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What Makes A Great Thriller & What Do Readers Want From Reading Them?

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While many of us love getting stuck into a good thriller, we may be more reticent about actually writing one. Possibly the trickiest of all writing genres, the thriller comes with high expectations, which are hard to fulfil. So what do we expect from a thriller, and why do we enjoy reading them so much?

The thriller requires a delicate tightrope walk, negotiating the psychological makeup of both enemy and hero, teetering between the two, often with a cross-over between good and evil., drawing out the emotional pasts, fears doubts and dreads of the characters, and the meaning behind their actions. The reader must become the investigator, soaking up clues to enable them to understand the exact nature of the threat, feel the palpable terror of the world in which they immerse themselves, and share the struggles, victories and failures.

So what makes all this so addictive? Psychologists suggest (and they are no doubt the authority as it defines their day-to day job!) that getting inside the head of a character who acts in a morally ambiguous or even downright evil and inhumane way is a thrilling adventure in itself. We are transported to the dark and alien depths of human character that we are seldom exposed to in real life-and are privy to the raw emotions which produce these vagaries and allow humans with broken minds to cross the lines of accepted behaviour. At times we may even align with the emotions of the perpetrator and feel something akin to empathy for them. The satisfaction we derive from this kind of voyeurism is entirely natural. The human species operates in social groups where we subconsciously and instinctively look for meaning behind actions, often assuming that others motivations are similar to our own. When this concept is challenged it results in a delicious unsettling flush of adrenaline…

We are on a roller-coaster, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting, page-turning journey with hopefully a last stomach churning twist, Heightening our senses and flooding our brains with intense emotion and a flood of natural dopamine and oxytocin -in short, safe escapism, and all from the comfort of your settee with an innocuous cup of tea or glass of wine in hand and no real fear of harm.

Can`t think of a better way to spend an afternoon…..!

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