1. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    Must you have a specialized field to write a thriller?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by aguywhotypes, Feb 1, 2015.

    It seems like thriller authors have a law, police, military background. Im looking to read a thriller by an author who does not have a specialized background. Any examples? I would like to atempt a thriller but I'm a college dropout and don't have any speciality background. It seems quite overwhelming.
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I think you might be surprised by the number of thriller/suspense writers who don't have any law enforcement or military experience. Daniel Silva and Jeffrey Deaver come to mind.
     
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  3. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It doesn't matter what you are writing, you don't need to be specialised in anything. I doubt all fantasy writers are specialised in medieval society and mythologies, that all war story writers have fought in a war, etc.

    While being a specialist may help, most obstacles you might encounter can be passed by doing some good old research and a working imagination. :)
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's the old "write what you know" that condemns all authors of serial killer books to a life of killing people - another of those dirty jobs that somebody's got to do.
     
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  5. Teviya Abramson
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    Teviya Abramson Member

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    I'm actually working on a thriller right now, and the only experience I have with the military is two grandfathers who were in different areas of the Navy, a love of (good) action movies, and a week training with the Israeli Defense Force. I'm having to do a literal metric ton of research, and I'm always worried that it'll end up reading like a formulaic supermarket two buck novel, but I'm not letting that stop me. It helps that I'm tempering the stuff I'm researching/making up with stuff that I actually do know, which is childcare and the antics kids can get up to.
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    What does 2,204.622 lbs of research look like, when (I imagine) your research is in the virtual world that is the internet?
     
  7. Teviya Abramson
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    Teviya Abramson Member

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    It looks like a nearly full hard drive, is what it looks like :rofl:
     
  8. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    It's amazing how much is available on the internet. Its even more amazing how much is not. Working on a book that requires a tremendous amount of research and got more from 8 hours at a small local library than I did on internet.

    To the OP, unless you are talking about quantum physics and the like, you can probably learn what you need to learn in order to write a book. Its more a matter of deciding whether you want to commit the time. Spend a few hours at the library or on the internet, read a little bit, and decide if you want to learn about the topic.
     
  9. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doing research for writing is a specific skill set. First you need to identify the specific areas of knowledge you need e.g. for police procedurals: radio protocols, locations of departments, rules relating to weapons use, crime scene investigation protocols. Massive reading on very aspect of criminal law is not required. On the other hand, a biography of (in this case) a policeman can be useful for the language, thought patterns, lore, superstitions etc.

    I have written novels based in Regency England, ancient Rome, present day London, the Caribbean during the Golden Age of piracy, and many others. It is quite possible to do without needing a degree in each subject.
     
  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since I carried my wife's computer with its 2x3 TB hard drives up the stairs last night, I must be stronger than I look to carry a "literal metric ton"!
     
  11. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Vince Flynn wasn't in the military. He just did a good amount of research.
     
  12. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Now that I think about, Lee Child definitely wasn't in the military either (he writes the Jack Reacher novels), but several of his books demonstrate a rather sophisticated understand of military protocol and hierarchy. Lee Child is actually British as far as I know, but all of his books are about a retired military police officer.
     
  13. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    No. A thriller can take place in any setting you can imagine, not only in a setting you can research.

    EDIT: to clarify: "thriller" refers to a plot that relies primarily on suspense. Police/legal/etc. procedurals (possibly requiring exhaustive research) that rely on suspense and fantasy/scifi stories (requiring more imagination than research) that rely on suspense are equally "thriller".
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Three words:
    Research
    Research
    Research

    Yes, people should write what they know, but the means to knowledge is unlimited.
     
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  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think "write what you know" is more about having the ability to be honest, than it is about having the ability to get all the details right. Sure, you can read all you want on Wikipedia about being a cop, for instance, but really knowing what it feels like to be an ***hole, you actually have to have been a cop for that!
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  16. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    Actually, being in the military myself, I can easily tell Lee Child wasn't ever a soldier. He has certainly done his research but there are a few things that don't fit. They're not necessarily wrong, just off. His use of the word "cubicle" nails him down as a non-American. He used it twice and each time I kept thinking "Why the hell is he calling a toilet stall a cubicle?"
     
  17. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that "cubicle" is more non-military than non-American - I'm not sure that I'd call it a cubicle, but I'd tend to err on the side of "robust" language if I was writing about the military. And it's the sort of thing that you wouldn't think to bother researching, and one of those little details that just misses getting it right.
     
  18. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    In my 26 years of experience in this country, I've never heard someone call a toilet stall a cubicle. Of course, I haven't lived everywhere in the U.S. so I can't say what people in New York or California may say.

    You are right about the sort of thing you wouldn't bother to research. In his first book "The Killing Floor," Jack Reacher states that he's never once lived in a house. Of course, any Army officer would laugh at this statement, probably while reading the book in his house/apartment, etc. It's the tiny things.

    Lastly, I certainly think you can research enough to sound like you do, indeed, have a specialization in that field. Everyone knows how famous Tom Clancy was for his technical accuracy, and he never served one day in the military.
     

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