This week I’ve been talking to writers about writing.
First, I talked to Amie Flanagan from Keys to the Page.
AF: I love how “Phantom Instinct” is broken up in separate scenes. It makes for a quick read. It’s almost cinematic. Did you choose to do this for pacing purposes? Why or why not?
MG: A thriller has to thrill. That means the story has to move forward at all times. Tightly paced scenes help propel the narrative ahead. More than that, though, scenes bring the story most vividly to life—they show instead of tell. They make readers feel they’re in the midst of immediate action. That’s why scenes can seem cinematic—because readers can see and hear them happening as they read.
AF: You do an amazing job in blurring the line between a plot driven story verses a character driven story. How do you make a person care about a character when you’re writing a plot driven book?
MG: Plot is what the characters do. In a thriller, plot is about the choices the characters make when facing deadly threats, under increasing pressure, often with time running out. To get readers to care, I follow the advice given to me years ago by mystery writer Leonard Tourney: Create sympathetic characters and put them in jeopardy.
Second, I answered questions for the fabulous thriller author J.T. Ellison.
Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
“The Heart of the Matter,” Don Henley. Oh, man, is this a great song to come up. It’s world-wise, heartbroken, and hopeful. “Baby, I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter… and I think it’s about forgiveness… forgiveness…” When I was writing the ending of China Lake, I would put this on repeat, unleash an emotional typhoon, and let it all pour onto the page.
Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?
I’m trying to come up with a nickname for a villain. Something sharp, memorable, and portentous. So, probably not Fluffy the Slayer.
As always, there’s more at the links. Because there are few things I enjoy more than talking about creative writing.