I have finally figured out that TV science fiction, vampires, and other woo-stuff has shaped the modern thriller.

1. You don't have to wait very long for something to happen--it will, no matter how far-fetched
2. Nothing is as it seems.
3. Someone or several characters will not be who he or has been earlier in the story.
4. What the story started out about is not necessarily what it will finish up about.

It was pretty much the paradigm for "24," which was only this /\ much more believable than vampires. Maybe not even that much because just about everyone stayed awake for 24 hours.

Comments? Additions? Rebuttal? Other paradigms?

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I agree 100% Jack. I guess I am getting old, but I like stories that give a little background and ease into the drama. I want the pain a little at a time not all at once. For that reason ... I may never get a novel published, because I write starting off slow and gain speed as I go. I guess I should have been writing novels 40 years ago instead trying to live life.

No argument from me. Twists come quicker in a one hour show to keep you coming back after the commercial, and this has trickled over into a lot of fiction. I used to read a lot of thrillers, but now I tend to limit my thriller reading to the sub-genre "Thrillers with a chance in hell that any of this could happen."
It's weird. There's a prevalence of "reality" programming on TV and YouTube, and yet the taste in thriller fiction (written and filmed) has swung to the non-real. Pop-cultural compensation? Have the Housewives of New Jersey given birth to vampires?
This is an interesting point.

It also seems to me that most YA fiction is fantasy-based and as those readers get older they continue to look for fantasy in their fiction.
The high schoolers I teach mostly cart around the latest vampire/fantasy saga, it's true. I began with science fiction and fantasy as a child - still read some on rare occasions - but as I aged and began looking for more realistic fiction, I naturally found mystery/crime (and westerns, too, but we won't talk about realism much).
That is an increasingly-smaller sub-genre, I'd expect.
Points 1-4 also apply to mystery novels. Leaving out the far-fetched (I've only been guilty of that once), I think all of my novels do those things.
By Jove, I think she's got it!

I was set to disagree with you until I went back and read my "paradigm." The difference between the thriller and the mystery, though, is that what happens in the mystery is not always in your face; it is often subtle. Even some mysteries are far-fetched though.

The reason I believe tough-guy PIs are out is that in the course of a 1940s or 50s PI novel, the hero gets threatened several times by the bad guys. Today, if you cross most thugs--and they are thugs no matter how good their clothes--they won't warn you, they will just kill you or have you killed.

Thanks for pointing that out.

I had noticed a while back that the stories I was writing often turned out in the novella range, and after some thought, realized it felt the right length of story for a movie or tv show. I can easily see the connection here, with books coming out along the lines of what plots are on tv or in the movies.
Interesting. Another influence of television on writing.
Here's some more of TV's influence on writing:

LOL! Gotta love the Onion.


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