One of my 2014 yearly goals was to attend a one craft level workshop and this past April I had opportunity to meet that goal. I spent one week on the Oregon coast (pictured right, gorgeous right?) learning how to write thrillers. The workshop was put on by Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch.
It was exhilarating. It was exhausting.
I walked away from the week with six, hard-earned novel proposals, although they tended to get a little loopy toward the end. We did one a night (see the exhausting comment). But the lectures were the highlight for me. We went over what makes a thriller a thriller vs. a good mystery or drama. It was illuminative and a lot clicked into place for me through it. I had been struggling with pacing and the idea that form follows content for the past year, but it finally clicked into place.
It also turns out that I think I naturally tend to write thrillers (when I don’t try to reign myself in), but I haven’t been writing them as thrillers. I guess we’ll see as I put into practice what I learned over that week.
Of the six novel proposals, I intend to write three of them in the immediate future. I’m already writing one. I wanted to practice some of the thriller techniques in short form before committing to a novel so I took one of the proposals that I didn’t think was quite long enough for a novel and outlined it.
I hoped the story would fit into a short story, but it quickly became apparent that no, it wouldn’t fit into that little space. So I accepted it would become a novelette. Erm … no. That story refuses to be contained. So now it’s a novella and may end up a short novel after all, but I think it’ll stay at a novella length.
I expect to wrap up the novella by the end of the month or in early June. After that it’s time to start on my first novel, which I’m targeting to be done in three months. I no longer have trepidation about it. Turns out: thrillers are fun to write.
I’m having a blast again.