Thrillers are another form of fantasy, dressed in different clothing.

I've had a bit of an epiphany lately.

Thrillers are just another form of fantasy, just dressed in different clothing. I used the word "fantasy" advisedly, but it's a better description than "fiction" because there is almost always an element of the fantastical.

I've written four thrillers so far. The first two had broad storylines, lots of characters and events. More like disaster movies than anything else, but with no supernatural elements. (The last draft of "Snaked" had a bit of it, due to editor demands, but it reads well without it.) They were fantastical in scope.

The next thriller was "Deadfall Ridge" and I purposely brought it down to a human street-level. It never altogether satisfied me and I wondered if I was just missing thriller chops.

"Takeover "was meant to be even more realistic, though I sort of threw in the towel in the second half of the book and layered in a plot. Weirdly, I felt it was the best characterization I'd done and yet the characterization fell short of the requirements of the story.

The new thriller, which has the working title of "Gangster Gothic" was meant to be hard-boiled Noir, action packed, straight ahead banger.

Of course, it's already gone off the rails. I've added a supernatural element but it is pretty subtle.

But the main point is that the protagonist is a tough guy, a loner, a heist artist. And in the course of inhabiting his skin I've realized that he is a power fantasy, a wish fulfillment. I've always been intrigued by the idea of the perfect crime--could I do a bank robbery, a heist, a murder and not get caught? How would I go about disappearing?

(I asked Linda if she ever had those fantasies and she said "no." So maybe I'm just a psycho.) 

The epiphany was that all of these thrillers I read are that. It seems, the more popular, the more fantasy they are. Lee Child, John Sandford, Tom Clancy, and so on. These are superheroes in thriller clothing.

I think this might be true of all genres. (Which is what I read.) Escapist literature.

One of the things that has always bugged me about writer's group are those members who beg off critiquing by saying, "I don't read that kind of thing."

But a story is a story is a story.

There may be different tropes, different levels of characterization, different approaches to plot, different styles but...

A Story is a Story is a Story.

This realization about thrillers has just freed me up to write what I want to write. I think what is going to happen is that in the rewrites I will bring in the description and detail to ground it in reality, but as far as the story telling is concerned, it's anything goes.

I'm enjoying this book so far and it FEELS right, which is the most important indicator that it will turn out all right.