EXCERPT from "To Thine Own Self Be True: Five Pieces of Advice for Potential Thriller Writers" by David Morrell in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction
Thrillers have never been more popular. On the New York Times hardback fiction bestseller list, over half are often filled with examples of the genre. Thrillers even have their own organization, International Thriller Writers. But they didn’t always have this presence. Back in 1972, when my debut novel, First Blood, introduced the character of Rambo, bestseller lists favored a mix of literary, sentimental, and historical fiction as well as the sort of celebrity gossip novels that we identify with Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann. Not that thrillers were entirely absent. Michael Crichton’s The Terminal Man appeared on the New York Times list that year, but it was considered an exception. Only in this decade did thrillers become so unusually dominant. If you’re a writer who’s thinking of going in this direction, here are five pieces of advice that might be helpful.
David Morrell is the award-winning author of First Blood, the novel in which Rambo was created. He holds a Ph. D. in American literature from Penn State and was a professor at the University of Iowa. Noted for his research, Morrell has written numerous international bestsellers that include the classic spy trilogy The Brotherhood of the Rose (the basis for an NBC miniseries after the Super Bowl), The Fraternity of the Stone, and The League of Night and Fog. International Thriller Writers honored him with its ThrillerMaster award. His writing book, The Successful Novelist, discusses what he has learned in his almost four decades as an author. Find him online at http://www.davidmorrell.net.