In a Thriller mindlessness is invaluable. A mindless character will do anything without thought or consideration for others. Even if the character has to feign insanity, he or she will carry out a designed program. Take the film “Shutter Island” as an example.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the movie as the main character, Teddy Daniels, who is a widower and U S Marshal. Also starring are Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Max von Sydow. Teddy is with his new partner Chuck Aule (Ruffalo) on a ferry boat to Shutter Island when the story begins. They are going to Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of a patient. The suspense begins when Teddy discovers that there is no way the patient could have escaped a locked cell under constant supervision. We learn the patient is there because she killed her children. As the story continues we soon discover that everything is not as it seems. Insanity is running rampant and the climax is a twist on mindlessness. We are left at the end wondering just who is crazy. This film was adapted from the novel of the same name written by Dennis Lehane.
In the novel, “Shutter Island” the author used a mindless character in a terrible situation to illustrate how such a character can create the suspense to keep a reader turning the page in a thriller. The reader continues to read, not knowing what to suspect and in the end he or she is left to create their own ending. In other words, the reader has to use his or her own astuteness to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. I loved this story! It has everything needed to make it a best thriller novel. And an interestingly suspenseful thriller movie.
In “A Moving Screen” the mindless character is Michael. Michael is a serial killer who seems completely rational. As the reader turns the pages, he or she discovers that Michael has put a lot of thought into what he does. He is a killer with a purpose and a plan. It’s just that the reader doesn’t know the plan until the end of the novel, when astuteness is once again called for. “A Moving Screen” has everything needed to rank it among the best thriller novels. In the best thriller movies mindlessness trumps astuteness in a character.
The dictionary defines a bully as a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. Synonyms for a bully are a tyrant or an oppressor. Because of his very nature, a bully is an unwelcome person in any venue. His or her very presence spoils the fun. A bully requires that attention be paid to his or her every move in order to ward off all advances. Protective forces need to be in play when a bully is in the room. In short, most people despise bullies.
However, in the best thriller novels a bully needs to be present in order for the hero of the story to shine through. In John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” the bully is Curley, a man so mean and despicable that he didn’t rate a first and last name. Just Curley. This is a diminutive man who suffers from the “little man syndrome.” As a result, in his position as son of the boss, he feels that he can bully the employees. He especially enjoys bullying Lennie, a mentally challenged worker. Had Curley, the bully, been left out of “Of Mice and Men,” the novel would have lost its intensity. A bully’s actions trumped kindness in creating the suspense in this novel.
In “A Moving Screen,” Michael, the serial killer is a bully. He uses strength and power to subdue his victims so that he can kill them in an unimaginably horrible fashion. He roams cities in the metropolitan Atlanta area for different jurisdictions to dispose of his victims, in order to keep police in the dark. Dennis Cane is a detective who is a bully when it comes to tracking and convicting murderers. Without Dennis Michael would continue to escape justice. He makes it impossible for anyone to stop him. The reader instinctively hopes that Dennis will. Michael is the spark of suspense and thrill needed to make “A Moving Screen” fit the category of a best thriller novel. The fact that the lead detective is a bully on crime makes life difficult for the serial killer in this novel. Bullying trumps complacency!
Deception is the art of trickery. The skill of pretense. Slyness. Deviousness. None of these words are positive. Deception is the most grievous to the person or persons who are its object. As human beings we rely on the truth, until we read a work of fiction. In the most popular book in print it is written: The truth shall make you free. And yet, when we read a good novel, it is deception that will keep us turning the pages. The power of deception is that when it’s done correctly, no one sees it coming until it’s too late. And we like that as readers. A fiction novel is based on imagination, we understand. But a fiction novel that is based on truth could be boring. We need that character who goes one way when we expect him or her to go another. And the character who deceives himself is always a winner.
The novel “Gone Girl” is a master work of deception. The reader begins the novel and is led to believe one thing. As the story continues, everything believed at first is suddenly challenged. To top it off the reader learns that the main character is a clever master of deceit. This leads to the conclusion that such a character can never and should never be trusted. Ironically, it’s impossible to put the book down. With so much deception and only a tad of truth, “Gone Girl” was so popular that it was made into a film by the same name. This story should make every person think twice about infidelity.
The novel “A Moving Screen” is also a master work of deception. The reader turns the page trying to figure out who exactly is Michael. He is hiding in plain sight and getting away with one murder after the other. Rarely do we meet a murderer in a novel and still not know him or her when we encounter them in other parts of the story. So it is with Michael. The deception is a vital part of the story. But that’s what makes a good thriller a best thriller. The effective use of deception. Truth means nothing to a reader who is turning page after page to reach a climax in the story. Readers cheer when they are deceived.
Deception trumps truth in all the best thriller novels.
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.
best selling thriller novels have ingredients that make a satisfying and thrilling novel and great movies.
Three of my favorite movies were based on novels. I don’t know what qualities a movie producer and screenplay writer look for in order to bring a novel to life on the big screen, but I can imagine that a lot depends upon the level of suspense of the story and the characters who are tasked with revealing the plot. Memorable characters. Take the novel “Marathon Man.” The main character seems to be quiet, reserved, intelligent, and an introvert. Until he is captured and forced to tell the whereabouts of something that he has no idea exists, much less he knowledge of this thing’s location. Enter the villain, an elderly dentist with no remorse. Naturally torture is the only method he knows to extract information.From the beginning the reader is thrown into the horrible experience⎯unable to stop reading until a glimmer of hope is revealed. “Marathon Man” was a best selling thriller.
Consider the novels about Jason Bourne. Another unforgettable character with unbelievable skills. Skills that he needs for every twist and turn of the nightmare he finds himself in. In “The Bourne Identity,” a man is rescued from the ocean by a ship. He has a bullet wound and no memory of who he is. We later learn through inspiring intrigue that the man is Jason Bourne. “The Bourne Identity” was also a best-selling thriller.
Of course “Carrie” was Stephen King’s first novel. The story of a young girl who was bullied and mistreated in high school. She didn’t choose suicide like so many young people of today. She chose revenge. By simply being herself and using telekinetic powers to show the bullies that they needed to be nice. “Carrie” became a best-selling thriller.
Both plot and main character differ in all of these best-selling thriller novels, but all of them were suspense-filled, intriguing stories rife with excitement and danger⎯delightfully menacing. All the ingredients that make a satisfying and thrilling novel. And great movies!