Posted on: November 7th 2017 By: Catherine Nuza
What do people look for in a psychological thriller??
By: Catherine. S. Nuza
It may be obvious to some that suspense, twists and turns and most importantly a “good guy” and a “bad guy” are what makes a good psychological thriller.
I would agree that these are some of the elements but the list is in no way complete. So where do we start?
What is familiar is not always safe:
A great way of engaging your reader with a novel is by introducing elements that may be familiar or a comfort in some way. When people feel connected to something on a personal level it will draw them in. This works really well when taking place in a home, bedroom or school for example and then changing that place of comfort, into a place to be feared. It pulls at our raw need for safety and confuses the reader. These places are supposed to be safe and they suddenly discover that they should be scared of them.
Why are Killers always so perfect?
When people think of a killer there is a lot of dissociation going on. You would never kill anyone, so logically they must be different to you. This distinction is so vast that in your eyes the murderer is no longer as human as you are. This is incorrect as killers are just as human as anybody else but the reason why they kill is deeply routed in the psychology of their past. Every killer has a story and life just like any other person.
I have read countless books where the killer who is planning a murder is so cool and collected, it's very rare to see them make an error. Like anyone who is learning, mistakes will always happen. So in writing a psychological thriller allow the killer to not be so perfect, as no one is. It will portray them for what people are, flawed.
When trying to create a story that will leave the reader intrigued, enjoying the journey and wanting to know more, we can sometimes create too many twists and turns. The reader can lose interest and stop enjoying the story if they think the plot is too complicated or hard to follow as this can ruin the overall flow. In fact just one twist can be enough for readers to enjoy. This really depends on what kind of storyline you are writing and if twists are needed to make the reader as confused as the main character.
Reality or fantasy?
Regardless if your story is rooted more in fantasy or reality, the characters have to come across to the reader as someone they might know or knew once upon a time. That familiar element will help ignite feelings inside the reader such as shock, horror, disbelief or satisfaction when things happen to the characters in the story. A novel needs to create some sort of emotional reaction in the reader for them to relate to it better. When a person reads a romance novel they know what to expect, the same goes for reading a psychological thriller. They want to be left in suspense, kept on the edge of their seats, shocked and surprised; so give the reader what they want.
When writing a book it is very easy to describe things in the same way others have, but where is the uniqueness that readers often search for? Wherever and whenever you can, implement your own style and flare, after all it is your story. Be original and creative with your imagination.
Why a psychological thriller?
Genres like the classic thrillers have characters in the story that are portrayed as being in the moment because they physically respond to external threats. Whereas in the subgenre of psychological thrillers, the story mainly tries to manipulate characters or situations. It twists and plays with the characters emotional and mental state of being. The true element of a thriller can be shown by using suspense, fear, trauma or horror as well as many other factors under the same umbrella.
I personally love writing psychological thrillers as when playing with what the mind knows is real or thinks is real, it can open up an unlimited platform to create a different and new world for the reader to enjoy.
When writing a psychological thriller, unexpected people and events or surprises can give the story a more realistic feel; as life is never plain sailing. The depth of the story depends on how much detail you have added into it.
With every character I write about, I know their background story. Keeping this in mind you can add in nuggets of knowledge for the reader as they get to know the characters. This background will also help you know exactly how each one of the characters are going to react to each other throughout the story. Having well rounded characters helps to bring that realness into the story and gives them a certain presence.
Most importantly writing a novel should be enjoyable for the author and enjoyable for the reader. If you have written out a skeleton mock-up of your story but are unsure if it's a story someone would enjoy reading ask a friend to read it over. They can give you honest feedback and possibly help you correct any errors. Writing is limitless and creative so just have fun with it and allow it to flow.
I hope these points help you with any writing you wish to pursue.
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