Over the years, Dan Brown has engaged in many interesting interviews. In his last one with THE GUARDIAN, he provided insights into how to write a bestseller. What can fellow writers learn from Brown?
First, he assured writers that they don’t have to be brilliantly original. (As the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us, there is nothing new under the sun.)
According to Brown, the key elements that a thriller must have are: a hero, a goal, obstacles that seem to make it impossible and a moment when the hero conquers the villain. Don’t get overcomplicated, Brown urges. Keep it simple.
Next is the idea of the ticking clock. This keeps the action interesting and exciting. He also talks about the crucible—constraining the main characters and forcing them to act.
Brown observes that these elements are needed in all forms of fiction not just thrillers. He also comments that we should write what we want to know not just what we actually know. I interpret that to mean that researching a topic of interest is significant. Having read his novels, I know he does love to do research—although at times, he info dumps, which is something I think writers need to be wary about doing.
Analyzing Dan Brown’s writing style and techniques can prove helpful to those of us writing today. In my last novel, DEATH PROMISE, I combined elements of both mystery and thriller. I would add that pacing is important in any novel. For instance, the writing should not sag in the middle.
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