These are interesting blogs on genres, and some of the text has been copied here.
THRILLER/SUSPENSE/ADVENTURE: Genre Fiction
The plot is concentrated on quickly moving action, danger, and high stakes. The main characters always have something threatening their very lives, if not multiple things and it is very much a rush against time. The characters do not lead a normal everyday life, or at least if they started out leading one of normality something comes along and changes that in a quick fast hurry.
Suspense and tension keep the reader concerned with what is going to happen next. Most sources say that the adventure itself (plot) overshadows and is more important than the characters and theme. Whatever the case, this genre is all about the emotional and psychological thrill and/or excitement evoked in the reader.
Thriller dictates that the action is of a quick pace. Leans more towards the sensational side of this genre. Generally has more violence, sex, as well as a “good vs. evil” basis.
Suspense is a slower, tenser buildup of the conflict.
Adventureis a more broad and generalized definition of this genre. Thriller and suspense are ultimately the same genre, simply at different ends of the spectrum. Each has its own measurement of suspense, action, adventure, and thrill, just at different level of extremes.
Part I What is a suspense novel?
Since suspense is a popular genre, often coupled with romance, I have created a seven part blog to share some of the important things to know about suspense. Wanting the perfect explanation, I searched online for a definition of a suspense novel and have found none that works for me. I’ve written a few romantic suspense novels that follows the suspense genre with romance added so here’s how I define a suspense novel.
A suspense is a novel that increases intensity as the main character faces deception and danger as he devises a means to overcome the threat from the villain. Suspense is made up of choices, twists, and clues. Readers experience of apprehension, anxiety and fear as they follow the main character. Suspense connects with readers when they identify with the plight of the main characters, and the suspense grows the more the are engaged by the choices of the main characters, the degree of good vs. bad, and an outcome that allows the villain receives his punishment.
Reading a suspense has common elements of a TV commercial breaks and chapter endings in fiction. Expectation. “What’s going to happen next?”
Suspense is edge of the seat questions: Who did it? Why? Is this a clue? How will the culprit be stopped? They are what readers call page-turners. Readers have a difficult time putting the novel down to go to bed, prepare dinner or leave for an appointment. And why? Because the story is a threat. . . to a person, a group or the world.
Well, well. Some significant changes to Minerva Day are in my near future. Don’t tell anyone because I’m not chaning it yet in the URL, but the novel is no longer a psychological thriller. It’s now under the genre mainstream women’s fiction. It’s been determined, and I’ve always had a hinkling it was true, that it doesn’t have enough “thrill” in it to be a thriller. I have no problem with this, I only want to get to the truth, and I REALLY want to get this novel finished already! I’m continuing to make little changes to it that over all should strengthen the story. I had a good conversation with my editor, Page Lambert, and she gave me some really good insights on it. However, the final run on changes is coming up very soon, then I’ll set it aside for a little while, then get one last look at it.
I’m already thinking of what I’ll write next. A dystopian novel?
Or maybe I’ll find something else to do.
Wow, if you’ve read my book or know anything about it, you know parts of this true news article is very apropro! Take a look at what the daughter says about her mother.
Hey, writers out there! This is a scene about one-third through the first novel I started. Just for fun, help me edit it. Katelyn is my protagonist and she’s just learned how to scuba dive. She and Walter are going on a dive to an old shipwreck off the shore of New York. This is the scene that ends Act One. Tell me what you think!
I was to meet Walter in an hour for our shipwreck dive. Recovering from the dream, I slipped out of bed, got myself ready, packed my equipment, and headed out, grabbing a blueberry muffin from the cabinet. We were to meet at the houseboat. Tiny droplets of rain splashed my car as I loaded my bag, the day’s fresh dew scent brightening my darker state of mind left over from my dream. I zipped my yellow windbreaker, pulled my cap further down on my forehead, and hopped in my car. While pulling out of my rain-splattered driveway, I did a quick once-over of Penny’s house. No one seemed to be home, which was usual. I noticed all the blinds were drawn in the three windows facing the street. I thought of Jack and wondered exactly what he’d be doing to help the situation. He wasn’t specific last night, which made me think the police had undercover work to do which the public may know nothing about. I hoped it was true in this case.
I drove up to see a smiling Walter carrying two small air tanks to his truck.
“Hey, need some help?” I said. “Or do you have everything?”
“This is it,” he said, “just need your stuff. How are you this fine morning?”
In spite of last night’s disturbing dream, I was wonderful. “So looking forward to this trip,” I said, handing him my bag.
“Let me close up the boat and we’ll be on our way. I’ll tell ya about the shipwreck on the way out.”
“Cool,” I said, sliding into the passenger’s seat.
The rain beat down as we drove the two miles to Walter’s dive boat. He kept it harbored with several other boats in Nick’s Harbor Shack, which Walter practically ran while the owners worked in NYC. “Hope this rain lets up a little out there so we can see past our noses,” he said.
“Shouldn’t be any trouble, should it?” I asked.
“Shouldn’t be,” he said, “although the sun might help with a few feet of clarity in the upper water.” He paused. “It’ll be ok.”
The ocean’s waves gently rocked as the boat sped through water. The Poison Skull ship wreck was located about fifty miles away, nestled ten miles off the shore of Oceanfront Tower. We settled in for the drive, raincoats wrapped around us even though the rain had slowed a bit. There was an unusual chill in the air. I kept my fleece-lined windbreaker on under my raincoat.
Walter reiterated for my excited ears the story of the American ship, Lorilei, how in 1914, sailing with twenty-four passengers from Maine to Virginia on a pleasure cruise, encountered what was considered then to be one of the meanest set of pirates this side of the world’s oceans. Attacking the ship’s structure caused the slow sink, with all passengers being savagely murdered accept for three, whom the pirates took captive and later killed. The leader of the clan was reportedly a psychopath, earning him the name Scary Scullery. His true name was Peter Scullery. The ship came to be called Poison Skull, its namesake coming from the demented acts of the pirate, reportedly chopping off the heads of the passengers and lining them up on deck, and the other part his last name.
We arrived at the site mid-morning, the rain letting up but still falling in steady drops. Walter and I took turns changing into our wetsuits and fins before coming out to help each other with the air tanks.
“Now remember,” Walter said, “if one of us doesn’t get a signal from the other, wait for it before descending, ok? We need to stay as close together as possible. Keep checking your air, and what is the sign for out of air?”
I held my palm flat, diagonal position, palm down, and moved it left and right.
“Great,” he said, “you’ll do fine.” Our masks secured in place, we sat down on the dive board, faced the sea, gave a thumbs up, and jumped off.
I followed Walter’s lead. We descended twenty feet. The water was slightly murky, brown dirt and some debris floated before our eyes. Walter moved out away from me, checking how far apart we could get. At about thirty feet, I waved for him to come a bit closer. By then, he was harder to see, the light chocolate-colored water almost concealing him from me. He advanced seven or eight feet toward me. I gave the ok signal and he gave the same.
Walter held his right thumb to the bottom of his flat, diagonal, left palm, then held up seven fingers. We were descending another seventy feet. Almost there, Walter signaled left hand outstretched, palm up, first two fingers of right hand across his palm. I looked at my gauge and gave the appropriate signal. I was doing ok. Walter gave a thumbs-up and pointed down. We were about thirty feet from the right-hand side of the Poison Skull.
As we descended upon the ship, Walter signaled stay together and I responded with an enthusiastic up and down motion of my head.
The water was slightly murkier, but still visible enough to see the outline of the ship and the first parts we came to. The ship, almost unrecognizable as one from this view, looked gigantic and still, the depth of the water adding to the quietness. I swam to an opening at the bow, and, bracing my hands on the frame, peered into what looked like the remnants of a large window or doorway. Walter was right behind me. I wanted to ask him if we could get inside but didn’t know the signal, so I proceeded to crawl through the space, knowing he’d let me know if it was off limits. On the other side, we saw big parts of the old ship, mostly unrecognizable by my untrained eye. Walter swam a few feet ahead of me. He was carrying his dive light, which lent some clarity to the ship’s parts. Moving along the bilge, we encountered what looked like a big wooden box which I searched but found no opening.
I signaled my air pressure number and Walter did the same. We were both doing ok. Ten minutes down, we were at the keel. I pointed to my watch and signaled 3. I needed to rest a few. Walter ok’d the signal and moved on ahead of me. I wasn’t out of breath, but the resistance of the water made me thankful for my regular runs on the beach. I undid my dive light from my belt and raised it head level. I knew if anything was left of the ship all those years ago, it was probably either rotted or disintegrated by now. It was said that items in shipwrecks were to be left there in respect for the ship, but I wondered how many people had been here through the years that didn’t mind that rule. I moved my hands along a moss-covered wall, feeling the smoothness of the wood. My left hand rested on something protruding from the wall. Looked like a cabinet of some sort. I looked farther left and saw Walter about fifteen feet ahead of me, looking at what appeared to be the remnants of old suitcases, each still stacked on top of the other in several rows. I knew we would be ascending soon, so left the empty cabinet and hurried on ahead.
