The Shimmer, whose main character is a private pilot, i took flying lessons and earned my pilots license. Double Image, a novel about a war photographer, i attended a three-month photography class, interviewed professional photographers, and spent many saturdays in photography galleries. The fifth Profession, The Protector, and, the naked Edge, i received intensive training from protective agents. The Spy Who came for Christmas, which takes place during a christmas eve snowfall on Santa fes Canyon road, one of the ten most distinctive streets in the United States, i walked that street on a snowy Christmas eve to verify the details of that. For outdoor survival sequences. Testament, i spent five weeks with the national Outdoor leadership School in the wind river mountains of wyoming. The point isnt to overload your book with tedious facts. Rather, your objective is to avoid mistakes that distract readers from your story.
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Number three: do your research, you dont need to be a physician or an attorney to write a medical thriller or a legal thriller, but it sure helps if youve been inside an emergency ward or a courtroom. Read non-fiction books about your topic. If characters shoot guns in your novel, its essential to fire one and essay realize how loud a shot can. Plus, the smell of burned gunpowder lingers on your hands. Dont rely on movies and television dramas for your research. Details in them are notoriously unreliable. For example, the fuel tanks of vehicles do not explode if they are shot. Nor do tires blow apart if shot with a pistol. But you frequently see this happen in films. I love doing research. It makes me a fuller person.
We cant recognize when a plot is hackneyed if we dont educate ourselves about the best that has been done in the genre. To provide examples, i co-edited (with Hank wagner) an International Thriller Writers thesis project, Thrillers: 100 Must reads, in which 100 contemporary thriller writers each provide a 1,000-word appreciation of a thriller with historical significance. We need to be experts in the history of the type of story we write, but our obligation doesnt end there. In the introduction. Thrillers: 100 Must reads, i comment on the numerous different categories within the genre: the legal thriller, the medical thriller, the political thriller, the spy thriller, the high-action thriller, etc. If youre writing a particular kind of thriller, become an expert in that category until you could give a lecture about. Imagine the embarrassment of proposing a plot idea to an editor, only to be told that its been done to death.
Number two: know the genres history. Each year, i teach at many writers conferences. Ive lost count of how many authors came to me with ideas that about they thought were original but that had already been around the block several times. For some of these writers, the history of the thriller genre begins with Dan Browns. The da vinci code. For others, it begins with Tom Clancys military-hardware novels or Thomas Harriss serial-killer novels or John le carrés realistic espionage novels. In contrast, a knowledgeable author might have said that the genre dates back a century and a half to 1860 when Wilkie collins published. The woman in White and reviewers believed that Collins had created something new: the novel of sensation. But the fact is, thrillers date back hundreds and thousands of years, all the way to the origin of story telling.
That lasted six months. During those months, editors routinely rejected thriller manuscripts, believing that thrillers were out of touch with what readers wanted. Imagine how hollow you would have felt if youd written one of those thrillers just to pay the bills. The only valid reason to write a thriller or any other kind of book is that youre absolutely driven to create. The idea nags at you until you cant resist immersing yourself in that universe. If the book doesnt sell, at least you gained the personal satisfaction of bringing it into the world. But if you didnt care about it in the first place, you sadly wasted your time. Before i start any novel, i write a lengthy answer to the following question: Why is this project worth a year of my life? If Im going to spend hundreds of days alone in a room, Id better have a good reason for writing a particular book.
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I remained sane by imagining stories in which I was a hero overcoming adversity. I escaped into books that were like the essay Alfred Hitchcock films I snuck into theaters to watch. When I became an adult, is it any wonder that the stories I felt compelled to write are thrillers? Every word nature of them carries the conviction of the stories that distracted me in my troubled youth. By contrast, if youre merely writing thrillers because theyre currently popular, you ought to think twice.
Few activities wear a writer down more than laboring on a book that isnt personally meaningful. After a while, writing that book becomes the equivalent of carrying a heavy extension ladder. Whats more, events might prevent the book from being published. On September 11, 2001, when terrorists rammed those passenger jets into the pentagon and the world Trade center buildings, the message went out from publishers, dont send us thrillers. People will no longer want plots that have bombs and guns and death. The days of violence in books are over. Society is experiencing a permanent change toward the need for peace and gentleness.
