Showing posts with label Thriller Plots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thriller Plots. Show all posts


Role of Romance in Thrillers


When a writer crafts a thriller, is there a role that romance should play in the plot? This would be a great question for a creative writing class, along with other plot elements. Why? I can think of at least two reasons. First, there is no formula or stock answer so the question should generate plenty of lively discussion. Second, the lively discussion would be fascinating, reflecting the individual tastes of the participants.

As a practical matter, the thriller genre has enough sub-genres to absorb any level of romance that a reader could want. We have books that are described and promoted as romantic suspence or romantic mystery. There are probably books promoted as romantic thrillers, though none come to mind immediately. There are several that I think are romantic, as will be noted below, but I do not think they are promoted as such.

The place to begin this inquiry is to ask “what is romance?” Is it the subtle intrigue in the evolution of a relationship that seems too bizarre to be possible (this was the case in the now best seller The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova). Or is it the sensuality of James Bond and his “Bond girls?” There are plenty of books that seem to surf on a swells of voyeurism as the plots center around sex. Which of these areas is romantic to you?

To me, “romance” is a critical element of the humanity of characters. For me to find kinship and interest in characters, I want to know that they have needs, hopes, and dreams. As a story progresses, I will identify with and be concerned about a character who is brave enough to address the danger in the story that is always on the horizon (after all, we are talking about thrillers). As empathy grows for the character, I am hopeful that he or she will find that dream at the end of the chase. If such elements of humanity are taken out of the character, it generally becomes more one dimensional and my interest is likely to wane.

For every successful thriller writer, there is a different formula that works for that author and the style of story that he or she likes to tell. If the style resonates with a large enough group of readers, then the author will find at least creative success, and maybe financial as well.

At the end of the day, fiction writers address what they know, with their own insecurities, hopes, or desires in full bloom for readers to enjoy as they will. Some of us are romantics. Others of us are, no doubt, so insecure in our own lives concerning romance that it is hard to imagine how characters would experience the romance that can only be dreamed of.

“What do you want in a thriller in terms of romance? Do you enjoy the intellectual stimulation of genuinely intriguing action story line (First Blood by David Morrell, the classic beginning of the Rambo saga. The only romance in that wonderful book was understanding what made that interesting young man home from war tick.

What about the chase to determine the famous Jason Bourne’s identity as the bad guys seek to shut him up forever (The Bourne Deception by Eric Von Lustrader and Robert Ludlum)? The romance here is often in the nature of liaisons that are consumed in the fire of the action. Do you want to understand the psyche of Jason and the sensuality that be hidden beneath the exterior that is painted vividly?

Or the romance could be a bit of prop to establish the humanity of a thriller character, which is a common way in which romance seems to be embraced in thrillers? I read a lot of books and I am constantly amazed at the prop nature of romance. In this sense, I think of a “prop” as being something that is necessary for the story but really has no role in it.

How about romance being the real story and the action parts being the background (Terms of Attraction by Kylie Brant). I loved that book because it was so easy to attach to the characters and wonder what possibility there was between. The needs of both male and female protagonists were plainly established from the first moment. She is a professional killer (a police sniper), who is needful. Can she find it?

Don’t you want your protagonists, male or female, to find excitement in their romantic lives? Don’t you want to read of them experiencing what you dream of for yourself? Do you want to see how the protagonists deal with emotions that you have felt in your life, reading the story amazed that fictional characters could experience what you have, then become hooked to see if they handle it better or worse that you did in your life?

For me? I love to combine an exciting thriller storyline with situations in which real people, like you or me, could find themselves ensnared. In Riddle of Berlin, the female protagonist sees a likely dead body in the waters of the Seine River in Paris. She strips naked, jumps in, hauls the inert carcass aboard, nurtures it back to health, as her boat traverses the waterways of Europe. She falls in love, as does he with her. Initially, he thinks he died and awoke in Heaven in the arms of angel. “Angels are soft,” he said, “and delicious.”

My conclusion about the role of romance in thrillers is that a fiction writer puts his or her own feelings on paper, whether it is conscious or not.

A few months ago, I was honored to be asked to address an African-American reading club. One of the ladies had read Riddle of Berlin and wanted me to address its Christian themes. Frankly, I was delighted to accept but mystified about the suggestion that there were Christian or even religious themes in the book.

