It’s time for another Open Tuesday while our blogmate, Kathryn Lilley, is on medical hiatus. Bring us your questions, comments and discussions. If you have a question about writing, publishing or any other related topic, ask away in our comments section. We’ll do our best to get you an answer.
And don’t forget you can download a copy of FRESH KILLS, Tales from the Kill Zone to your Kindle or PC today.
What’s the difference between “thriller” and “suspense” and “crime” and “mystery” novels? Is there a line, or is it just a matter of what a publisher calls it?
Anon 9:25, there’s definitely a difference between thriller and mystery. I like to think of a thriller as a mystery in reverse. In a typical mystery, the story usually starts with a murder or crime and the rest of the book is dedicated to solving the murder. A thriller is just the opposite and usually starts with a “threat” of a crime or devastating event, and the rest of the book is the race to stop the event. Another way to look at it is that a mystery is a “who-done-it” while a thriller is a “how-done-it”.
Remember that the basic requirement of a thriller is to thrill.
Crime is usually a subset of mystery, and both mysteries and thrillers should come with a heavy dose of suspense. When writers submit a book to an agent or publisher, the distinction should be clear in their heads. If writers don’t know in which category their book falls, it will make for an even tougher job to sell it to the publisher. I hope this helps.
Anon, I’ll take a stab. I think “crime” and “mystery” have the most definite parameters. A crime novel is usually a contemporary setting where the role and actions of the criminal(s) are specifically rendered. It’s usually not a mystery, because you know who the criminals are (although a “police procedural” could be a crime novel with a mystery involved). Mysteries always involve the “who done it” aspect. Part of the draw is trying to figure it out along with a “sleuth” (either professional or amateur).
A “thriller” usually involves lots of high points and intense periods of action. “Suspense” is tension drawn out. But the lines are not hard and fast. There can be cross over. A good crime novel has suspense; a thriller may have a mystery underneath it. But if one “feel” dominates, that’s usually where the publisher tries to position it.
Here at TKZ, we have all these aspects represented.
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How do you all handle revisions? Do you go through your manuscript correcting for one thing, like story continuity, then grammar? Or do you do a single pass, checking for everything?
The group blog I belong to is struggling with the whole stats thing and attracting an audience. We’re not doing badly at all, but we’re in flux.
A number of us are recently published, contracted or very close to getting a contract. I’d say and my blogging buddies agree that we’re not focused enough.
We’re trying to attract perspective readers and not focus entirely on writer issues. Most of us also have a personal blog and I’m in the process of rethinking my personal blog which is now static.
I recently read Michael Hyatt’s blog and he felt he’d plateaued and was good at starting and not maintaining.
Advice? Thoughts? It’s hard for me as a newly contracted author to juggle all these things. How do you all manage?
I once heard the mystery-versus-thriller question described as follows: A mystery follows a detective who is trying to determine who who killed someone. A thriller follows someone who is trying to keep people from being killed.
Stewart, back in April of 2009 I wrote a post here at TKZ covering the many types of editing called Slice and Dice your work. Check it out at http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2009/04/slice-and-dice-your-work.html Hope it helps.
Jillian, all of us at TKZ manage our time differently. Some have day jobs while others (like me) are retired and can devote a lot more time to writing and blogging. It’s all time management and individual techniques. A week or so ago, I posted on this topic. http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2010/06/i-aint-got-time-to-bleed.html Hope it helps.
TTL, that a great definition of both.
Stewart, for me it’s a continuous process. I ocntinually reread and rewrite what I’ve written. When I get to a place in a story where I realize I made a mistake early on (and it always happens–right now I’m *this* close to going back and eliminating a character who turns out not to have enough to do), I go back and make the change right away. It’s important to me that every story be built on a solid foundation.
Stewart, be on the lookout for my blog post this Sunday (in addition to Joe’s excellent post that he referenced).
Jillian, I don’t think I could do a personal blog. Unless you treat it as almost a part time job, it’s difficult to maintain and get enough of a “return” (i.e., new readers) to justify it. A weekly here at TKZ is perfect for me. It’s all a matter of ROI (return on investment). One can invest too much time for not enough return, said time being a drain on what you should be concentrating on: your fiction.
Librarian: I like that. Another idea: A mystery is like a maze; suspense is like a tightening coil; thriller like a roller coaster.
Joe and Jim,
That helps. Joe, I went back and copied that blog post and the comments and am going to study it.
Jim, I think you’re right and I don’t think I can handle both either, especially with the day job that will be kicking back in on the 19th. The fiction is the most important thing to focus on at this time. We just have to figure out the blog details for the group and I think that will fall into place soon.
I agree with Joe’s & the Thriller Librarian’s definitions- that being said, I feel like a lot of books get pitched as thrillers these days that most decidedly are not.
Stewart, I tend to go through the whole thing and correct it all. Then on the next pass, I make a timeline and make sure I don’t have everything happening at dawn (one of my weaknesses) and that the characters can be where they’re supposed to be without having to bend the laws of time and space.
Then I go through it again. And again. I usually make between 15-20 passes through each manuscript (but then, I’m a bit of a Type-A perfectionist).
I’m opposed to personal blogs, too- a group blog can work great, but a lot lies in making sure every blogger is commenting regularly, that every blog entry is appropriately tagged…and it takes time. Also try inviting guest bloggers, sometimes that can jump start things.
Or you could use our failsafe: more chicken humor. Never fails.
When is John Gilstrap’s new novel, Hostage Zero, going to be available?
Oh, wait, it must be now, because I’m holding it my hands (or was, until I typed this).
Congrats to brother John. Cool, knock out cover and all.
Plea for sanity….
I started posting this on Joe’s Time to Bleed post from last week, then realized maybe it didn’t fit there.
When I started writing seriously in 2006 I had a job with a lot of down time (IT guy for a relatively small office). I also had a seemingly endless stream of non-stop energy and focus. In three years I put out 3 novels, 10 shorts, and recorded, edited, produced, and podcasted all of the above in audio format to relative acclaim and awards and blah dee blah.
Started working on the 4th novel last year about this time. But 2 things have happened:
1. while the story rolls in my head my schedule got crazy, someone put kryptonite in my koolaid and my super powers have dwindled. I’ve been unable to complete the current WIP yet.
2. during the last 3 years two different agents took off with a bang then only a year or so in to each relationship left me hanging (one said she quit doing fiction & wished me well, the other said my books were “out of her league”, and I “need to find a bigger agency”). Whether or not I believe their reasons, I’m left to start over.
3. One of my muses has apparently been offended by something I said or something her rival did and is not helping at all. She’s not gone, just glaring at me … and it’s kind of freaking me out. (maybe that’s why polygamy is illegal in real life)
In short, frustration abounds, creativity is being sapped, and I am looking for a way to stop banging my head into walls trying to write / publish my stuff.
That being said…have you TKZ’rs run in to the same, did you get out of it and what would you recommend to overcome such hurdles.
I feel like a Brazilian soccer player who joined the team just before World Cup then suddenly they lose to a bunch of blokes in wooden shoes
Hmmm… I said 2 things happened…but that was 3 things.
…see not only are my super powers below normal, I can’t even do pre-school math
Thanks, Jim. Here’s hoping you love it and tell all your friends. Actually, I hope you tell all your friends you love it even if you don’t. Is that shallow?