How Much is Enough?

In the writing of thrillers, some believe that the adventure begins in the first paragraph. But is that an ironclad rule?

What if the story begins with a tension-filled moment, such as a near-miss on the highway or a look from an unsettling character? Is this enough to entice the reader to continue on? Or does there have to be a murder?

It depends upon the genre. In some cases, such as police procedurals, the death happens early, and in many cases, often. The original crime leads investigators on a hunt for the killer, which then turns into additional murders and so forth.

In psychological thrillers, the novel begins with an event that leaves the reader uncomfortable. From there more and more events unfold, each more tension-filled than the last, until the culminating event occurs.

Your task is to write one of the above scenarios. In your short story, you either begin with a murder or slowly build tension. To begin, you must first choose your characters. Are they thieves? Housewives? Families? Bankers?

Then choose the setting. A car ride to visit relatives? A forest at night? An art museum or brokerage firm?

The culminating event comes next. Murder? Kidnapping? Car chase? Shooting? Holdup?

Now, write the story. When you are finished, go back and look for the most tension-filled part. Does it occur soon enough to bring in the reader? Is there enough to hold the reader entranced? If so, then you have accomplished your task!

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