When I begin a new writing project, I make a mental list of aspects of the genre that I like and those that I don’t like. The beginning steps of writing Absolute Liability were no different. I wanted to make sure I included what I liked and avoided what I did not like because, believe it or not, sometimes our pet peeves end up gracing our own pages!
So here is the list I came up with for the Southern Fraud Series.
- Strong characters who are working to overcome something. I’m drawn to mysteries and thrillers because of their basic portrayal of the struggle between good and evil. I want to see people overcome.
- Humor. I’m not talking over-the-top slapstick comedy, but I do like quirky characters, witty banter, and the occasional funny moment.
- Romance. Again, I’m not talking over-the-top romance of the “he took her as only a man can take a woman” variety, but I do like to see relationships develop between characters.
- Action. I want to see characters behave competently. If gun play is involved, I want it to be somewhat realistic. No people exploding into red mist or flying backward out windows because they were shot with a .22.
- Suspense. I want to like my characters so much that when I put them in danger, I feel their fear too.
- Uber-criminals. I’m talking about criminals that are almost inhuman in their ability to deceive and murder. I like a good nemesis, but there are other character types out there.
- The explanation. The big reveal at the end of a mystery and the main character’s explanation of the crime have become staples of the genre, but here’s what’s always bothered me. If the writer has to explain the whole plot of the novel, then did she really do a good job of showing the crime and investigation? Maybe some details need to be clarified, but if the crime has to be explained from start to finish in order to make it comprehensible, it seems a waste.
- Gore. I don’t mind a realistic description, but I can do without the gratuitous blood and guts.
- The Interminable Series. The best thing Lost ever did was announce the number of seasons it intended to run. If writers don’t have a set plan for the overall story arc of their series, it can begin to seem as if nothing that matters is ever going to happen. It gives the impression that the writer is just stringing along the viewer or reader. Not a fan.
So what do you like and dislike in thrillers and mysteries? Do they match mine?