Wednesday, September 30, 2009

James N. Frey's favorite thrillers


When James N. Frey released HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD MYSTERY in 2004, Booklist wrote the following review:

From the author of HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL (1987) comes a companion volume aimed at would-be mystery writers. Frey doesn't believe in those collections "of tips on what to do and what not to do," arguing that they give the false impression that writing good fiction is merely a matter of mixing ingredients in the right proportions. Instead, Frey maintains, the key to a good mystery isn't picking clues and getting the technical stuff right; it's a matter of finding the right people to tell your story, finding the right words to frame it, finding the right sequence of events to maximize suspense. Frey also spends time on an important but frequently neglected aspect of the writerly trade: the audience. Who reads mysteries, and what do they expect from them? Meanwhile, he tackles the nuts and bolts in a particularly clever manner, by guiding the reader through the creation of a virtual novel, which he calls Murder in Montana. This approach proves eminently practical and rich in details. A must for budding crime-fiction authors.

"The creation of a virtual novel"--that's the same instructional method Jim will be employing with those of us who attend his two-day pre-conference workshop, "How to Plot Like the Pros." In his next book, due out in March, this internationally bestselling author on the writer's craft turns his attention to his other favorite genre: thrillers.

As a follow-up question to her interview with 2010 Write Stuff keynote James N. Frey, conference chair Kathryn Craft asked what were some of his favorite thrillers, examples from which we might reasonably expect to find in his new book, HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD THRILLER. Here’s the list he provided.*

The Day of the Jackal (film based on novel by Frederick Forsyth)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (film based on novel by John le Carre)
The Ipcress File (film based on novel by Len Deighton)
A Funeral in Berlin (film based on novel by Len Deighton)
Jaws (film based on novel by Peter Benchley)
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (film based on novel by Robert Tine)
Psycho (Hitchock film based on novel by Robert Bloch)
Gaslight (film adapted from Patrick Hamilton’s play Gas Light)
The Sixth Sense (film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan)
Black Sunday (film based on novel by Thomas Harris)
Alien (Ridley Scott film)
Cape Fear (Martin Scorsese film)
Charlie Varick (film based on novel by John Reese)
The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (based on novel by Jack Finney)
Misery (film based on novel by Stephen King)
Hombre (film based on novel by Elmore Leonard)
Charade (film with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn)
The Naked Prey (Corenl Wilde film)
Play Misty for Me (Clint Eastwood film)
The Scarlet Pimpernel (films based on novel by Baroness Orczy)
Dead Calm (film based on novel by Charles Williams)
The Exorcist (film based on novel by William Peter Blatty)
Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick film)
The Boys from Brazil (film based on novel by Ira Levin)
Seven Days in May (film based on novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II)
Eye of the Needle (film based on Ken Follett’s novel STORM ISLAND)

*Note: For the sake of expediency, many authors who write “how to” books for writers use films as examples.

If you have a favorite thriller not on this list, feel free to post a comment.


Countdown update: 107 days until conference registration opens!

1 comment:

  1. Frey's book is one of my favorite writing books. It's not only full of good information, it's fun to read! I can't wait to hear him in person.

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