Notes from ThrillerFest – 2023

Notes from ThrillerFest – 2023

Information, inspiration and fun!  

Last year was such a rewarding experience at ThrillerFest in NYC that I was excited to go back again for more information, inspiration, and fun! (Plus the opportunity to pitch my fourth novel to the agents and publishers there looking to meet new authors.)

Last week’s event did not disappoint. Well-organised and generously supported by ITW (International Thriller Writers), it includes MasterClass workshops, Craft Fest presentations, PitchFest, and panels and interviews with many of the top award-winning, best-selling writers in the business. This year we had the pleasure to hear from Thriller Masters Walter Mosley, Charlaine Harris, and Michael Connelly, plus other long-time writers and some new superstars like Lisa Gardiner, Jack Carr, Brad Thor, James Comey (former FBI Director of ill-repute, now writing fiction), Karin Slaughter, Jennifer Hillier, Rick Mofina, and more.

We learned how they started, how they write and why they’re worth reading. We were also reminded that great writers are smart, articulate and funny! And generous with their time and advice for other writers. I learned from them all. And of course part of the fun was taking the fresh air breaks in Central Park or gawking at the bright lights of Times Square with the other tourists, in addition to the socializing and chatting with other writers and industry professionals.

Looking back over my notes from the five days, I have a few highlights to share with you:

  • A “Thriller” is simply a page turner that hooks the reader at the opening line and keeps them reading until the last page. It can be a cozy mystery, action adventure, spy story, political thriller, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, even true crime.
  • Conflict is essential in every chapter, not necessarily violent conflict but characters in opposition protecting their self-interest.
  • Plot twists have to be a surprise, unexpected, but also entirely logical. The reader should be left thinking, Wow, I never saw that coming, but I should have.
  • Don’t worry about AI and ChatGPT. No robot can be as creative and irrational as a human being.
  • The cover and the first line have to be an intriguing invitation to read the book, not easy to push aside and ignore. There are three to four million new books every year competing for the attention of several hundred million readers.
  • Social Media Marketing is simple: Get noticed. Get clicked. Get sold. (But it’s still not easy.)
  • Writers have to do research to get the facts right, but don’t have to share everything they learn. Just enough detail for readers to fill in the blanks for the movie running in their head.
  • The appeal of crime fiction – thrillers, mysteries and suspense – is that ultimately justice will be done and social issues will be exposed.
  • Writers write because they love telling stories with meaning and they want to share their enthusiasm and their creativity.

Enjoy reading your next thriller!


Del Chatterson

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment