3 Must-Read Books On the Craft of Writing Mystery, Suspense & Thrillers

Although I'm not new to the publishing world, I am very much new to the suspense/thriller genre. Just after I finished writing The Seven Year Itch: A J.J. McCall Novel and started getting feedback from the Beta readers, I realized I might have some major revisions. While the readers said they "love, love, love" the story and couldn't wait for the next installment (and one of the Beta readers didn't know me), an agent had a less than pleasing reaction. He said that it was well written but it didn't have the same feel that other books of this ilk usually have. And so I really took some time to chew on his comments.

Fact of the matter is, I'd never written one. And understand that as someone who works in the law enforcement business, it is very difficult to read some thrillers, not because they aren't wonderful, entertaining books that shouldn't be on the NY Times Bestseller list, but because of the "eye-roll" factor. I can't tell you how many times it makes my eye-roll when people write FBI and CIA characters who operate so much differently from the people you've worked side by side with for almost 20 years. I can't control the "eye-roll" and it's hard to find books that don't make that happen. So, I can't say I'm a carnivorous consumer of the genre. But when I do find one that I like...I really like it. I just couldn't always figure out the why?

Why did the book draw me in? Why did I keep turning the pages? Why did I stay up until three am when I knew I had to get up at 5? Whyyyyy?

I'd written romantic comedies and romance novels that were page-turners but the stories were far less complex, involved fewer characters and they were written in first-person. If a reader empathizes and connects with the character, it's not hard to figure out why they want to find out what happened to them.

In this case, I couldn't write the book in first-person to get that connection so I had to figure out another way to make the story work. At first I was determined to "figure it out" on my own, doing several blind revisions based on the less than an ounce of knowledge I had about writing these kinds of novels.


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