The Last Word, September 2022

I chose this stunning photo shot in Yellowstone (courtesy of Paul Sihler) for its haunting beauty.

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something (not so) good to read. The unwritten formula for writing mysteries and thrillers is on my mind this monthI gave up on State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton three-quarters of the way through. I found State of Terror to be formulaic. There were too many coincidences and implausible circumstances. And some of the family (and friend) relationships to Ellen Adams, the heroic Secretary of State, were just a little too cozy (pun intended). I had to agree with one review I read, “More of a novelty for political nerds than a compelling thriller.”

Something good to watch.  Speaking of writing thrillers against formula I recommend the film, “You Were Never Really Here,” written and directed by Lynne Ramsay and starring Joaquin Phoenix. Here is just a taste of Ramsay’s craftsmanship (spoiler alert). If you are hooked on mystery/thrillers and/or crime drama you have probably seen a thousand actors “die.” Have you ever seen one die while singing a song with, and holding the hand of, the stranger who just intentionally shot him? Brilliant!

Something I wrote. I have dramatically broken with formula in a major way at least once in each of my three eco-thrillers, The Straw That Broke, Some Say Fire, and Rare as Earth. And I have been criticized (and praised) each time. As a writer one must be prepared to be chastised for breaking with expectation and tradition. Personally, I’d rather take that risk than be too predictable.

Something to do. Want to have some nerdy writer’s fun? Choose a scene from a film or novel—say for instance, when two unattached characters clash initially it is a sure sign they will end up together—and rewrite it in a fresh and surprising way.

Happy reading. Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website:  Book trailer:   

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