1. DeepWoods

    DeepWoods Member

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    Suspense, thriller and mysteries; what is the difference?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by DeepWoods, Nov 26, 2021.

    Hi everyone!

    I am confused between thriller, suspense and mysteries. What are the main differences between those three genres?

    Thanks for your help!
     
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  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I don't know a lot about it, but I do recall reading that one of the main differences, since they all share a lot of similarities, is the focus—which aspect is front and center. By weighting it differently you can shift the emphasis from thriller (more exciting and adventure oriented) to a mystery (about solving the case) or a suspense story (ummm, about keeping the readers in suspense I guess?) It's probably the kind of thing you don't worry about but let the publishers decide which it is.
     
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  3. evild4ve

    evild4ve Senior Member

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    This might need the OP to define their terms - and in so doing answer their own question.
    Wikipedia doesn't seem to distinguish Suspense and Thriller as genres, but treats suspense as a storytelling device important to Thrillers.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_fiction
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thriller_(genre)

    This page does distinguish them:-
    https://web.archive.org/web/20120402153017/http://www.olivia.mn.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7BA5273FC0-5569-4655-9B35-B3914FAE46D3%7D&DE=%7B216FD9B0-54A1-4D8A-BFC7-FC02098991C9%7D#


    But personally I don't put a lot of stock in genre distinctions. It might be helpful toward getting better comments if the OP can say a bit more about where they see their writing to be positioned between these three things.
     
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  4. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Currently Reading::
    "Consumed" by David Cronenberg
    Don't thrillers always switch to the villain's POV? (I think they do.) There's no doubt about what he's up to. The audience knows more than the MC. Like "Silence of the Lambs," for instance.

    Suspense and mystery are typically equal in that the reader knows the same as the MC. At least that's how it's treated in modern day. The reader has a chance to solve the mystery. I guess that depends on the author though. There's plenty of Sherlock Holmes stories in which the reader has no chance of guessing the culprit because the MC knows more than they do. I think the modern preference is to state all the proper clues so that the reader can figure out the ending before it's reached. It's almost a game between the writer and the reader. The MC is not fighting for normalcy, he/she just wants to understand.

    In suspense, you're not necessarily deducing the cause. It would be nice to understand, but you're mainly trying to endure and return to normalcy. Something like "Don't Look Now" is pretty good suspense. Or "Cube," which is like sci-fi / suspense. That one might skate the line bordering mystery too, because of its puzzle-clues. You're mostly along for the ride though, I feel. You're not supposed to realistically "solve" the Cube. I should have chosen a safer example . . . How about "Bird Box?" The creatures' presence is never explained. The goal is to endure and return to normal. (Normal for that world anyway.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
  5. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    @DeepWoods (If you're still around)—I'm starting to learn about this stuff myself, thought I'd drop some nuggets in here. You probably know way more than I do by now—I imagine you've been deep in research mode.
    • A 'whodunit'—the detective is attempting to discover the perpetrator of a crime. The perp is unknown through most of the story.
    • A thriller is a story in which the protagonist is in danger. We're not trying to find out so much who did it as how the protagonist is going to get away.
    • Suspense—we know already who the criminal is. The protagonist may or may not know, but the readers know, and the suspense involves how the protag is going to defeat the adversary, who's going to prevail, what's going to happen.
    Info from this video:

    (Starts @ 12:49—up to that point it's a long infommercial for the college he's speaking at and an intro for the speaker)

    This is literally the third time I've seen a reference to this movie in the last half an hour (of research into mysteries etc). And the Hannibal Lecter Collection came in today. I know what I'm about to go watch... (Actually I'll start with Manhunter first, Silence will be tomorrow).
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2022

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