Mysteries and Thrillers are cousins to Suspense, but they differ in focus.
In a suspense, something is about to happen.
In a mystery, something has already happened.
In suspense, the protagonist strives to get out of a puzzle.
In a mystery, the protagonist often strives to get into a puzzle.
A mystery, focuses on the crime, which usually happens early in the book. The rest of the story centers around the hero’s pursuit of the villain.
Now, about thrillers: The are extremely fast-paced, whereas a suspense story can have just about any pace.
A thriller is large in scale, perhaps involving the fate of the world as we know it—and the hero often knows who the villain is.
The focus of a thriller? Stopping the villain.
And, it’s as simple as that.
“How-To” books you may be interested in: Writing the Mystery by G. Miki Hayden; Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron; How to Write a Damn Good Thriller by James N. Frey; and Writing a Killer Thriller by Jodie Renner.
Famous Mystery and Thriller writers: Lee Child, Stephen King, John Grisham, James Patterson, Michael Connelly.
(Next week, we’ll talk about the difference between classic fiction and fan fiction).