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Thriller and Suspense Subgenres

We have been examining different genre story structures. This week, we look at Thriller and Suspense subgenres.

1. Conspiracy Thrillers  unravel the mystery of an organization or powerful group of enemies. The hero is the only one who sees the pattern.

2. Crime Thrillers are a hybrid of Mystery and Thriller that offers suspenseful crimes that either failed or succeeded. They often focus on the criminal instead of the police side of things. They are more action-themed, high octane tales that don’t  follow the “sleuth solving crime” framework.

3. Disaster Thrillers can explore threats such as nuclear threats, genocide, or world war, or natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes, horde of locusts, or disappearing ozone layer.

4. Erotic Thrillers combine the Thriller structure with an explicit or twisted romance structure. Usually the protagonist unintentionally invites the crazy person into his/her life by having an affair, striking up a friendship, or hiring them to be their nanny.

5. Legal Thrillers usually have a lawyer-protagonist who confronts enemies both inside and outside the courtroom with life and death stakes.

6. Medical Thrillers feature doctors or other medical personnel facing a medical threat such as a rogue virus, organ harvesters, evil pharmaceutical companies, or a mad scientist bent on genetic experimentation.

7. Political Thrillers have protagonists who must save their government or thwart the corrupt government that hires them.

8. Psychological Thrillers offer subtle, psychological mind games of cat and mouse.

9. Religious Thrillers feature sleuths that are religious figures or plots surrounding religion, religious figures or religious objects. Often a big secret is revealed that twists accepted knowledge. There can be paranormal elements to these stories.

10. Supernatural Thrillers feature otherworldly elements are mixed with tension, suspense, and plot twists. They often explore topics such as ESP, ghosts, and super-human capabilities.

11. Techno Thrillers feature threats surrounding technology, particularly technology gone awry: computers that decide to take over, people lost in computer programs, hackers, or war games gone wrong.


Next week, we explore the building blocks for the Thriller and Suspense skeleton.

Check out the newly released Thriller Build A Plot Workbook in print and e-book.

For more about how to craft plots using conflict check out, Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict available in print and e-book and check out the free tools and information about the series on my website.

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