Notes From ThrillerFest 2016: Part 1

The following are some of the notes I took at ThrillerFest 2016, the annual worldwide conference of writes of novels in th thriller genre. Yes, there are multitudes of sub-genres within the thriller category, but these points apply to any and all of them.

General Tips:

·      The facts support the story, not the other way around—don’t bore the shit out of your readers

·      Write something everyday—it’s a profession, not a hobby

·      Don’t sermonize—lecturing about the social message kills the thriller aspect

·      Keep your research in case you’re ever challenged or sued

·      Your writing has to reflect the writer’s confidence

·      Establish a setting

·      Set the tone

·      Don’t settle for your preliminary concepts; dig deeper

·      Moral dilemma is key to thriller novels

·      Create conflict: churn related conflict and resolution, followed by more conflict.

·      Conflict is rooted in differing motivations

        o   Fear often is the primary motivator

·      Emotion is more important than logic

·      The Dramatic Question: What does the hero/villain want? (in 1 sentence)

·      There has to be “high stakes” for a nation, a group, or an individual

·      There has to be a “Riveting Concept” that’s focusing and larger than life

·      Subplots prop up the middle of your story

·      Read your book out loud to find the stumbling blocks for readers

·      Print the book out and read it as if it was someone else’s book

·      Because of peoples’ short attention spans today, you have to tighten up you novel

        o   Cut-Edit-Condense again and again

·      Find your voice

·      ENDING: have an ending that seems inevitable, but to be effective there has to be a change caused by the main character. BUT it has to be clever enough to please the reader

·      CLIMAX: Here’s where the twists come into play, but don’t be predictable

·      PROLOGUE/EPILOGUE: only use a prologue if absolutely necessary. The Epilogue tells the reader what happened to the characters—OR in my Sleeping Dogs series, it sets up the next book in the series.

·      We’re not here to write the Great American Novel, we write to entertain—remember, it’s fiction.

·      Don’t be discouraged by naysayers and doubters

·      Don’t let being around big name, bestselling writers cause you to change what and how you write

        o   They weren’t always big shots, they used talent, hard work, and luck  

In the next post, I’ll share pointers on developing your characters.

© John Wayne Falbey 2017 All Rights Reserved