So many people have been grabbed by the shirt collar by movies like "Die Hard." It's non-stop action, and Bruce Willis' character is always ready for the next fight. Such is the thriller genre. I thought my novel fit into that category. The simple truth is, it doesn't.
I came to that realization recently thanks to agent Donald Maass. I sent Maass a query, and I billed my novel as a thriller. Well, it has several aspects of a thriller so why not? My problem is that the genre requires much tighter guidelines than I want to follow. It isn't that I am a rebel. I just want to create a character with far more depth than the "Die Hard" profile. Sure, there are plenty of yippee-ki-yay moments, but there's much more.
Maass replied that my first chapter didn't hook him and pull him from page to page as a good thriller should. Coming from any other agent, I would take it as good advice and nothing more. Maass is the master teacher among agents, so I look at his words differently.
Am I reworking my material to fit the genre? I could, but I won't. I want a protagonist with flaws, failures, hopes, dreams -- the stuff of a real life. I am taking a step back and recognizing that my novel needs to slip into that catch-all category of commercial fiction. I don't want to be as ponderous as literary fiction, but I don't want it to be as thin as the standard thriller. So, I will hang out here and sharpen my focus.
I will have more help from Maass in the near future. I am attending his writers workshop in a few weeks. I have attended sessions with Maass at writers conferences, and he is a wealth of great lessons. Now I get to receive that training face to face for an entire week. How nice is that?
WHAT AM I READING NOW: "The Drop" by Michael Connelly. I love Connelly's smooth delivery, and I love the Harry Bosch character. That's a great combination for any reader.