Upon reflection and preparation, I was surprised to find a wide range of such themes. When I then thought through why they were so apparent when I was looking for them, but not when the words were getting on the page, I had an interesting self-revelation. Religion is an important part of my life, so as I write it is inevitable that such themes find their way into the storyline.

Similarly, romance is a driving force in my life so it is not surprising that it is front and center in what I write.


*This post first appeared on Love Romance Passion*

First Draft Done - The Dust Scenario


Yeah!  I just completed the first draft of The Dust Scenario, described by my agent as follows –

The recent economic collapse of the Western world is not as vague or
 nebulous as most of us think.  It was initiated by a Saudi Prince, who
 has been rewarded by various Governments for his efforts.  Now...
richer than ever before... he is preparing to take the economic attack 
to another level with the capitalists’ own money.   However, there's a
 glitch in his plan.  An American woman named Jaspar Jahns has tapes 
of the actual transactions in her possession.  And now she's on the 
run in Italy.  Her husband, who was the tool of the Prince and his 
Wall Street firm, is gone.  Her two children have been kidnapped.  And 
the Prince is after her.  But in the midst of this all... a mysterious 
assassin has come to her rescue.  And she's found an unlikely ally in 
an American Indian investor.  Hunted from all sides, unsure of who to 
trust... this trio will race and be chased around the world in an 
attempt to stop a madman's disastrous plans.

It is such a joy to write and feel the thrill of creativity in my own experience of it. I am thankful for the patience to savor the process. If this story, or some other, were ever to achieve commercial success, that would, of course, be fine. But it would be secondary to the internal satisfaction of completing a task.

Now onto the editing process.

Warms, Cym


Manifesto for Money Laundering Plots


The origin of plot ideas is always interesting. Based on my experience in travel, international finance and taxation, there is always some element of the geography I have experienced, the movements of money and the emotion of the people involved. Money laundering is one of my favorites, since it is, needless to say, the means of paying for intrigue and terrorism. For those who are interested in the ways and means of money laundering, an international intergovernmental organization has released a study of money laundering presumably for use by its thirty member countries. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is based in Paris and is composed of 30 Member countries, including most of the NATO countries, Mexico, and Japan. You can find grist for whatever mill you want here.

Warms, Cym


Economic Terrorism

I have been talking about how much fun I am having writing about economic terrorism in one of my current works, The Dust Scenario. I have learned of a thriller writer colleague, Per Kurowski, who is writing in the same areas, focusing on the AAA-bomb perhaps triggering the current financial fiasco. The story lines he traces are fascinating and I look forward to reading and reviewing his work.


This is a fascinating story line. I also believe that it could have happened, may be happening now, or could be occurring in the future in the next round of the saga. I look forward to reading and reviewing the book. The subject of economic terrorism is unexplored as best I can tell. I enjoy doing so as well.



Health Care, Money Laundering, and Thrillers


Listening the President’s speech last night and all of the vagueness about where this plan begins and others end reminds me of the huge opportunities for moving money through such systems for the purpose of cleansing the funds from dirty to clean.

Of course, this is ripe territory for thriller writers. I devised one scheme as part of background in The Riddle of Berlin.

I may have to return to this subject.

Warms, Cym


Money Launderers on the Run

It is a rainy day on the Prosperite. It began as a peaceful day eating breakfast on board with friends then to the outdoor market in Dijon. One charming couple slipped away in the crowd. As we returned frustrated with the fruitless search for the Emilys, a team of commandos circled the boat. A cold detective asked for the missing with drawn guns. They are money-launderers on the run. Sounds like a story? The Prosperite Intrigue.


Warms, CYM


USA Triathlon



Its Monday, so back to the world of taxation. I participated in the Sandestin Triathlon this weekend in Destin, Florida. This was my second USA Triathlon Association sanctioned event. The course was 500 yards (one half-mile) in the sea, 20 miles on bike, and 4 miles on foot. My time was the same as my first race in March, 2 hours 22 minutes, though this was longer in each stage. I was not in the top three for my age category. I was third last time. This was a much larger event, about 850 participants. So far so good. My goal is to be competitive at 70. I am 63 (click here for race results).

My agent wants me to develop a different bad guy for the Dust Scenario so I am working away at that. How about a barge operator in Burgundy gone crazy?



Synopsis of Dust Scenario

I am working away on my current manuscript. A writing colleague and my agent have asked for a more detailed synopsis. Please take a moment and leave me a comment with your thoughts.
I blog for comments!

