11 April 2021

[Writing a ThrillerWriting a Thriller by Andre Jute
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the things that I am still a bit confused about is literary genres, and people seem to have so many different names for them that it gets very confusing. Some are used by publishers to say what kinds of books they do or don't publish, and those are reasonably clear -- crime, romance, children's etc. So when I found a couple of books on writing thrillers in the local library,I read them to try to answer the question "What is a thriller?"

The first one I read, Writing the Thriller (my review here), was also because I was doing a final edit on my children's book, The Enchanted Grove. My book is an adventure story, rather than a thriller, but where does one draw the line? And even adventure stories have thrilling scenes in them, where the characters are in danger, don't they?

Writing a Thriller by Andre Jute at least answered that question for me. The adventure story has the characters in danger from external enemies. In the thriller the situation is complicated by betrayal from within. The thriller is therefore more complex.

The only problem with that definition is that many books advertised as thrillers might not actually be thrillers.

I found this book more useful for clarifying that and similar questions that I had. But it is also an older book, and may not be so useful to would-be thriller writers in the information it gives on the publishing process and manuscript submission. Clearly, it was written when word processors were in their infancy, and assumed that most people would be typing their story directly onto paper, and editing the paper typescript, and cutting and pasting literally with scissors and paste, and not in the sense of the Microsoft Windows metaphor.

The book also cites some of the thrillers that the author himself has written as examples, Reverse Negative and Sinkhole, but I notice that neither has a single review or rating on GoodReads. And, on a personal note, the author seems to have a strong prejudice against missionaries, and as a missiologist, I have a particular interest in missionaries, but that is just a personal prejudice and shouldn't affect one's evaluation of the book.

If you're thinking of writing a thriller, it could be a useful book to read, bearing in mind that it deals with dated technology. But the actual writing advice is generally useful.

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