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The Ingredients of a Good Thriller

4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1906669003
ISBN-10: 1906669007
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: LDB Publishing (November 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906669007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906669003
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,740,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
So awhile back the book The Ingredients Of A Good Thriller by Chris Wood wandered across my desk. It's no surprise that I spend a significant amount of time reading, but often I'm not really analyzing the structure or the makeup of how the story unfolds. I thought it might be interesting to start paying a bit more attention to that aspect of writing, hence the reason for reading this book.

Contents:
Starting Points
Different Types of Thrillers: Plots; Settings; Crime Scene; A Good Start
Characters: Overview; Sleuth; Sidekick; Villian; Victim; Anti-Hero; Red Herring; Enabler
Showing and Shaping Characters: Showing Character; Making the Goodie Really Good; Making the Baddie Really Bad; Dialogue and Language; What Type of Language?; Comic Relief; Relationship Trouble
Approaches and Details: Atmosphere; Make'em Flinch; How to Make A Kill A Crowd Pleaser; Setpieces; The "Pow" Factor; Milk The Suspense; The Feel of It; Humour Potential; Music That Thrills; Use Reality
Last But Not Least
Don't Give Up!; Recommended Crime Films; Recommended Crime Books; Afterward; Conclusion - The Essentials

On the positive side, Wood does a nice job hitting on all the major elements that would need to be present in a thriller. You obviously need to determine who your characters are, how they behave and interact, and how you can consistently carry that through the plot. You also have to understand dialogue (a pet peeve of mine). If it's not realistic, then the writing falls flat. His recommendation to pay attention to conversations you hear all around you is excellent. Think of it as a free workshop in learning how real people talk.

Where I had issues with the book was in the expected target vs. all the examples.
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Format: Paperback
Chris Wood's slender 221 page soft cover book `The Ingredients Of A Good Thriller' is a highly readable and surprisingly entertaining exploration of the necessary elements the would be novelist must consider when sitting down to write a good thriller. Understanding our human fascination for mystery, intrigue and justice he succinctly covers the major and minor categories found within this literary genre pointing out the necessary, optional and open-ended components to producing a successful and memorable novel.

Positing the all important question "what grabs the attention", Mr. Wood enhances his ideas and concepts by comparing the material with examples from well known books, feature films and television series. Personally I enjoyed this approach and believe in doing so he successfully illuminated and brought to life his ideas. It also served the purpose of keeping the reader focused and interested from beginning to end.

`The Ingredients Of A Good Thriller' is a useful, pragmatic, insightful and enjoyable read whether you plan to become a novelist or not. Maybe it's not the ultimate sourcebook for the novice writer, but it's certainly a solid place to begin.
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Format: Paperback
This book is perfect for the murderer in all of us. It almost tells you how to get away with the perfect crime, covering all the mistakes writers usually make before planning their grisly task. It is always informative and easy to read. Keep it close - very close.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Introduction states the author's purpose, "This book is for people who love thrillers and want to get in on the action. If you enjoy reading or watching them, this is for you. This book explores the area in as much detail as space allows. It is both a companion piece and an appreciation, giving insight and breaking down how things work."
I wish I had the chance to read this paragraph before purchasing this book as it very indicative of what is to follow. His chapters are very short (some may find this appealing) as if when he writes he is is afraid of developing and presenting his own writing but instead gives you the Cliff Notes from the most obvious analysis of big Hollywood movies. He obviously wanted to get in on the subject of the movies and novels that he loves. Just as in his first paragraphs there are words left out, "this (book) is for you" or his words are not considered as in "This book explores the area" instead of "subject" and with his condensation of the subject the depth was supposedly left out of this book supposedly out of consideration for space and not his ability to go into depth which seems more apparent.
If you are looking for a book on writing thrillers look elsewhere this is a book with a lot of examples of the obvious from hit movies and a few novels but not an informative book on writing, the book of a fan who likes Crime stories.
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Format: Paperback
The last theoretical manifesto of thriller-writing I read was Chandler's `The Simple Art of Murder'. Chandler was blowing his own trumpet and uttering a blast of it against the monstrous regiment of women (Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers etc) who dominated the genre in his time. What he produced became a famous piece of literary criticism, maybe indeed a piece of literature in its own right. What Chris Wood is doing is both less and more ambitious. This book has no pretentions to being literature, but the thriller genre has come on a lot since the day of Philip Marlowe, and Chris Wood offers would-be authors a handy manual of tips on what to try to achieve and particularly what to avoid.

He casts his net quite widely, including James Bond stories, the Godfather series, Graham Greene's Brighton Rock and other productions outside the `whodunit' category that Chandler restricted himself to. I suppose this is only realistic - it would not make much sense these days to try to exclude so much of what has become the mainstream. If the consequence of that is that a good deal of the advice offered could apply generally to novels that are nobody's idea of `thrillers', then that is a consequence we just have to accept. Chris Wood proceeds mainly by examples, and without actually having counted the examples I'd guess that more than half of them are taken from films. Even assuming that his advice is aimed at authors and not film producers or directors I still have no real problem with that until he raises the matter of background music, which surely should have been restricted to a footnote at the most. On the other hand, if films can feature so prominently, why is there not more about detective series on television? Some of these, e.g.
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