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Homer's Odyssey is one of the oldest stories in the Western world and is regarded as an early prototype of the thriller, but here we take a brief look at what exactly is the definition of the thriller genre.
There's no narrow definition. According to International Thriller Writers, a thriller is characterized by "the sudden rush of emotions, the excitement, sense of suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace." In short, a thriller thrills. How? Mostly through skillful plotting.
Thriller is a genre of fiction in which tough, resourceful, but essentially ordinary heroes are pitted against villains determined to destroy them, their country, or the stability of the free world. Part of the allure of thrillers comes from not only what their stories are about, but also how they are told. High stakes, non-stop action, plot twists that both surprise and excite, settings that are both vibrant and exotic, and an intense pace that never lets up until the adrenalin packed climax.
Thriller fiction is hot! What makes readers love it so? How is it different from straight mystery or suspense? What is a thriller?
Today, thriller novels provide a rich literary feast embracing a wide variety of worlds - the law, espionage, action-adventure, casino underworld, medicine, police and crime, romance, history, politics, high-tech, and religion. Thrillers are usually about life and death situations. When skillfully written, thrillers can also carry the load of bigger themes than strict realism will allow. Other examples of this genre in literature include The Da Vinci Code, The Hunt for Red October, The Day of the Jackal, and Jurassic Park.
The Thriller fiction genre, sometimes called suspense fiction, is a genre of literature that typically entails fast-paced plots, numerous action scenes, and limited character development. One example is that: the hero, who may even be an ordinary citizen drawn into danger and intrigue by circumstances beyond their control faces danger alone or in the company of a small band of companions. The protagonist may be a law enforcement agent, a journalist, or a soldier, but typically he or she is cut off from the resources of "their" organization.
Part of the allure of thrillers comes from not only what their stories are about but how they are told. The plot of a thriller is usually driven by the villain, who presents obstacles that the hero must overcome.
Not all thrillers are suspense novels; but many suspense novels are thrillers. The average thriller is longer than the average mystery, which makes a brisk pace crucial to success.