has to be a story that is rife with a series of unfortunate events like murder, kidnapping, abuse, theft, alcoholism, a terrifying storm, a monster, a ghost, a demented gargoyle and exorcisms⎯ all of these are wonderful misfortunes. To be counted among the best, a thriller novel must throw one of more of its characters into a
tailspin of mind-blowing catastrophe.
“The Exorcist” by WilliamPeter Blatty gained fame and notoriety because of its subject matter. This novel is the story of a young girl who becomes possessed by demonic forces that not only take her over completely, these forces control her whole house. The author writes of a strong odor that permeates the room⎯so powerful that one can smell it upon entering the house. The young girl’s room is upstairs! Doors slam on their own, beds are lifted off the floor and cold temperatures permeate every room. The demon causes the child to vomit green matter and to turn her head 360 degrees. This is thrilling. And so very frightening! After I finished reading this one I had to destroy the novel before I could sleep. And then to compound matters, a film was adapted to the novel. I had to see the movie because I did not believe they would be able to reproduce the horror in that thrilling novel. And they did it. And this was before the days of CGI. It goes without saying that demonic possession is misfortune at its worst, and to witness it on the big screen was quite stressful.
In “A False Start,” a hit-and-run driver kills a woman at the beginning of the story. This unfortunate event paves the way for another character to escape a life of constant mental and physical abuse. The accident by itself was earth shattering, but as the reader dives into the story, one unlucky break leads to another, and soon the main character is running for her life. The suspense is created at every move she makes. Her life’s pitfalls help to create the necessary ingredients for a thriller. Chaos reigns supreme!
For many years authors have woven tales in which characters are beset by some of the most unfathomable circumstances. In spite of obvious doom, These characters stand and meet whatever come their way. Sometimes they survive and end up in a better place and sometimes they do not. But that’s okay, because we as readers go along for the ride. We keep turning the pages until we reach the end. And we close the book with a degree of satisfaction. We’ve been taken on a thrilling adventure, and for a short time forget about our own lives as we experience the lives of the character in the story. We gain pleasure from the misfortune created for us by an author who sat down and put his best efforts forward to write a thriller. It was the duty of the writer to mold these unfortunate events into a story. And when this duty is done well the result is another bestselling thriller novel to add to the covetous list of best-sellers. Dear reader, do not despair, if it’s thrills you want, a plethora of reading is available by clicking a button in this age of e-books, downloading, and then settling back to read. Enjoy!
Not typed as opposed to handwritten. The best thriller novels fit into a type.
The types we see most often are as follows:
As the words suggest a spy thriller is about espionage. Espionage is the practice of spying or using spies, typically by governments to obtain political and military information. On the list of best spy thriller novels “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” is always at the top. This novel was written by John Le Carre. In this first thriller, Le Carre writes about a British agent in Cold War Berlin who keeps the double agents (Spies) under his care alive and unrercover. When they start being killed the agent, Alec Leamas, has to go into Communist territory to find out why.
This type of thriller is centered around solving a mystery in a fast-paced, suspenseful environment. In “A Moving Screen,” a serial killer has murdered women at will, twice a year on June 16 and June 24 for the past three years. The police have no clue to the identity of this killer or what his motives are. The reader is immediately thrown into the story on June 16, 2008. A fast-paced race ensues to stop the killer before he strikes again and goes undercover until the next year.
This type of thriller has a character who is mentally disturbed. On the list of best psychological thrillers is “Misery” by Stephen King. This is a story about a mentally disturbed former nurse who rescues her favorite author in a snow storm. She turns cruel when she realizes the heroine of most of her favorites, Misery Chastain, has just died in his latest novel.
SCIENCE FICTION THRILLER
This type of thriller focuses on the world of fantasy. On the list of best science fiction thrillers is “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. Dracula is a vampire.
Read the best thriller novels of 2016.Kris Allis has written a great thriller novels which is great for adults too.A best thriller novel is hard to put down.
Most writers will say they write a novel by asking themselves “What if…?” They see an incident and they wonder what would happen if something else occurs. The something else is, of course the ‘What if?” The story comes when the question is answered. Or in other words, the answer is the story. Naturally we all know that a ‘what if’ question in conversation can usually be answered in three sentences or less. But three sentences don’t make a novel. Novels have chapters. And page after page. And here is where the mandate comes into play.
All the best thriller novels heed the mandate.
The mandate states that the reader has to have a reason to keep reading.
In my first novel “A False Start,” I asked myself the question “What if someone survived 9/11 and didn’t tell their loves ones?” The next question was “Why would someone do that?” And my story was born. I not only had to answer why, I also had to answer who and how? Before I knew it I had a cast of characters telling this impossible story through their words and actions. They made it believable. I wrote so that my readers would continue to turn the page. I had to heed the mandate.
In her first novel “Where Are the Children?” Mary Higgins Clark answered the question “What if a mother lost her children twice?” She proceeded to create characters and circumstances to answer that impossible question. And boy did she have her work cut out! But she did it. And as a reader, I kept turning the pages. She heeded the mandate.
Authors of the best thriller novels treat the mandate like a commandment:
Thou shalt write a thriller in a manner that ensures the reader will keep reading.