Sunday, January 30, 2011
Thriller Guy knew this was going to happen. He turns over the blog for one week and that guy Appel comes in and starts whining about the writing business. How many times has TG warned everyone that it's a terrible business and they should stay far away from it. Yes, it looks good, all cats lounging on typewriters, tweed, leather elbow patches and pipe smoking, but those days are long gone. Appel says he now knows he should have been a prick to his agent. At least to the point of insisting that the guy should actually try and sell his work. There was a time when Max Perkins and F. Scott would sit around in front of a crackling fire drinking scotch while Scott or some other writer would tell Max or some other agent his newest cockamamie idea for something he wanted to write, and Max or some other agent would gently try to steer the writer in a more profitable direction. When that didn't work and the writer wrote what he wanted to write, the agent would heave a sigh and then get down to work and try and sell whatever the guy wrote, because he was the writer's agent and that's what his job was. These days if you're lucky to get an agent many of them feel like they can pick and choose among what the writer has written or is writing and then if they can't sell it after a couple of tries, they give up and move on to another writer. They don't work for their writers, they work only for themselves.
So a writer has to be tough, has to be willing to fire an agent if he or she isn't trying hard enough or is simply cherry picking through the work looking for something to make a quick sale. TG doesn't think that everything a writer produces is going to sell, or that everything is of equal merit, that's being foolish, but if the work is professional it deserves to be put on the market and pushed if that's the business you're in.
So TG will offer his usual piece of advice to those who are dumb enough to try and make a buck cranking out words: shut up and get back to work. And if you've got to get tough with your agent, get tough.
On to the normally scheduled business...
Here are some things that are presently pissing TG off.
A recently reviewed thriller had four, count 'em, four, references to the “If I told you, I'd have to kill you,” gag. And this was in a WWII historical thriller, where it seemed even more inappropriate. TG has asked writers to stop doing this, it's so dated and stupid it only makes them look foolish. Four times in one book? (Picture TG shaking his head in dismay.)
TG is sick of women romance novelists trying to break into the thriller market by disguising romance for thriller by building plots around Arab terrorists or Nazis or Russian gangsters. Somewhere into these books the descriptions of hunky heroes start piling up and scenes of lovemaking ensue and pretty soon any thrills of the action kind are taken over by romance tropes. These books are more and more commonly being written under male pseudonyms. Be warned, romance writers! Thriller Guy is not tricked by these silly ruses! If you want to write romance, great, if you want to write thrillers, even better, but stop mixing them up and thinking TG is not going to notice. You will be reviewed fairly, and you will pay the price.
TG is now declaring a moratorium on writers employing suitcase nukes for their plot devices. Yes, the Russians might have made a bunch of them years ago and, yes, some of them may have gone astray, but none of them are going to blow up now the way they worked back then. There have been a number of recent articles about this, but writers are still using these devices as their too-cool-for-school weapon of choice. Sorry, guys, Tritium has a half-life of 13 years and Polonium's is even shorter. You could use a conventional bomb and pack it with the nuclear material to make it “dirty,” but that just isn't as exciting as leveling the U.S. Capitol and a mile of the surrounding cityscape, is it? So it's time to put the suitcase nukes back on the shelf. Do your research; come up with a new terror weapon.
Anyone else out there have a plot device that they're sick of? Something that you think has been done to death? Send 'em in, TG will be happy to publish your pet thriller peeve.