Tag Archives: suspense

IS “SUSPENSE” A DYING GENRE?

Special note: My AUTHOR’S PAGE is now up at www.facebook.com/larrywtimm If you haven’t dropped by to “like” it, I’d be grateful if you would. Thanks.

Question: is Christian suspense fiction a genre that’s dying?

Answer: NO! NO! NO! If you think I’m being unclear or wishy-washy, let me add NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

It is my opinion that the whole mystery/suspense/thriller genre hasn’t even hit the mother-load yet. First, there will always be an interest in fiction that grabs our adrenal glands and gives them a hearty squeeze. (Okay, so I just disgusted myself with that image). Yep, Christians still like a good rush, especially when it’s part of a message that leaves hope in our hearts.

Second, I believe that the Christian market can increase its influence and impact by investing time and money into an intentional effort to attract more male readers to Christian fiction. But do men really read suspense books? YES! Men buy and read a ton of “secular” mystery/suspense/thriller books. And the major reason is because they are purposely targeted. And, sadly, the secular market is glad to cater to the fleshly desires of male readers. And there isn’t the stigma in the secular market that there is in the Christian market. Many men think that Christian fiction is only romance and bonnets. Is that a wrong perception? Yes. Are we doing enough to correct that mistaken idea? I humbly–and with no disrespect intended–submit that we are not.

I admit that I’m not sure what the answers are, but here are a few steps I think Christian writers can take to reach out to more men with the power of Christian fiction:

  • We must unapologetically proclaim the quality of Christian m/s/t/ fiction. And when men tell other men, it makes an impression. Even Christian men are largely unaware of the great Christian m/s/t fiction that is available. I’ve talked to men who saw the movie Courageous loved it. It has amazed me how many of those men didn’t know it was based on a book by Randy Alcorn.
  • We should intentionally look for opportunities to market Christian m/s/t/ fiction to men we know. This means we will be ready to recommend specific titles to men. The power of word-of-mouth marketing can sway male readers also. Can local writing groups help in this outreach?
  • We need to figure out ways to stress the “thrill-ride” aspect of Christian m/s/t fiction. Men are more likely to be open-minded to the idea of adventure than the idea of reading as an escape from real life. Many men see the “escapism” mentality as a confession of weakness. This includes the covers on the books we publish. When we understand how male readers think, we can more effectively market to them.
  • Christian writers and publishing houses are going to have to commit themselves to a serious strategy to grow the number of men who read Christian m/s/t fiction AND will need to commit to this strategy for several years.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in talking about this topic. But I really want to know what you think. is this a conversation worth having?

 

 

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Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

“Turn that Frown Upside Down…but not for long!”

I love to laugh. And I really enjoy making other people laugh. There’s something extremely satisfying about the power of humor. I try to sprinkle humorous moments through my suspense novels as a way of taking my foot off the gas for a moment, so the reader can take a breath. I want the reader to have a chuckle and enjoy a smile, but I want them to look out the windshield and see that another hairpin curve is up ahead. I want them to anticipate what’s about to happen.

Humor is as necessary as it is revealing.

It’s necessary because it can serve as a relief valve, allowing us to vent out some of the pressures that build up. It’s revealing in regard to the type and timing of the humor. And, often times, the power of humor is found in its ability to be a bonding agent. Humor is a universal experience. People of all cultures, generations, languages, and backgrounds find enjoyment in a good laugh. Smiles cross almost all barriers.

And humor is a great “set-up” tool. A reader laughs at something and, willingly or not, drops their guard a little. And when they do that, a writer can wring the most out of the next jolt of suspense. It’s like watching people giggle as the roller coaster climbs the steep incline, even though they know that “what goes up, must go down.” (I don’t personally ride roller coasters because when it comes to the contents of my stomach, the rule is reversed:  “what goes down will come up.”).

When a reader finishes one of my books, I want them to have no hesitation when they say, “That was a suspense book. What a ride!” And if the humor did its job, the ride was even better than they hoped it would be.

Do you think humor, especially in suspense books, is effective? Do you have any examples of writers who do it well?