Back in 1972, when my debut novel, first Blood, introduced the character of Rambo, bestseller lists favored a mix of literary, sentimental, and historical fiction as well as the sort of celebrity gossip novels that we identify with Harold Robbins and Jacqueline susann. Not that thrillers were entirely absent. The terminal Man appeared on the, new York times list that year, but it was considered an exception. Only in the twenty-first century did thrillers become so unusually dominant. The reasons for that are complicated and a subject for another essay.
(see steve berrys concluding essay. Thrillers: 100 Must reads for an insightful discussion of this topic.). If youre a writer whos thinking of going in this direction, here are five pieces of advice that might help. Number one: know your motives, have a good reason for writing a thriller. Some personal background will illustrate my point. After my father died in World War ii, severe financial problems forced my mother to put me in an orphanage. She later remarried and reclaimed. My stepfather hated children. The arguments in my home were so verbally violent that I put pillows under my covers to make it seem that I slept there when I was actually cowering under my bed.
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An essential, authoritative, and enlightening read. If you like the things I write on this site, you should love this book, because its a lot more of my writing, its been reviewed by some of the best designers in the field, and its professionally edited (unlike this site). So feel free ions to go buy a printed copy or a drm-free ebook directly on the m site, and if you want to do me a solid, please write a review on Amazon. If you require a short url to link to this article, please use /384. Thrillers have never been more popular. New York times fiction bestseller lists, over half are often filled with examples of the genre. Thrillers even have their own organization, International Thriller Writers (which I co-founded with gayle lynds). But thrillers didnt always essay have this presence.
The book follows a typical design process. Ive divided it into three parts: Research, design, and Implementation. In each part, i introduce some of the most important techniques youll use (techniques like job Shadowing, contextual Interviews, card Sorting, Cloze tests, paper Prototype testing, Usability testing, or A/b testing and relevant concepts that will help you come up with usable designs (for example. While the book is aimed at people who are english new to usability, i believe its useful even if you have some (or a lot of) experience in the field, as evidenced by positive feedback ive received from other designers. Here are some testimonials: keith Lang, coo and interaction designer, skitch : An encyclopedic narrative of the life cycle of software ux design, stuffed with best practices, timely examples, and solid design methodologies. I wish I had it years ago! Jon Bell, interaction designer, windows Phone : Its hard to write about usability concepts without sounding overly academic, but thats exactly what lukas has done. This book is a must-read if you are familiar with basic usability concepts and are ready to learn more. Paul neave, interaction designer, neave interactive : «Designed for Use» distills lukass brilliant insight into the much neglected area of usability, ux, and ui design.
books? I dont need to know everything. I just want to, you know Isnt there a single book i can read that teaches me the ten percent of this stuff that Im actually going to use? there wasnt, so when The Pragmatic Programmers asked me if I wanted to write a book for them, i decided that this would be the book id write. After more than a year of writing, tech reviews, rewriting, more tech reviews, and more rewriting, its finally done. The book is called, designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the web.
You should report probably buy both of Steve krugs books. Dont make me think, and then read, rocket Surgery made easy. This will give you an overview of what usability is, and how to do usability tests. Next, you should read Carolyn Snyders book on paper prototyping, because thats a really important aspect of usability testing. Oh, i forgot, you definitely want to read Don Normans. The design of everyday things before you read any of the other books, and probably also. Wait, are you doing web design? In that case, also read jakob nielsens. I also like his, homepage Usability, theres lots of great stuff in there.
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June 28, 2011, executive summary: ive written a book. If you like this site, youll love the book. You can buy it printed on paper or as a drm-free ebook on the Pragmatic Programmers website. Im often approached by programmers, visual designers, and sometimes even by project managers who want to learn more about usability. The conversation typically goes something like this: «I want to learn about usability, but I dont really know where to start. Are there thesis any good books you can recommend?». Of course, there are, i answer.