Saturday, October 15, 2005

the loneliness of the middle distance runner

i believe that characters who are alone and are loners are integral to most suspense plots.

Carolyn Wheat, in her book How to Write Killer Fiction, says, "Surround your hero with friends, and you lose the intense identification that makes true suspense so compelling."

somebody i know doesn't believe this, and always thinks my protagonists should have a huge support group of friends and family.


Jeff said...

I agree that the protagonist in a suspense novel who is a loner, for whatever reason, is more compelling. Safety in numbers is taken out of the equation, and the protagonist is faced with making critical decisions based almost entirely on their own judgement. I think all of us have a natural fear of being alone, isolated, and vulnerable, and when one of the lead characters is in this situation we can more readily identify with them, and it serves to heighten the suspense. One person isolated in a dark house when the weird noises begin can be a pretty damn suspenseful scene.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I think it's fine for your hero to have friends, to be well liked, etc., but I think it's crucial that he or she be completely alone with the particular dilemma that confronts him. It has to be something that will not allow him to seek his friends help or drives his friends away or alienates him in some way. The guy's gotta suffer. And being alone with nowhere to turn in the middle of a crisis is suffering to the max.

e-mom said...

are many people in real life surrounded by friends and family?
I've been in real life for 30years and never have i been surrounded by a support group of friends and family...even though they're always here...know what I mean.

Jer said...

Since I write cozies and not thrillers, this is an interesting discussion. I think I agree with you, anne.