Are suspense novels are your favorite type of fiction?
v Can you name every detective-type TV show on cable and network television
v Do you have a voice in your head actually narrating the story?
v Do your pets have names like Ellery, Hercule, Miss Marple, or Sherlock?
v Do you know the name of 3 poisons and/or medications that lead to death but leave no trace?
v Do you never fall for the red herring (and actually know what a red herring is!)?
v You know that M&M isn't a candy. It stands for Motive and Means.
v Have you ever thought to yourself, “I could do this better.”
v You’re in the mall or at a party and think, “This would be a cool place for a murder.”
v You pick up ordinary, every day objects and think, “This would be a cool murder weapon.”
v You see the people around you as suspects, killers or potential victims.
v You’d rather write a book killing off your boss, than go to jail for actually doing it.
v You’ve got an ongoing suspense plot in your head that you’re going to write “some day.”
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, then it’s probably time you came out of the closet, put fingers to computer keys and started writing your own suspense novel.
Suspense novels are one of the most enduring forms of genre fiction there is. They come disguised as romance, science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, block busters, thrillers, everything up to and including literary fiction.
Like many writers, I was a reader first and I became an avid reader of suspense novels when I discovered that The Moonspinners wasn’t just a Haley Mills movie.
Good suspense requires the author to master the basic elements of writing, like plotting, character, theme and exposition. You also have to be able to crank up the suspense to a fever pitch—and figure out how to bring your characters safely home. You also need good, solid research because today’s readers are not only savvy, they can turn to the internet and in two seconds confirm or refute your writing.
If you don’t believe me, just ask James Frey!
Yes, good suspense writing involves hard work, but, it can also be fun—though I do feel a bit guilty about admitting it. It’s very cathartic to put your characters through trials and tribulations. If someone annoys you, well, your villains will always need expendable characters to knock off. Even better, fictional killing doesn’t involve you in strip searches or prison time. And you get to ask cops, and other experts, things you couldn’t if you weren’t writing a book.
If you love the thrills and chills of a good suspense tale, don’t wait around for your favorite author to deliver the goods. Sit down and start writing and you may find yourself with fans, too.
© 2006-2013 Pauline Baird Jones.
Pauline Baird Jones is the author of ten, award-winning novels of suspense/action adventure, and she wrote the handbook Made-up Mayhem for the closet suspense writer, and those not in the closet.
You are welcome to recirculate this article to friends, discussion lists, newsletters, etc., as long as the ENTIRE text of the article, including author bio and copyright tag, is included and proper credit is given. Please email when and where article will appear.