Walter signaled we had about ten minutes left underwater. I checked my tank and nodded in agreement. He was holding something he had taken out of one of the suitcases. After examining it, he handed it to me. It was part of a wine glass, long stem still intact but half of the glass broken. My mind conjured up a picture of a young woman, dressed in the style of the early 1900s, in a tight corseted, puff-sleeved dress, sipping wine from this very glass, holding it to her lips, pinky extended, smiling furtively at a young tuxedoed gentleman coming to ask for a dance. I wondered how the wine glass ended up in a suitcase. A souvenir for her, or him, perhaps?
Walter swam ahead of me and exited out another opening on the opposite side of the ship. Heading just out of my sight, I saw him turn and search for me, peering into the place he just left, our vision semi-blocked by a huge, rounded metal casing extending several feet above our heads. Seeing him give the up signal, I headed his way. It was time to ascend. We had about six minutes of comfortable air time left.
Walter went on ahead, clearing the exit, giving me room to move through the jagged opening. I extended my foot to help push myself from the metal post, allowing myself leverage and more strength to crawl through the little space.
I felt my fin, foot inside, slip through something. I made a half-turn and saw my foot had gotten caught inside a small, foot-sized hole in the post. I pulled to release my foot. I turned it a bit and pulled again, harder this time. It wasn’t budging. My foot was stuck in the metal casing. Feeling a surge of panic, I told myself I to calm down, knowing getting panicked wouldn’t help my plight. I turned and looked to see if Walter was there. He was not. I imagined him just on the other side of the passage, waiting for me.
I turned back and curled up, wrapping my hands around my lower leg and turning it. I had secured my dive light to my wrist and it was bobbing around in unison.
That’s when I saw it, maybe fifteen feet beyond the other side of the post, where we had come from a few minutes ago. It’s long body moving slowly and deliberately through the water. My heart pounded.
My heart leaped to my throat. Stomach beginning to churn, I turned back and frantically worked my foot in the post. Where are you, Walter? Please. Where are you? I began thrashing, hands letting go of my leg, jerking my stuck food in and around the prison in which it was captive. I saw the shark moving toward me.
I was going to die. My first dive and it will take my life. I wanted to scream but couldn’t, cognizant of the time on my air tank.
In an instant, I felt Walter’s arms around me. In a death grip, he pulled, but nothing. Moving to grab the end of my leg, I knew he saw the shark. He used the same frantic, jerky movements I had used just seconds before. How much air left in the tanks? We had no time to look now.
The shark moved to the other side of the post. I could see it just beyond my right side now, maybe ten feet away. It steadily moved closer. I felt the heave in my throat, the blood pounding in my ears.
I saw Walter let go of my leg and disappear around the other side of the post. Don’t go. Please. Please God, help me. Help me. The shark came closer, maybe two feet away. My father’s face, smiling lifting me for a hug. Walter…
Before it registered, a sharp stab in my right side. The shark pulled away as blood stained the water, billowing out as it shrank back. Gulping for a breath, I wrapped my arms around myself, instinctively pulling in to my core.
I saw Walter just above the top of the shark, something raised in his hand, arm outstretched. I saw him lunge once, pull back, lunge again. The shark moved once again toward me. He was on the shark now, legs holding on, one arm around it, the other clutching the object, continuing to lunge. Blood filled the water as Walter drove the knife into the beast, again and again.
I gulped for air. Feeling light headed, I managed to gain an upper hand. Forcing my hands back to the end of my leg, I yanked and pulled, fighting against giving up, fighting against passing out. I gulped again and felt Walter behind me, dragging me up. My foot had slipped out of the hole on the last pull.
The last I remember, Walter was moving us up, up, up through the water before all went black around me.
My editor and I are about half way finished working on my novel. I’ve made many changes and feel good about them. I’m really lucky to have a thorough editor and a great teacher to help me write and rewrite this book. It IS hard work editing, as Elizabeth Brundage (published author) once told me. But it’s well worth it. It does test my patience, the process of it, but it’s worth the wait when I finally get to make the new changes and look forward to working on the next part. I just added two pages of the revised beginning to a post here on my blog. This has already been edited and approved.