SPECIAL NOTE: Please take a moment and drop by my friend’s blog, and enjoy an interview that Bethany Shaw Macmanus did with me. Let Bethany know what you think. I’m honored to be her guest at www.anoiseinthenight.wordpress.com

FRIDAY’S POST: I’m working on my version of a theme song for American Christian Fiction Writers and another “Top 10” list…so be sure to see which one is posted on Friday.  🙂

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“Ode to Writer’s Block” or “How I almost became a Romance Writer”

After reading today’s “offering”, you may think I should be fitted for one of those wrap-around sweaters that tie in the back. Enjoy! Have a good laugh even.

“Ode to Writer’s Block” or “How I almost became a Romance Writer.”

I opened my laptop, and stared at the screen.

I glared at the cursor as it blinked back at me.

I swallowed some coffee and peered at the clock,

determined to get through this writer’s block.

I paced round the table, ran my hand through my hair,

rubbed hard on my temples, then plopped down in my chair.

“Eureka!” I hollered, “now I am on it…

I think all my heroine needs is a bonnet!”

But a rude awakening then smashed my glee

I don’t write Amish…and my book’s buggy-free.

I slapped my forehead, slumped back in my chair

as the “boys in the basement” chose to play solitaire.

“No! I won’t play…okay, maybe one round.”

Then back to the book, and that keyboard I’d pound.

Two hours later, I snapped out of my trance

and decided to switch from suspense to romance.

Yes…an epic love story sounded just like the ticket.

I’ll make readers swoon, and Oprah will pick it.

A hunky pen name–that’s what I need,

so from now on “Suede Beefcake” I’ll be.

I giggled profusely, pumped my fist in the air,

leapt to my feet, then jumped up on the chair.

I danced on the table, on my chest started drumming,

sure a best-seller soon would be coming.

I ripped off my shirt, then crowed like a rooster,

until someone said, “Can I help you, mister?”

Wouldn’t you know it…it was just my luck…

I’d completely forgotten I’d come to Starbucks!

People were staring…wide-eyed, mouths a gaping,

one had a camera and I’m sure she was taping.

Others were frozen…mid-sip or mid-scone…

I decided it was time for me to go home.

I cleared my throat, hopped down to the floor,

snatched up my laptop, and ran for the door,

yelling, “I know what you’re thinking, but I can explain.

I am writer…Suede Beefcake is my name!”

My career writing romance was brief and quite tense.

And now I have returned to writing suspense.

The highs and the lows…the struggles and fighting…

Oh, how I love this thing they call “writing!”

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Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, editing, reading, Writing

What is suspenseful about suspense?

I’m really hoping that you will take a moment to answer the question I asked in the title to this post. As a Christian writer who writes in the suspense genre, I never want to lose touch with people who love to read. I’m taking a look at what draws you to suspense books, and what keeps you reading.

What types of situations hold you in suspense? What do you want the writer to tell you and what do you want to be left for your imagination to fill-in? What kind of characters are you drawn to? What scares you?

In what ways do you really want to see good triumph over evil? Be specific…example:  I want to see how a neglected child can learn to let love of God heal her inner wounds?

I hope to hear from you. Thanks.

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IT’S HERE!

Okay, as you read this, I’m heading to Dallas for the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. Months and months of hard work have gone into preparation for these next few days. I’ve written a book that I’m going to be pitching to agents and editors…and anyone else I can trap in a corner or on an elevator…err, I mean anyone else who wants to hear about a thrilling suspense novel.

Equal to that anticipation, however, is the excitement of seeing old friends. I’m already looking forward to hugs and handshakes, smiles and laughter, and everything that goes with being face-to-face with people I have learned to care about and admire. I’m going rub shoulders with incredibly talented writers, who’ve never heard of me but I’ve sure heard of them. It’s an honor.

But it isn’t all fun and games. This is also a time to dig in and learn how to become a better writer. If I can’t be teachable, then I’m wasting my time. I don’t plan on wasting my time. I plan on growing, on building new friendships, and on doing more listening and less talking.

It’s a wonderful opportunity. And when I get home on Sunday might, I want the Lord to look back over the way I spent my time and energy, and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

And as thrilled as I am to be going to Dallas, I’m more thrilled to be coming home to my wife and children.

Can you imagine what our gathering in heaven is going to be like? Wow! Talk about a homecoming! Are you ready?

 

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