Thursday, February 16, 2017

I proposed a Western to my new publisher, thinking that's what he wanted.

He wrote back to say: "I'll tell you, Dunc--the last thing I need are westerns! What I need are thrillers. Come up with a slam-bang idea and shit, I'll publish it... How's that?"

Well...that seems like an engraved invitation. You know...all I have to do is write a "slam-bang" book and all.

But kidding aside, I do feel like I have an "in" with this publisher if I can produce something decent. Having a receptive audience is half the battle, maybe more.

So it's got my head churning. Trying to figure out what I can do. I'm going to try to run some ideas past him, get some kind of approval for the premise at least in advance.

My favorite reads these days are Lee Child, John Sandford, Micheal Connelly, that kind of thing. But I've stayed away from trying to write them because of the technical demands of the story. Knowing about police procedures or weapons or martial arts or military--all these books have that in common.

I could maybe do them if I researched enough. But...frankly, that just seems both difficult and boring to me. Lots of places I can go wrong. "Hey, a Glock has no safety, nimrod!"

There is one book I really liked--A Simple Plan--which had normal people in it a dangerous situation. It was a simple premise and simply explicated in a realistic way. I've always thought that was the kind of book I'd like to try.

I have a little bit of an idea, but I don't know if it's slam-bang.

Writing what you know? Well, I know running a comic book store, so there's that. But really, is that the world I want to write about? It might be fun, but others have done it, and I just don't seem to have a knack for it.

But I would be inclined to write about Bend and Central Oregon if possible. There are some great locations around here.

Thing is...a single thriller, written to specifications, wouldn't do much. I'd really like to write something I can continue, a character who is impressive enough to carry a series, that I know something about, that I can be proud of.

So I need a slam-bang idea for a single book, but with a character who could continue in a series.

So...that's where my head is going to be for awhile.

Later: I made a quick sketchy proposal, with the thought that now is the time to strike. I like the idea, though it would require a whole lot of research, and even more vetting to get the facts correct. I think I have people who have the expertise to vet the story, if they are willing. I suppose since I'm being paid, I'd be willing to pay them, so that might help.

I'm pretty sure I'll have to do this on spec. In fact, I think I'd prefer to write it on spec.

Also, much more thought needs to go into this before I start. Not an outline, per se, but a lot of ideas assembled in advance.

There is a window of opportunity here, so I want to get it right.


Anonymous said...


Also, you could write a Western in a contemporary setting and it's a thriller....

Jim Cornelius

Dave Cline said...

Wasn't your Infidel's Inferno book a thriller?
Not to mention ILAY?

One might want to see what the world has produced thus far to make sure you're not duplicating a well-known plot and character development..."story+lines"

Must be the programmer in me...

A typical Bond 007 style sequence:

(jeopardy + conflict + risk = penalty/reward) +
(jeopardy + conflict + risk = reward) +
(jeopardy + conflict + risk = penalty) +
(big jeopardy + big conflict + big risk = big reward) = final reward

Some family, data or city is in jeopardy.
Bond arrives and conflict ensues.
At a crux in the conflict Bond makes a rash decision:
Partially succeeds but must pay an unexpected price. (Bond is fallible.)

Some greater entity is at risk.
Bond, known to the villain, cat/mouses as the conflict.
Bond attempting to redeem his initial failure, take a greater risk:
Succeeds to acclaim. (Bond is arrogant.)

Bond is now in jeopardy along with a state or country or system.
Villain escalates conflict with Bond and system.
Bond risks yet again, with hubris from prior success:
Fails, loses almost all, humiliated. (Bond is humble.)

World at risk now.
Bond fights not only villain but system too.
Bond risks all in last ditch attempt to beat villain and justify prior actions:
Succeeds, world is saved, Bond is hero, villains beware. (Bond is resilient.)

Just some thoughts.

If you need a sounding board on your ideas, I won't hold any punches. (grin)

Duncan McGeary said...

Dave, I want to be aware of thriller tropes, but at the same time avoid formula. Like I said, I read a hell of a lot of thrillers, so I think I've got the pattern down.

I feel ready to attempt this. All the writing I've done has given me the confidence. While I won't be posting the actual chapters, I do intend to talk about the contents and process.

I'm waiting for a go-ahead from the editor, but if I don't hear anything, which is entirely possible, I'll go ahead anyway with what I'm planning. (If he says, NO, then I'll try to think of something else.)

Duncan McGeary said...


My thoughts exactly. What I've come up with so far, is a wilderness guide hero based in Bend who runs afoul of the gangsters, who come to Bend to kill him.

City slickers against wilderness guide.

Roughly speaking. It's already taking form in my head, unfortunately, which means I'll probably write it.

I'm hoping I can create a character that can be used in further books.

Need help with wilderness stuff and weapons, probably as you for that. (And maybe Gary Lewis, if he's willing...)

Anonymous said...

Happy to play at whatever level. Like the premise a lot.

Jim Cornelius