My first book is a fiction fantasy novel titled Broken, part of the BREACH series a supernatural fantasy adventure series. As far as reading goes my great love is Mysteries and Thrillers. I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. These according to me are the hooks of a Mystery thriller without which any book/ story falls flat. There are many things, which contribute to a book’s success, but at a core level these are the factors that Make or Break the relationship between the Reader and Author.
THE TEN HOOKS YOUR MYSTERY/THRILLER NEEDS
While browsing through Amazon(or any other site) when a potential reader comes across your book, especially when they haven’t read your work before the first hook will be the Cover.
Does the Cover add sufficiently to the mysterious air of the book? Does the reader feel the need to read the blurb based on the cover? The colors and the cover design and layout on the cover do they draw attention?
The second thing a reader is likely to check out would be the blurb or the story in short. It helps them decide.-Is this something I want to invest my time in? Is it intriguing, does it hold my interest? Do I want to find out what really happens? If yes then the second hook is in.
TRACY CROSSWHITE SERIES -ROBERT DUGONI
Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.
When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.
THE FIRST LINES ON THE FIRST PAGE
You’ve still not crossed that bridge yet but you are half way across. Now that the reader has decided to almost pick up the book the first few lines might be the deciding factor. In a book store people skim through a book quickly but online or in a store, they always checkout the first few lines of the first chapter. It helps the reader judge whether the promise of the blurb and the cover are likely to be fulfilled or not.
‘Today is the day of my Father’s funeral. He was murdered.’ opening line of The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark.
THE FIRST CHAPTER
Now that the reader has almost settled into reading the book the First Chapter is important because he or she is going to use this to set expectations. They will be judging you on your ability to set the stage for the story? The initial glimpse/shadow of the mystery and the introduction of at least a couple of primary characters are slated in the first chapter.
In Pamela Crane’s new novel ‘ The Art of Fear’ in the first chapter a mother sees evil in her baby. Is she right? is it just depression she is suffering from or can she see the darkness in the child. The First Chapter makes you want to turn the page and read more.
The primary expectations have been set and probably met. Now the next thing in consideration is your narration style. What is the POV from which the story is being told, is it first person or third person? Depending on the story the perspective used lends depth or sets the level of intrigue. Are you revealing too much too early on in the story? In the interest of creating a mystery are you instead creating larger holes in your plot that you might not be able to explain away?
The foundation of any good thriller lies in its plot. Without a tight, well paced, plot, well the reader is lost. How would the reader feel if after getting past 70% of the book waiting for something to happen he or she realizes that they have already guessed the conclusion or that nothing really interesting is waiting ahead. There is no big reveal! Would there be motivation to continue?
Readers also obviously don’t want the Negative character or the root cause to be revealed in the beginning itself and if they are then they expect the motivations and drivers responsible for his or her blights to be unraveled gradually, layer by layer. Why else would they turn the next page?
Everyone likes surprises-especially readers of mysteries and thrillers. But in this context, a good surprise would be the revelation of a harsh truth uncovered, a brutal fact, a character who reappears from the dead like Lazarus. Readers dig this. Don’t surprise your reader by mysteriously making a character disappear (forgetting them) or changing a name suddenly. Readers notice such little editing errors. Those are not good surprises and tend to piss them off.
Someone once said that everything in the universe is connected. I wouldn’t want to comment on that philosophy. Connections in a mystery are those between characters- a common past, a relationship, a strange coincidence or connections between the past and the present. A good writer is able to drop a line here, a hint there and allude to those connections in a subtle manner without being overt and lay the ground for the grand finale. But too many connections and the story will seem like a comedy of coincidences.
Kendra Elliot books are always filled with connections from the past and the present linking with each other and providing enough mystery to intrigue the reader.
PACE AND PLANNING
In many books I’ve noticed that the writer has been extremely methodical and organized in laying the pace of the Introduction and the Middle. But as they meander towards the conclusion, they suddenly loose the plot and the pace quickens too rapidly( to make sense).New characters also appear out of the woodwork. The clueless protagonist suddenly turns Sherlock and it all falls together a little too conveniently. This confuses the reader.
read V C Andrews ‘Flowers in the Attic’ to understand the importance of setting the right pace and carefully laying the plot.
APTNESS AND UNDUE FOCUS
Sometimes as writers there may be one aspect or character in our book that appeals to us more than anything. In the event of this happening, it would be a mistake to dwell too much on that particular aspect.
For example the innocence of a character or the wretchedness of a situation – we need glimpses. A writer can provide this through dialogue, through the thoughts of another, a past memory and hints scattered randomly in the book NOT by a detailed monologue expounding on the subject.
Often a writer has a situation in mind say a romantic one or an emotional one that they are really keen to use – the fitment needs to be decided as per the plot. One cannot randomly take a scene and push it in out of context.
For example the lead couple has just learned about the death of a family member and in the very next scene the focus is on the girl thinking of all the reasons she digs the guy. Can happen but how the scene is handled is very important. Otherwise it jumps or jars the reader.
This is where we connect all the dots and join together the pieces of the puzzle that have been randomly dropped through out the book. It’s the masterpiece of the book.The finale is the conclusion of your book covered over the last few chapters. It should be handled with utmost delicacy. A cake mixed well BUT baked wrong falls flat.After creating a momentum, building the suspense if a writer suddenly decides to conclude rather rapidly the entire reading experience can go south. I would think the Finale needs loads of planning, precise and art to control the varying factors that are now coming together and present them in a manner that doesn’t seem like you’ve lost the plot.
Lee Child’s finale’s always always blow you away. When the big revelation comes you don’t want to be caught in the path.