Writing is much like any other craft. It’s not exactly hard to do though it is hard to do well. Writing a book isn’t necessarily hard it just takes time. String enough dedicated, persistence days spent on anything, a book or a painting or training for a marathon and you will reach your goal.
Last year, on a whim at the library, I picked up one of John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers books. I’d read a lot of Prey books but hadn’t read any from his other series. I’m glad I did. I loved them and quickly blew through five more in a race to catch up. They’re great.
But I also started to wonder what I else I might be missing out on.
Final tally, or close to it, I might squeeze in another book or two, for books read in 2018: 82. I read a lot of commercial thrillers this year, even for me, as I wanted to really try to dig in and look at the mechanics of the genre for my own writing.
This was also the year I took a break from podcasts and tried more audiobooks, mostly while I walked Dash. I ended up listening to 21 books on audio, which accounts for the jump in total books read. I’m usually around 60 or so, about a book a week on average.
A bit more of an eclectic mix than my normal diet of commercial thrillers from the past few months. I was particularly surprised by how much I enjoyed Silence of the Lambs despite being familiar with the movie. The book still holds up remarkably well (if you look past the very dated tech) and if you read in the genre at all, you can see that Harris’s work is still having an impact on books today.
As I’m getting back into my own writing, I’ve been reading or listening to a lot of thrillers and mysteries and trying to analyze the books by what I’m learning from The Story Grid. Why is it written this way? Why is it structured this way? Where is the turning point?
I know it’s a good book when I’m flipping pages and forgetting to ask those questions. That’s the type of book I’d like to write some day.
Psychological thrillers seem to be having their genre moment of late with seemingly every other book tagged with the “p-word” and all the authors cross-blurbing each other happily.
When done well, the shifting loyalties, paranoia and creeping sense of dread can make a plot sing with intensity. But it’s not easy. Done poorly, it can yank the reader out of the narrative and the plot can thud along unrealistically.