Some things I’ve done with my work lately:
Dropped another character, changed the traits of another, moved one back to town, made one disappear, moved a death scene, heightened the tension with a gun, helped reader understand Walter’s way of thinking, changed the spelling of Lou to Lew, changed Walmart to Wal-Mart, changed a dinner get-together to two days later, added outside scenery details, worked MUCH on POV issues, made the opening stronger, interspersed parts of two different scenes, took out lots of “fluff,” tightened sentences in paragraphs, and on and on….
But I’m loving it!
Think one day it will be published? I do, one way or another!
“But it is true that always with Vera there could be no more relaxing,
of herself or those with her, because they were with her.”
-from A Dark-Adapted Eye
Minerva gazed through hollow, dark eyes toward the cold blur of the window while her husband of thirty years struggled to breathe. It was midnight, and all was quiet outside except for the screeches of bare, dead branches of a small tree against the outside window. The icy breeze grew stronger and more snow would fall, leaving the world buried and empty. She sat still, her lips tight and her fingers curled around the old rocking chair in the spare bedroom, the room in which Henry had wrestled with death for the last two weeks.
The only light in the room was a single fixture attached to the wall. Its soft glow cast shadows of Minerva and her grown twins, Piper and John, on the opposite side. Piper sat on one side of the bed, clutching her father’s limp hand, while John sat on the other side, head down in sorrow. No one had spoken for a while and the only sound in the room was the heater grinding on, then off, at regular intervals.
There was a sharp, raspy noise and Minerva rose to her feet. “Is he…?” Minerva’s voice halted when she looked past her son and heard her husband grapple for breath. She wrapped her arms around her shoulders to keep herself from shivering. She blinked hard at the pitiful figure before her; Henry’s tall and proud body had shriveled to a pathetic old form.
Minerva stood and walked into the shadow cast by John, her shoulders stooped. She preferred not to come into the light where she could be seen. “He’s not good,” John said, his voice barely above a whisper. She stepped around him and saw him look again at his father.
Minerva frowned and cast her eyes on Piper. The raspy sound had startled her daughter, too. “He can’t breathe.” Piper said. “Let’s lift his head a little.” She tightened the belt on her robe and leaned toward Henry.
Minerva knew it wouldn’t be long. Henry’s face was pale, his lips the color of bursting veins. John whispered something to Piper and she frowned as if something struck her. Minerva felt Piper’s steely eyes on her, her body stiff and unforgiving in the presence of her mother. Minerva pretended not to notice and refused to look at the way Piper saw her. Instead, she settled into the chair again, staring out the window at the black outside, focused on the scraping of the branches.
Minerva knew Henry was unaware of her across the room, rocking away in an old chair put there years ago. He was just a sick old man now, curled and wrinkled, a baby again, both of his children by his side. She could smell the excrement in the room.
Minerva gripped the sides of the chair and pushed herself to its edge, then pressed on her knees to help her stand. She didn’t consider herself old like him, but parts of her body ached more when she was off her medication. “I’ll be back,” she said, her face twisted, feeling as if she was sniffing the air for the first time. Piper ignored her and John responded with a nod of his head.
She needed a break. Let the twins deal with Henry for now. Minerva paid her dues by taking care of him for the last several years. What could a few minutes away from all of them hurt? The twins were thirty-two years old now, not babies anymore. They didn’t need her, either. She swiped a hand across her forehead and tugged a strand of gray- sprinkled brown hair behind her ear.
The floors of the trailer creaked while she walked down the dark hall into the kitchen. She flipped on the light and looked around for her Chihuahua puppy, Lew. Always when Minerva entered the kitchen and Lew was in her little bed the puppy would roll out on its little legs and yap for attention, but not tonight. The dog laid curled deep in her bed pillow, eyes wide open. Minerva frowned at this, bent over, and hustled the puppy from its warm position. “Come here,” she said, her voice gruff. Lew didn’t have time to respond before Minerva pulled her to her cheek and kissed her square on the nose.
Minerva liked the satiny feel of the dog. She moved Lew’s warm body across her cheek and almost smiled. Anytime she needed a hug, Lew was there for her. Lew never failed her like humans did and she reveled in the dog’s unconditional love. “You hungry, little one?” she asked. Minerva imagined a reply and opened the fridge. She scooped a finger in a bowl of leftover mashed potatoes and brought it to the dog’s lips. Lew tipped her nose to the potatoes and shut her eyes. Minerva concluded she wasn’t hungry and wiped her fingers on a wadded towel on the counter.