Synopsis of Dust Scenario

Our economic collapse was the result of economic terrorism like the physical assault on 9/11. Governments of the world refuse to even consider that they were so inept as to be exploited by such terrorism. An even bigger attack is in motion. Can anyone protect us from this economic tsunami?

The collapse was initiated by a secretive Saudi Prince, who learned how to manipulate the capitalist system on Wall Street. Following his pride in the attacks on 9/11, the Prince orchestrated this by exploiting the bubble created by the excesses of Wall Street financial wizards. He profited on the inflation of the bubble, its collapse that he triggered, stock of the helpless banks he had crippled, receipt of U.S. Government bailout money, and on and on and on, outsmarting the Street and government at every turn. Now, he is poised to deliver the crippling blow intended to drain the wealth of the infidels into the hands of certitude. The world will be returned to where it was upon defeat of the European infidels in 1271 when the crusaders were ground into dust.

The heroine is Jaspar Jahns wife of the investment banker used by the Prince to execute his attack. She learns of his moral and financial infidelities, then escapes threats of her husband and the Prince. She is sheltered by an order of Philippine nuns who take her to the Vatican to learn of God’s will. She meets an aboriginal assassin, Ian Kirkland, who answers her plea to get her incriminating data into hands brave enough to stop the tsunami bearing down upon us.

Their race from the clutches of mercenaries and government agents in Rome takes them through Tuscany to Venice, where they board the Orient Express. They must find their way to safety not knowing the identity of their nemeses. They are helped by a famous American investor with contacts to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney who is brave enough to take action in the face of unrestrained opposition from his own government. Jaspar’s husband has been murdered and her children are held hostage by the Prince who threatens to roast them as he discovers that he is being attacked by someone even smarter than himself.

Outwitting the Prince and the governments of the West, the assassin induces the Prince, whose passion is racing Formula I cars, to compete in the Monaco Grand Prix as the debilitating financial attack is set to explode.

Along the way, Jaspar and Ian find in themselves the emotional keys to happiness that they had looked for in their prior lives.

* * * * * *

I started this in the first person intending to write a short story. I got into it and a novel manuscript is about half done in first draft, with the denouement clearly in mind. I am now rewriting the story into third person, and will keep the original manuscript for the short story that I would like to get published separately.

Warms, Cym


Cell Phone Technology for a Thriller


Today, I am sitting by a beautiful pool enjoying early August sunshine and writing away on the story I call The Dust Scenario, concerning the economic terrorist attack on the Western financial system that produced the recession that Wall Street wants to tell us is now abating. It is a thriller, so there is the danger of an even worse attack on the horizon. My protagonist has killed off a bunch of bad guys and has there cell phones, and one laptop computer. I am wondering if it is possible to use the phones to triangulate to who sent the bad guys?



James Bond...

I have been thinking that the world needs a new age James Bond to take care of the axis of evil folks. I have decided to take this on as a personal project. I was well along in the planning and training of my commandos to get through the seemingly impregnable defenses. And then ... 



North Korea...One Thriller Writer's Plot

The papers are full of the recent North Korean nuclear test and continued sabre-rattling seeking to shake down the world for more aid.  I have often wondered whether there is actually a government there or is Kim Jong Ill a characture for some group (investors, terrorists, take your pick) that makes a handsome profit from the foreign aid, starvation of the people, and engagement in underworld activities on a global basis.

It is a weird world, great for thriller writer imagination of backgrounds for stories.

North Korea as a Front for Investors (or Terrorists)

The stories of the efforts of the rest of the world to address the nuclear ambitions and threats of the regime in North Korea are legion.  It has often occurred to me in reading these stories that some group (such as clever investors or serious terrorists) might find investment in North Korea to be an interesting private play.  If such a firm can acquire a company with the market capitalization of many smaller countries, why not acquire a dictatorial country and operate it on a for profit basis, using its resources and assets as would be the case with any other investment.

Perhaps a wealthy investment fund assassinated Kim Jong Ill, then developed a puppet to be the dummy for the ventriloquist of the investor group.  It takes control of the country’s reigns of power, rewarding friends, killing foes, maintaining the wall around the country, all as occurs at the present time so there is no apparent change in direction.  Funds are extracted from foreign countries for humanitarian relief, suspension of nuclear weapons development, and appeasement.  North Korea also continues its business of arms export, ranging from missiles to other systems.  The people remain impoverished and starving, again as has been the case for generations so there is no apparent change.  The funds are used for . . . well, just let your imagination roam across the horizon of possibilities.