Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another thought on thrillers in general

I’ve mentioned before that there are plenty of thrillers being written these days that just don’t get the job done. I’ve been thinking about why, and while this certainly isn’t true in all cases, and there are some exceptions, it’s nevertheless a pretty reliable predictor. Here’s the deal: If you pick up a thriller and it weighs more than a microwave oven, it’s probably not going to deliver all that many thrills. Almost by definition, a thriller has to move fast. Fast means sharp, fast means it zips along, fast means that it grabs you and takes you with it and you never get a chance to catch your breath. Now, in general, I have nothing against long books—in fact, Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors, and nobody ever accused him of underwriting—but length seems to be the opposite of what you need if you’re looking for excitement. Length is for luxuriating and getting lost in a story, while brevity is the soul of excitement. You know how blurb writers often say that a certain thriller is like a roller coaster ride? That should be an apt metaphor, but in my experience, a roller coaster ride lasts about two minutes. A roller coaster ride that lasts, say, a couple of hours? It’s just wrong.

I wonder if I’m alone in thinking this.



Linda said...

Hi Jim,

I totally agree with your comments about length, but it isn't always in the number of pages. Sometimes the writing is too technical or too detailed, and that bogs me down, even if the book isn't that long.

btw, I just finished reading a great page-turner/thriller that I think is fast-paced (and only about 350 pages in paperback) -- Prophecy by Paul Mark Tag. There are some technical details, but they are easy to understand IMHO. Hope you find it as good as I did.


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