You know, writing a thriller ain’t easy.
Well, let’s be honest. Writing isn’t easy. But that’s not even right. The basic idea of taking words and placing them in a coherent order to create a complete thought is—unlike this sentence—rather easy.
But take those individual, simple thoughts and combine them in order to create a larger, more complete and complex concept? That takes a bit more skill. Most have it. A very few don’t. Really, even then, it isn’t that hard. Only when we start pushing quality and vitality in those very same sentences do things get hard.
For me, this task has always been easy. Maybe I was too good of a liar as a kid. Maybe I read too many books. Don’t know. Don’t really care. Perhaps it’s one of the few skills that I have. Whatever the reason, I’ve always been able to craft stories and enjoy the process.
That’s not what I find hard. I can pull ideas from thin air and weave them together to create something that you never want to end. The few basic writing rules that I follow are allow me to form sentences that are usually entertaining and welcoming. And for those that don’t work, a round of editing solves that problem. Construction and format, storytelling and whatever else you want to throw out for consideration, it’s relatively easy and—better yet—fun.
No, my issue comes from characterization. Not that I struggle making characters to play God with. Rather it’s more often than not solved by walking through the supermarket and making up stories for the people K and I run across. But rather, I fear that I fall into certain stereotypes.
Let me explain.
First off, I’m always afraid of two things:
- That all my characters will be bland and interchangeable like I’m writing for some sort of whitewashed television show. There’s nothing worse in my mind.
- My characters won’t be real. That they won’t make reasonable choices in whatever circumstances fate has placed upon them. They have to feel real and that you could meet whomever at the drug store.
I don’t want that. In fact, when I’ve run across it in my writing, I usually scrap the whole thing and sit in a corner to pout for a good few hours. To me, its the worst hack-job I can find in my writing. I loathe it.
How does that apply to thrillers? Because thrillers usually follow a certain format. Just like any style of novel, they have their predictable aspects. Or maybe they do only in my head. Doesn’t really matter because for me, it’s all one and the same.
For me, those aspects tend to lead more toward characterization than any plot ideas. Or at least, so far that is the case. To me, thrillers and suspense novels mean that our ordinary world has been thrown away or shifted on its head or whatever in order to make the protagonist uncomfortable. Frankly, this is the case with any story only more so in that particular genre.
I’ve always had an interest in sociopaths and geniuses. Maybe its because they are quite often outcasts, something I can associate with. Perhaps it comes from their ability to see the world outside society’s conventions. Both do, with varying ideas of what is correct and what is not. Who knows? It could be something else that I have no clue about. But no matter what way you look at it, I like writing them.
That’s not a problem. If you, dear reader, haven’t noticed, I enjoy making the oddball connection or writing with unusual vocabulary. The sentence structure isn’t always the simplest to understand. Other things. Short concepts used as complete ideas meant to evoke emotions in the reader.
All that works great too. If you’re writing as a genius or for a psychopath. Those connections and word choices are second nature to them. The average person things a bit differently. And that’s where my struggles come in. We rarely see the world through their eyes. When we do, it’s like seeing through a haze we’re meant to understand but find melting ice cream more entertaining.
Think about it this way.
In Die Hard, tell me who’s smarter; John McClane or Hans Gruber? It’s not McClane, despite his catch phrase and multiple movie deal. What about Harry Potter or Voldemort? Just to remind you, Harry failed a good portion of his O.W.L.S. Sherlock Holmes or Watson?
I think we know the answer.
But we see through the eyes of these characters, not because they are the vanilla to evil’s chocolate, but because they are relatable to the reader. If they weren’t, those stories would have fallen flat. Nobody wants that.
Not to mention, everyone loves an underdog story.
Yet, I have writing that way. My word usage goes off the charts with vocabulary and multiple syllable words that require a dictionary to become your best friend. It comes naturally to me. Over the past decades, I’ve embraced it. Hell, I even spent a class of my undergraduate studies arguing that we shouldn’t simplify our writing.
But that doesn’t work, not if you are trying to write a story that people will enjoy and recommend to their friends. It was a hard truth, and one that I still struggle with each and every day.
Thank God for proofreaders and those
suckers faithful friends who will read my work when it is as raw as uncooked steak. Without them, I’d be lost. I’m struggling with it now, in the thriller that I’m neck deep in.
Perhaps that’s the biggest reason I write my stories with psychopaths and geniuses, outcasts and those shunned by society. By using them, I can express my ideas in their purest form and let my own word preferences show their forms. And as long as you get different stories, they won’t disappear anytime soon.
If you find my blog interesting, please check out my debut novel, The Red Dress!
The Red Dress is a contemporary mystery awash in colorful characters, witty banter, and—let us not forget—murder. That’s what happens when love and politics mix. But not all is doom and gloom. There’s also knitting, romance novels, and a smattering of cooking. If you’re a fan of the genre or in the mood to try something new, give it a shot. I’m sure that you’ll love it.