Emelie Schepp’s Recipe to Write The Perfect Thriller…
(Swedish author Emelie Schepp took some time out of her busy schedule to give speak to us about writing, rejection, and most importantly the key ingredients to pen a successful thriller. And speaking of thrillers, Marked for Revenge will be released this month by Mira Books.)
TSM: How important is research for the beginning author?
ES: Research is always important whether you’re an aspiring writer or an established writer. It is important for you to decide whether your story should be 100 percent realistic or not. For me. as a suspense writer, it is very important that all the facts about the police are as correct as possible.
TSM: What are the books that can engage and teach an aspiring author?
ES: First, you should pick a genre or a topic that you love or are dedicated to, as you will spend a lot of time with the topic and characters.
When I began my writing career, I read a lot. I have always enjoyed reading crime fiction so for me it was never a question about what genre I would choose. I began the storytelling process with only a small understanding of where to even begin. But thanks to my years of reading, I was able to figure out the process successfully. So of course you can write a book just by reading crime, romance, classics, or your favorite books, but the truth is, there is much to learn about the principles of storytelling.
If you are an aspiring author, I highly recommend the book Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. Larry teaches you how to master the six specific aspects of the storytelling process. I especially like the part about story structure and story milestones.
I also recommend Stephen King’s On Writing. King gives you the basic tools every writer must have.
There are, of course, many books that teach you how to start a script, how to create believable characters, how to select the perspective and the environment. It is great to master the techniques, but don’t forget to believe in yourself while writing.
TSM: Should writers outline even if they feel like writing the whole thing?
ES: Outlining is a great tool. I love structure, so for me it is essential to construct an outline before I start writing the whole story. But even though I know where the story is going, Jana sometimes takes a path of her own, and the path she takes is almost always better than the one I had planned for her.
TSM: What are some of the aspects of business that a writer should know about to succeed?
ES: As a best-selling author, you have to see your book as your business and just as with any other business or company, you have to work hard and invest everything you have if you want to succeed. Sure it’s tough, but having your book as a hobby may also give you the same result. Another important lesson is that the story must be good enough, that is, the readers have to enjoy the reading experience. If the story is good enough, the readers will recommend it to others. So be kind to your readers and write a good book.
TSM: How can authors strike the delicate balance between plot and pacing?
ES: A well-paced novel means something different to everyone, and a lot of it depends on the genre and type of story. I always try to write fast-paced stories, cutting out all unnecessary details. If you need early coaching, a professional editor can help you balance plot and pacing.
TSM: Should authors use any type of computer program to help them in the process?
ES: Use the type of computer program you feel comfortable with. I was comfortable with Word and used it when writing Marked for Life. Now, four books later, I still use it. Some of my writing colleagues use the program Scrivener.
TSM: Rejection, how should it be handled?
ES: It’s never fun to be refused. All authors have been rejected at some point. When rejected, try to get constructive feedback from the publisher and use the feedback when rewriting your script. Then submit it again. Even Stieg Larsson (The Millennium series) was rejected. So never give up. You can also publish your book on your own. There are many successful self-publishers out there.
TSM: What is the best way to deal with writer’s block?
ES: Continue to write, no matter what. If you sit and wait for inspiration, then you will never finish your book.
TSM: What are the five ingredients necessary for a successful book?
– Create interesting characters. It is challenging, but absolutely necessary.
– Keep the action moving. Get my attention and help me to care about the characters and what happens to them.
- Struggle against time. Someone must be challenged or overcome something over a limited time period.
- Get feedback. If necessary, hire a professional editor who can help you balance plot and pacing.
– Don’t give up! Be stubborn and persistent. A successful story is not built overnight.
Emilie Schepp, recipient of the 2016 Best Swedish Crime Writer Award, is the author of Marked For Revenge which will be released later this month.