Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

When writing a scene I also work to bring the tension up.  Falling off a curb and spraining an ankle?  How about falling off a cliff and breaking your back? You get the idea.  But I’ve also found that I have to use some judgement about how far I take things or they begin to shift from suspense to comedy.  A case in point is a scene from Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol I watched over the weekend.  If you’ve never seen the movie and plan on catching it one of these days, stop reading NOW.

As the story unfolds we find our gallant IMF team in a Dubai hotel.  They need to get to the servers in order to gain control of the building security systems, but the security is so “military grade” they cannot quickly hack it.  What to do?  The only path is to climb outside of their hotel to the server room several floors above them.  Where is this room?  On floor 130.  So they cut out the glass, but how to scale a glass building?  With electronic sticky gloves, of course.  So Tom goes out at least 1000 feet above an unforgiving desert floor to scale the wall.  But wait. There’s an approaching dust storm.  Better hurry.  But wait. The gloves begin to malfunction.  He muscles it along, breaking through a window and getting the job done.  Now he has to get back, but the gloves have gone completely kaput, so he grabs some nylon strapping, racing down the outside of the building. But wait. The strapping isn’t sufficiently long to get him to his room.  So with the dust storm coming, he does a little swinging then flies toward the opening where his colleague hope to catch him.  But wait.  He slams into the wall below the window which should lead to certain death. But wait. One of his colleagues grabs him by the ankle and the team pulls him to safety.

I like the forward momentum of this scene, but I have to say, about halfway through, I felt like I had landed in the middle of Ginsu Knife commercial.  “But wait! There’s more!”  And each time the suspense artificially cranked up, the scene lost some of the power it could have retained by staying with its key elements.  Climbing outside a glass tower over 1000 feet in the air has all the makings of a terrifying activity.  Why not explore that terror more fully, the distance to the ground, the wind knocking him around, his struggle to gain a foothold.  Instead, by adding more elements, we lost the moment.

My take aways from the scene?

  1. Be sure I’ve taken full advantage of a scenes key elements before I start adding more complications
  2. Don’t get carried away with the complications, unless I’m shooting for comedy, rather than suspense.
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As I may have mentioned, I’ve got a novel coming out in August published by Champagne Books.  TOXIC RELATIONSHIP is a thriller with a humorous twist set in the Hill Country of Texas.  My protagonist, Nick Sibelius, moves to the small Texas town of Pflugerville, turned Austin suburb, to set up a private investigation business, find some peace and maybe, himself, after a murdered partner, a cheating wife and a lost job in Houston.  When a young couple disappears and a bass fisherman turns up dead, he finds himself drawn into a web of toxic relationships: MaryLou, a beautiful woman with a mysterious past, Junior, a failed farmer whose best intentions seem to always result in a dead body, and Barry, a sociopathic dentist turned illegal toxic waste and methamphetamine entrepreneur with visions of grandeur.  When the felon who killed his partner in Houston joins forces with Barry, Nick must not only stop the toxic waste dumping while finding his client’s missing daughter, but keep from being killed in the process. In the end, MaryLou’s dark secret will either help him or kill him — whichever comes first.

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I’ll be posting occassional stories about writing this novel, pics, backstory, character descriptions as the publishing date draws near.  My hope is that the novel is as fun to read as it was to write.

Just received the cover for my thriller, TOXIC RELATIONSHIP which will be released August, 2012 by Champagne Books.  I gave the marketing team some very sketchy info, unsure myself what the cover should look like.  I believe I said something like arid, toxic waste and airstream trailers.  You see, I’m one of those people who has a very difficult time figuring out what color to paint a room. I eventually pick something out, bring it home and it doesn’t look anything like the color I saw in the store.  So thinking about a book cover is way out of my pay grade.  The designer, Amanda Kelsey did a great job of capturing a Texas feel and I love the graphics.  Thank you!!  Take a look.

Total ChaosTotal Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first in a trilogy set in Marseilles. Izzo’s Marseilles takes the city off my list of places to visit. The town, dark, gritty, with a raging undercurrent of bigotry, however, provides fertile soil for a crime thriller. A flawed protagonist moves through the plot struggling with his past and his present with a detail for the internal life of his character that seems more the norm with European writers.

Hits: Marseilles provides a gritty setting and becomes a character int he story; the well-developed interior life of the protagonist; a twisting plot that will keep you guessing

Misses: The plot involves a large number of characters who, after a time, I started to feel like I was watching a football match (pick the shape of your ball) with endless substitutions until I didn’t have any room left on my scorecard. If you want to completely get this plot — who did exactly what, when, where and why — you’ll need a whiteboard handy for keeping track of the players.

Recommended

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