I’m reworking a psychological thriller and trying to include as many calm moments as possible in the story. Too much tension, and the reader might lose interest. Too little, and the reader might get bored. The general reader wants to identify with a character, and the writer needs to invite the readers into that character’s life. Difficult, but a rewarding process.
The following is a short sample based around the central character’s sister and son.
In the morning, I go off to a country park with Mel and Robert The acorn trail with yellow fields on either side. We take photographs of deer and stop for a picnic lunch near a wooden hut. Purchase mugs and mint cake from a gift shop. Pencils and stencils and art paper for Mel. I buy a pair of cheap sunglasses for the fun of it and get Robert to take a photograph of me prancing about in the shades. It’s another crisp October day, sunny but nippy with the smells of pines and honey and cider apples.
Another shot taken on my camera:
I’m at a significant point in my writing generally: the need for the central character to have normal life and enjoy every day activities. In a psychological thriller, this can be difficult to bring off.
In the following scene, central character Alan has just returned home after spending the night on a mate’s couch following an evening in the pub. The evening itself was intense. Robert = Alan’s son, Mel = Alan’s sister, Samantha = Mel’s friend
I head to mine, gulp down a glass of tepid water from the sink and start the shower. Get in. Change into a fresh set of clothes and splash on some aftershave before going down to join Mel and Robert on the second floor. The interior of Samantha’s flat is different to mine or Mel’s: bean bags rather than chairs, knickknacks and ornaments on the shelves, glass coffee table with thick magenta candle stubs, paperbacks scattered on the floor, along with assorted shoes and trainers. Robert, I note, seems particularly sulky today, and hardly responds to anything I have to say, although he relates easily to Samantha. The four of us spend the morning making organic bread in the tiny kitchen area, Samantha chatting away barely, pausing for breath.
Taken on my way to work today.
Once more, I’m revising the plot of my second novel, a psychological thriller set in the north of England, UK. I finished the rewrite about three weeks ago and am fairly satisfied with the overall plot. A case, now, of how best to present it.
Trying to convincingly build up to chilling moments in my novel, a psychological thriller set in Lancashire:
I don’t recall falling asleep, only the distant sounds merging with my dreams: rain and muffled footsteps and soft voices in the flat, water pipe clanking in the wind. Rugged landscapes and the abandoned factories near Sheila Oscott’s home in Ticton, with the television mast in the distance. I drift and come to. Drift again, dream. And I wake suddenly at around three thirty in the morning with a sickly taste in my mouth and a hammering heart. From my days of training and running and rugby playing, I know my pulse rate is approaching the one hundred and fifty mark – a seriously high beats-per-minute within an athlete’s target range. I sit up in bed, sweating and shaking, my heart continuing to race at this alarmingly high speed
I caught these shots today of outer London, UK. I set my first novel, a psychological thriller, in similar surroundings.
From Secrets, a psychological thriller set in Lancashire, UK.
The aim? Psychological immediacy, atmosphere.
You did it, you did it. You did it and you ran away because you were a bad lad.
I catch a rhyme in the words, a northern dialect. The tone is similar, too similar, to the tone of the anonymous notes I received from Vince Macarthur nine years ago. I can almost smell him here in the flat. Pigeon smell, bird food smell, paraffin fuel from an old paraffin heater. Greasy hands, rough hands, with cracked finger lines. Nails yellow-brown and discoloured from years of smoking. Vince Macarthur dressed in a donkey jacket and cap, shuffling around with a large bag of bird food.
I phone the police station and leave a message for the officer I spoke with this morning. Then, I drive off with my laptop, away from The Factory, to the first town where there are people around. A coward’s way out, maybe, but I have to think of Robert and Mel, how they would cope if something happened to me.