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It's a thriller -- I guess
Tim Gordon
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 7:39 PM
Joined: 5/28/2011
Posts: 22

I'm a little jealous that the mystery section has "general mystery" but there's nothing similar for thriller. I wrote a book and posted it, but I can't really get it to fit into one of the categories. Yes, there's politics, but it's no Brad Thor. It's not military, it's no, now what?

I'd say it's closest to books like "The Hatchet" or "The Call of the Wild." Just general YA fiction. Does that not exist anymore?

Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Monday, September 26, 2011 3:25 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 353

Call of the Wild isn't a thriller, it's an adventure novel. A thriller really has to have a plot where the consequences of either action or inaction are enormous in scale: a whole city, a whole state, an entire country, the world. Jurassic Park is considered an environmental thriller because although the action is set on a small island and involves a handful of characters, the consequences of these characters' actions have far-reaching effects.

What is the basic hook/premise of your story? It's possible that you haven't written a thriller at all.

Do bear in mind that Book Country is a writing community specifically for genre fiction writers. If your book doesn't actually fit within the confines of the genre map, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the book. It may simply mean that we aren't the right community for that particular book.

Tim Gordon
Posted: Thursday, September 29, 2011 12:12 AM
Joined: 5/28/2011
Posts: 22

The basic plot follows two young adults, one who is the son of a hugely successful tycoon, the other a nobody girl from Idaho, who, for reasons unknown, becomes a target of the tycoon. The girl is locked away in a Mexican prison, while the son has to come to grips that his father, the man he's idolized all these years, may be more of a monster than a hero.

Based on the description you gave above, I can see it as being a thriller in that their actions do have far reaching effects. The girl is not locked up alone, and works to organize this community of a few hundred to break free. The son works to tear down the world's view of his father.
Dave McClure
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 4:27 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 21

I am likewise conflicted by this.  I guess my books to date could be called "political thrillers," but they don't take place in the legislature.  I wish there were a category for "General thriller," though I guess if there were it would be trashed by people who have no idea what the term means.
I read a decent description of the difference between a thriller and a mystery.  If you don't know whodunnit, it is a mystery.  If you know whodunnit and you are trying to stop them, it is a thriller.
Bob Schueler
Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013 11:39 AM
Joined: 9/8/2013
Posts: 9

I'm a new member who's somewhat frustrated with this genre category approach, especially if it means that this is the wrong site for me. I just finished a draft of a novel that is part thriller, sort of psychological, but which also has element of humor and romance. It's also about workplace struggles, and the different philosophical approaches and choices involved in mental health work and psychiatric recovery. It's designed to be readable, but interesting. I always liked the way a writer like Dick Francis introduced us to an unusual world of work--initially steeplechase racing, later things like winemaking and glass-blowing, and had non-gory suspense stories with real human interest set in those worlds. What genre category would that fall into? Suspense, mystery? I'm finding this genre-driven system a bit frustrating, but am quite new to the site, so maybe I just have to settle in. Help??
Lucy Silag
Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2013 3:02 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1356

Hi Bob,


Welcome to Book Country! I am about to send you a connection request so that we can be in touch directly--I will send you some links that might help you as you get oriented to the site.


As for genre distinctions (and how they work), I hear ya! My experience in publishing, writing, and teaching has been more focused on things like craft of writing, developing a good story, and attempting to be innovative (all important things). Until I started working at Book Country, I hadn't thought much about genre conventions, or how important they are to the success of a book. It's been such a learning experience for me, and an ongoing one. My Book Country team (and the publishing colleagues we work with in editorial, marketing, publicity, and sales) have shown me how important understanding genre is to helping a book find an audience, as well as helping a writer get the feedback he or she needs to make that book the best it can be. As I learn more about how it all works, I am actually finding it really fun to figure book a genre is in, almost like a parlor game!


On Friday I wrote a post on the Book Country blog about learning the difference between mystery and thriller. I wanted to show it to you and see what you think of it. From what I have learned so far about genre conventions, I am going to say that the work of Dick Francis goes into the category of "mystery . . ." but it's definitely up for debate.


What do other members think?



Book Country Community and Engagement Manager

Bob Schueler
Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 9:08 AM
Joined: 9/8/2013
Posts: 9

I am a recent member who is having the same issue: my book has elements of a thriller, but doesn't qualify according to your definition. It isn't a mystery either, exactly, though it has elements of that. If this is the wrong forum for me, can you suggest another?
thanks, Bob.

Lucy Silag
Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:08 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1356

Hi Bob!


This is a great thread to get involved in!


Let's think about this. First off, is your protagonist being chased in some way?

Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2013 9:50 AM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 8

But if a thriller is defined as something with far-reaching city/world consequences, then books like Gone Girl or Silence of The Lambs don't really fit, do they? The fallout in Gone Girl doesn't really affect anyone other than the two protagonists - and in my opinion they both got exactly what they deserved!


I've always gone for defining "crime" as whodunnit and "thriller" as whydunnit or will-he/she-survive-it. Mystery is a slightly gentler little brother of crime.


I define my books as psychological thrillers because they are more about the effects and survival than the actual deeds themselves.

Jonathan L
Posted: Sunday, April 6, 2014 4:53 PM
Joined: 4/2/2014
Posts: 14

I am having a difficult time with all of this as well. I posted my novel under suspense thriller, but I really think it is in the wrong genre now. I have always found placing books into sub-genres hard. My story has drama and action, so I just don't know. This thread has been very fun to read though. How do you know what genre your book is, especially if there aren't other books like it?
Michael R Hagan
Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2014 5:23 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229

I'm no expert, but I think many books cross genres; they just need to be boxed into the 'best fit' to be marketed. Crime is in at the moment, so you'll find large crime sections in book shops. Many of the synops found there would seem more 'thriller.' Stephen King is mostly sold within 'horror' yet much of it would be construed as thriller if written by someone else. 
This isn't scientific, but I simply went to a leading book store and read the synops of all the books in any section I thought elements of my book could lead it to be placed within.

To me it could be seen as horror, a thriller, historic fiction, or crime... To be honest, I still couldn't place it squarely in one...  but crime does sell!

Love the thread,


S. T. Collier
Posted: Saturday, November 8, 2014 12:31 AM
Joined: 6/4/2013
Posts: 35

The best advice i can give to other writers comes from a writing magazine I have read more than once about cross-genre writing. first find the base genre; the question here is what is the core genre of the story being told here ei: Fantasy, mystery, romance, thriller or science fiction.

than you add other elements from genres that you (The writer) feel are needed to spice up the story and make it more dramatic for the reader.


Hope this helps

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014 4:07 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 121

Mine fit no specific genre either, or none I've found here. My novels are crime, usually with a paranormal twist. On occasion, as I'm doing with my latest, I'm off on a different tangent.


 I'm not sure what the script on which I'm currently working would be called. It isn't a thriller, doesn't fit crime and although it has paranormal or supernatural elements, it isn't exactly in that genre either. It began as a horror story but even that element soon slipped away. I'll figure it out when I'm done, or I won't. LOL

Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 6:39 AM
Joined: 5/8/2016
Posts: 3

Can anyone help me with the genre? At first, I really thought that mine is a thriller, yet when I'm looking for the sub-genre under thriller, nothing fits my story. And when I read people's thread here, I am now confused whether my story is a mystery or a thriller. In my story, the protagonist killed someone else, and she is looking for answers on how to solve her problem. What genre does my story fits?