Thrillerfest: postscript

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Thrillerfest was a lot of fun, because New York City, hell, yeah. The conference was held in Midtown Manhattan, a block from the Chrysler Building, seen above. And I spent time walking the streets of Brooklyn, seen below. In thriller writer terms, this is called research.

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The panel I took part in, “HOW MANY CAN I MURDER? Deciding On Your Body Count” was jolly and upbeat. Mostly. One author on the panel had written a novel in which nobody dies, and one had blown up a planet. I fell somewhere in between. We all agreed that a novel’s body count is too high when a fictional victim is murdered simply as a plot device, or when a character is killed off just to provide the protagonist with pain or motivation… especially when a female character is killed to inspire the hero to action. (See “Stuffed into the fridge.“) Then we cracked some jokes, so that nobody in the audience left despairing about the state of modern culture.

Practice PitchFest gave aspiring authors a chance to try out their pitch to agents and editors before doing it for real. I joined a bunch of authors and agents to listen to proposed pitches and help the new authors work on them. All I can say is: folks are brave. Also: if you have only five minutes to tell a professional about your novel, dive straight into the story. Explain the kernel of the plot in compelling terms. In a few sentences, tell who the main character is, what problem they have, and how they have to try to set it right. And good luck to you.

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