Excitement, Suspense, Anticipation and Anxiety – Thriller

A good novelist does not lead his characters, he follows them. A good novelist does not create events, he watches them happen and then writes down what he sees. A good novelist realizes he is a secretary, not God

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Read a good thriller or suspense novel and it is supposed to bring about a range of specific feelings. Excitement, anxiety, anticipation and suspense are the feelings they elicit and keep readers on the ‘edge of their seats’.

The plot of such a story builds towards a climax and it is common for important information to be covered-up. Plot twists, red herrings and cliff hangers are used regularly and the plot tends to be driven by a villain. One of the earliest examples of a thriller in the Western world, is widely considered to be Homer’s Odyssey.

What are the characteristics of a thriller?

thriller books

Many say that if a reader finds a story thrilling then it can be considered a thriller. But of course, the whole issue of what makes a novel a thriller is a little more complex than that. There are actually a number of characteristics. For example:

Suspense – this is what keeps a reader hooked on the story line until the very end. Hopefully, the climax isn’t too disappointing. The suspense is often combined with hope and anxiety which help create a level of anticipation.

Themes and characters – common elements include captivities, heists, revenge, kidnappings and ransoms. There will often be an investigation and the whodunit technique will be used. Plot twists, mind games, obsessions and psychology also play an important part.

If it’s a horror thriller there will generally be a serial killer, deathtraps, stalking and horror-of-personality themes. The characters are never the best of people and include criminals, stalkers, assassins, those in complicated relationships and more.

Story and setting – thrillers tend to have an air of menace and sudden violence about them, often including crime and murder. Characters tend to be put in dangerous situations or are trapped with no way of getting out. They tend to take place in very ordinary settings.

Nice guys don’t make waves. Instead they take the crumbs that life gives them and pretend they are good enough

he Apocalypse by Peter Meredith

Fairy tales are good examples of thrillers

Little Red Riding Hood, first published in 1697, is the earliest example of a psycho-stalker story. Walking through the woods, on her way to deliver food to her grandmother she is tricked into telling a wolf where she is going.

He gets there first and eats the grandmother and then waits for the girl disguised as the grandmother. The Three Apples, one of the tales in the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) is one of the earliest murder mysteries.