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Thriller Fiction Genre

Select the face of a thriller fiction author that you find interesting and discover more.

With the contemporary suspense, you have to be very tightly focused, you can’t go off on fun tangents.

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I try to explore the boundary between morality and wrongdoing. When is it justified to go outside the law to right a wrong?

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It's all fiction, folks. I know very little about spies, electronic surveillance, satellite phones, smartphones, bugs, wires, mikes, and the people who use them.

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I can't write my characters unless I know what they look like.

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Writers are always critical of themselves and I'm no exception.

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Writing an informative yet compact thriller is a lot like making maple sugar candy.

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I find it better to know who the killer is and why they did the killing then work your way back plotting it all out.

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Coming up with an underlying concept for a book is the hardest part of the process for me.

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I enjoy writing more than lawyering because I no longer keep time sheets and get to work in my underwear.

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The first book that really impressed me? I'd have to say a Nancy Drew book. I read them all several times.

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I’ve had some of my best writing epiphanies when I’m doing things that have nothing to do with writing.

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I believe that my books have quality. That’s why I submitted them for publication.

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Writing is so much damned fun. I play God. I feel like a kid at Christmas. I make people do what I want, and I change things as I go along.

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I can say, 'I’m a writer!' because it makes me people think I’m much more interesting than I am.

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I’m definitely a plotter, especially to get the psychological elements right.

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I think I must be hardwired to tell stories, because I’ve always wanted to write.

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Thriller Fiction genre definition

The Thriller fiction genre, sometimes called suspense fiction, is a genre of literature that typically entails fast-paced plots, numerous action scenes, and limited character development.

Part of the allure of thrillers comes from not only what their stories are about, but also how they are told. Thrillers usually involve the following storytelling elements:

  • High stakes
  • Non-stop action
  • Plot twists - that both surprise and excite
  • settings that are both vibrant and exotic
  • An intense pace that never lets up until the adrenalin packed climax

History of the thriller genre

Regarded as an early prototype of the thriller, Homer's Odyssey is one of the oldest stories in the Western world. The Greek poet Homer wrote the epic poem 'The Odyssey' in the eighth century BC. In it, the Greek hero Odysseus encounters several difficulties along his road back home. These included being imprisoned by the cyclops Polyphemus and fighting a number of demons and gods.

To be more accurate about it though, it's probably more likely that popular myths or beliefs - and even ancient mythology are the real foundations for the thriller fiction genre.

Defining a thriller

There's no narrow definition. According to International Thriller Writers, a thriller is characterized by "the sudden rush of emotions, the excitement, sense of suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace." In short, a thriller thrills. How? Mostly through skillful plotting.

Thriller villains

The plot of a thriller is usually driven by the villain, who presents obstacles that the hero must overcome.

As a genre of fiction in which tough, resourceful, but essentially ordinary heroes are pitted against villains determined to destroy them, their country, or the stability of the free world.

What makes readers love it?

Thriller fiction is hot!

How is it different though from straight mystery or suspense?

Well, today, thriller novels provide a rich literary feast embracing a wide variety of worlds - the law, espionage, action-adventure, casino underworld, medicine, police and crime, romance, history, politics, high-tech, and religion. Thrillers are usually about life and death situations. When skillfully written, thrillers can also carry the load of bigger themes than strict realism will allow. Other examples of this genre in literature include The Da Vinci Code, The Hunt for Red October, The Day of the Jackal, and Jurassic Park.

Example of the genre

One example is: the hero, who may even be an ordinary citizen drawn into danger and intrigue by circumstances beyond their control faces danger alone or in the company of a small band of companions. The protagonist may be a law enforcement agent, a journalist, or a soldier, but typically he or she is cut off from the resources of "their" organization.

Comparing thrillers to other genres

Not all thrillers are suspense novels; but many suspense novels are thrillers. The average thriller is longer than the average mystery - which makes a brisk pace crucial to success.

Recent thriller sub genres

In more recent times, two modern examples of subgenres that have been added to the thriller genre are techno-thrillers and espionage thrillers.

The future for thrillers

It's likely that thrillers will just keep on developing in the future - possibly even altering to reflect shifting reader likes and societal issues. They may well also explore more cutting-edge advances in computing technology like VR (virtual reality) or AI (artificial intelligence). A readers' consumption of thriller novels could even be influenced by viewing one of the many streaming services available today.