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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Finding Ideas for Thriller Plots

     I have been asked a few times how hard was it to come up with the plot for Einstein's Trunk. The truth is, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I came up with the title first and then a few scenes just naturally formed in my mind - and the book took off from there. My personal view is that working out a thriller's entire plot is certainly challenging, but finding a good, basic premise for a thriller is really not that hard. Most thrillers, even great thrillers, sound pretty hachneyed when summarized down to one sentence, and become alive and fascinating only when told well.
     The story goes that Ernest Hemingway based his story 'The Old Man and the Sea' on a story in a newspaper article, and the main character, Santiago, on the Cuban fisherman who captained his boat when Hemingway lived in Cuba during the '30s. So, with that as my inspiration for this posting, I looked at the first few headlines in today's New York Times and came up with these three thriller plots:
a.  Ex-Congressman lobbies for the medical industry, amassing great profits for his benefactors while reducing overall patient health care. One patient dies an avoidable death and the brother hunts the ex-congressman for revenge. 
b.  The U.S. shows greater than expected job growth and one of the beneficiaries is a family man with three kids. He works at his new job for 6 months then gets laid off as Tea Party policies upset the economy and cause massive layoffs again. He sends his wife and children to live with family, and he joins the Tea Party to..."  Well, the rest is up to your imagination.
c. During Hurricane Katrina looters prowl the deserted streets of New Orleans and neighborhood vigilantes take matters into their own hands.
     Bottom line: Finding ideas for thrillers is easy. It's all in the writing.
     My next post will be on Rulon Hurt's political persuasion. Is he a Democrat or a Republican? Inquiring minds want to know. And what about Yohaba - that ex-punk, European socialist, heavy metal, tattooed beauty? Has she had any influence on Rulon politically?

     All the best,

     Jim

    Zurich

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