She gently laid the puppy back in her bed and covered her with a miniature blanket Minerva had knitted herself. She thought she saw Lew smile when she did this and smiled herself. She patted the blanket and switched off the kitchen light.
She stepped from the kitchen to the living room and sat in semi-darkness in Henry’s chair. A light filtered into the room from the back bedroom where Piper slept. John’s rumpled pillow, sheet, and quilt covered half the couch across the room. It had been a long time since the twins stayed at home; they came in two weeks ago when Henry turned for the worse. “We will be here as long as it takes,” they both had said, almost at the same time. Minerva was relieved they were there to help with Henry, but nervous. Her frequent headaches and fuzzy thinking caused her mood to plummet, and she didn’t really want anyone around, causing trouble.
Minerva’s lips pursed and her heart raced while she worried about Piper’s attitude. She adjusted her bottom deeper in the seat and laid her head back. She thought of Piper and how close she was to Henry. His death would affect her harder than it would John.
Minerva lumbered out of the chair and stepped back into the kitchen. She bent to her knees, placed the palms of her hands face down, and lowered herself to the tiled floor by Lew’s bed. Holding the dog close to her face, she said, “Please God, Lew and I have been through so much. I think it would be best if you’d just let Henry go so we can get better. Henry has suffered enough.”
While she spoke a tear escaped down Minerva’s cheek and she promptly wiped it off. She kissed the top of Lew’s head. “Please God, be with us—help Piper and John be respectful toward me through this—be with us through this time of need. Help my kids know how to treat me. Help them know how to act toward me.” Minerva was going to say “especially Piper” but stopped herself. Many times she had prayed for it and gotten nothing. But god damn it she hated all this undue stress.
1. Had a wonderful Spring Break with my family. Christopher came and stayed with us. I taught him how to play Rummikub and he beat me consistently after the first game. Very ungrateful, I say.
2. I am now playing in the intermediate zone on the piano. Working on “Lara’s Theme” and “Over the Rainbow,” as well as “Moon River” and “Autumn Leaves.” Beautiful songs.
3. Completed and became certified in a concealed carry class (look at all those C’s!). It was very interesting.
4. My husband and I bought six baby chicks (three pullets and three red pullets) and a chicken coop. They will stay in the back yard.
All of this while waiting on edits and working on my novel. It’s coming along quite nicely.
And how! I don’t know what I was thinking all this last year about how I wrote a complete novel. NOW I’m writing a novel! I’ve taken out much and added much and am still going through and tightening my paragraphs. I’m STILL finding little mistakes I made from the last edit or never caught at all. I’m not disheartened, though. I’m only experiencing now what I’ve read about all along: Writing is hard work when you have to scrutinize your work, tear it up, break it down, and sometimes, start all over again before you can say it’s done!
But I’m liking my novel now better than I did before…and it’s worth the pain of having to do what I have to do.
I will be published one way or another–by a publisher or by myself!
Back to work for me. Check in later.
Since I’ve posted last I’ve done quite a bit of work on my novel. Next week I will be talking with Lambert about the first twenty pages…the inciting incident I moved up front…and go from there. In the meantime I’ve completely taken out a character (Sarah) that I thought at the beginning served to lighten up my story a bit and add some more romance to it. But now she’s gone. I’ve decided to make the story darker, more along the lines of a “thriller,” than what I’ve had before. Walter serves to add romance to the story for Minerva’s sake, but John can go find a girlfriend somewhere else!
I’m also rewriting John a little. He’s now stronger and I’ll be working on giving him a make-over. He will no longer be slim or on the smaller side. I will have him contrast with Piper more even though they are twins.
My editor has not suggested these things, but my son, Christopher, and I have talked about it.
It’s all about taking out what doesn’t move the story and having the courage to do so.
I have no trouble “killing my babies.” Some of them seem rather weak and downright awful.
Now my novel has 90,000 plus words instead of 97,000 plus words, and that is with the twenty pages added up front. I have cut SO much!
I’ve read that new writers tend to either write too much or too little, and I’m thankful it’s looking like I wrote too much. Seems like it’s easier to cut than to add.
I’ll be in touch.
Page Lambert, my editor, is very thorough and just awesome. I’m very grateful getting to work with a professional editor and receiving such useful feedback and advice.
For the writers out there, if you’re looking for an editor, take a look at this link: