Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Foray: Choosing a Topic for Your Debut Thriller, by @mrneil98

As is the case of many avid readers, I have a desire to write. Although my dabbling in gothic horror in the late seventies took a backseat to career and family took forefront, I continued to read, shifting genres from horror to mystery to history to thriller, with many of my favorites encompassing some combination thereof.  Now with my career settled and my nest mostly emptied, I’ve been  re-examining the possibility of writing, this time focusing on the thriller genre. Here-in lies my conundrum. What should be the topic of my first foray?

I have read novels by scores of thriller writers, following many from their first to their most current publication. Utilizing my mathematics background, I analyzed a number of first novel themes. Although the range was wide, I’ve determined that the topic should either be Atlantis or the Knights Templar (at least if you go by mode, since I‘m not sure how to average themes).  As a writer, you wish to focus on an area of interest for the readers and these are two popular topics for writers trying to create a market.

Often it takes an author several books to become an “overnight sensation”, like Dan Brown or Steve Berry. Each had two or three previous books overlooked or rejected outright. It wasn’t until The DaVinci Code with underlying Templar themes, that Brown became a force and readers revisited his previous three works. Similarly, Steve Berry’s third novel, The Templar Legacy, was his breakthrough publication that allowed his previous works (The Third Secret, The Amber Room) to reach a market. There are many other authors that chose the Knights as their preliminary offering. Raymond Khoury hit the NY Times  bestseller list with The Last Templar (and revisited with his fourth The Templar Salvation) and Paul Christopher has also created a  series of Templar books.

Atlantis is another mystery that has intrigued readers, and consequently writers, over recent years. It seems that many writers searching for an initial foothold have explored the mystery of Atlantis. The lure has not only  attracted initial publications like; David Gibbons (Atlantis), Andy McDermott (Hunt for Atlantis), and Thomas Greanias (Raising Atlantis), but established writers have explored the Atlantis phenomenon in novels like Atlantis Found by Clive Cussler and even James Rollins’ YA series with Jake Ransom.

As I reflect on these repeating themes, I attempt to derive a unique perspective but alas, so many writers and so few topics. So where do I go with my first  endeavor?  Atlantis or Knights Templar? Can I merge them somehow? Has that been done yet? At the very least I, like both the aspiring and successful writers who came before, will always have the Nazis to fall back on. 

1 comment:

  1. The Templar Legacy is Berry's fourth book. The Romanov Prophecy is his second book followed by The Third Secret.