writers tips

Writers Tip #70: Dump Your Spouse if They Complain About Your Writing

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

I just re-read James Frey’s outstanding How-to book for thriller writers, How to Write a D*** Good Thriller (St. Martins Press 2010).

lee childI learned more about writing in my genre from these 246 pages than I’ve learned since I began writing. Each genre is different. If you try to apply rules of, say, literary fiction, to your thriller, you’ll bore your audience, not to mention drive them away. Thrillers are fast paced, less introspective and more moral than other genres. Don’t mix that up with exploring global warming or the political correctness of current labor laws.

I wanted to share a truncated list of tips he has at the end of the book. These are reason enough to purchase this book.

  1. Commit yourself to creating strong conflicts in every line of every scene
  2. Decide you will have fresh, snappy dialogue and not a single line of conversation (read the book to see what that means)
  3. Decide to write quickly when drafting. Fast is golden (hard for me to do)
  4. If your significant other complains your thriller writing is taking up too much of your time, get a new significant other
  5. Trick the expectations of the reader and create nice surprises from time to time
  6. Have powerful story questions operating at all times
  7. End each scene or section of dramatic narrative with a bridge, a story question to carry the reader to the next one
  8. Try to be fresh. Don’t use the same old cliches. Be sure your prose is colorful and sensuous
  9. Keep the clock ticking and the excitement mounting right to the climactic moment

About #4–try to educate him/her first. It’s hard to find good mates.

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More for thriller writers:

11 Tips on Writing Thrillers

Writers Tip #61: Advice From Elmore Leonard

Book Review: Silent Joe

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is  editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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27 thoughts on “Writers Tip #70: Dump Your Spouse if They Complain About Your Writing

  1. If a writer wants a compact list of solid writing points, this one couldn’t be better. Wondering how many of your followers are out now, looking for a new significant other? That one is hilarious and would make a great writing prompt!


  2. Brilliant advice, as always. Glad I’m back from vacation and have wifi again so I can keep pace with your inspiring blog!! (And I’ll keep my husband. We celebrate 20 years together today and he likes my writing:)


  3. Loved these tips! (Especially #4, which I actually did. How validating.) I’m a literary fiction gal–but there’s still good advice here. One’s genre is no excuse to bore the reader.


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