What Dan Brown Does Right
“Ha!” you say. “Dan Brown is a hack. He doesn’t deserve his millions of followers.
He head hops, shows instead of tells, dumps info, layers the adverbs, and has clunky descriptions.”
All of that may be true, but he does several things that you should emulate to make your thriller thrilling.
1. Use the treasure hunt or bread crumb mystery skeleton.
2. Employ the chase.
3. Place your protagonist in danger.
4. Start the timer.
5. Include obscure historical facts and theories that intrigue your readers enough to want to know more about them.
6. Raise controversy. Nothing spawns sales like someone asking for your head.
7. Add a love interest.
8. Introduce an unusual protagonist.
I read Brown’s earlier books, Digital Fortress and Deception Point, before I read The Da Vinci Code. Both were solid suspense thrillers and I hope they make them into movies. As much as I love Langdon, the follow-up books have gotten progressively weaker. I keep reading them in the hopes of regaining that original thrill.
It was the controversy of The Da Vinci Code that made Brown headline news. However, controversy comes with risks. Be sure you can withstand the heat of the fires they set to roast you.
And, if you aren't willing to raise your level of craft, be prepared to be picked apart. Darling Dan is thumbing his nose all the way to the bank, but it wouldn't kill the guy to perfect his prose. Please, for the love of Fibonacci.