If you’ve read This Plague of Days, you know I go for unique takes on familiar genres. This is how I cut new grooves in an old record and made new word music.
1. There are no new ideas, but I have novel ideas that play with reader expectations. Always do the unexpected (usually within the confines of the genre, but certainly not always.)
2. Make it meta, commit and have fun with it.
3. Break the fourth wall and talk to the reader. Sure, Italo Calvino did it plenty. Why not you? (But not so much there is no story.)
4. Focus the psychological in psychological thriller on the protagonist. Done right, the reader will share in the pain and therapy.
5. Be the main character (yes, you!) and put ’em through the Poisoned Corridor of Shame and Rusty Carrot Scrapers.
6. Sift in some weird facts readers won’t think are true (but are.) Realistic context makes fiction feel like non-fiction. Cover your tracks and always let them wonder a bit what and how much to believe. Being a writer is a fine thing. Be a magician, too.
7. Give regular readers some Easter eggs with crossovers from other books. (New readers won’t notice, but the regulars will love it.)
8. Make the confrontations with self and others real and honest. There is underlying truth that’s bigger than mere facts.
9. Stir in plenty of action to push readers along.
10. Add pop culture references, nostalgia and funny dialogue to pull readers along. Make room for jokes. Be different enough to be memorable, but not so different readers hate you. Stay weird, but not for the sake of weirdness. For the sake of the readers who dig doing the daring.
Add a secret link and password at the end of the book so readers can find out more about what’s true and what isn’t. Slake their thirst, but don’t tell them everything, either. You don’t want to dispel too much magic in case there’s a sequel.
This is what I did. I called it Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes, The Autobiographical Crime Novel. I hope you like it.