I’m trying to decide what to write next—another Detective Jackson story or a futuristic thriller I’ve outline and started. My creative side really wants to write the thriller, but my inner accountant wants me to write another Jackson story first.
Money considerations aside, police procedurals and thrillers are different, and each has its own challenges. A procedural tends to be more structured because the basis of the book is an investigation that must follow certain steps. When writing one of my Detective Jackson stories, I know that the narrative will likely include certain scenes: detectives at the crime scene, interviews with witnesses and suspects, the autopsy, and of course, the final take down. This structure makes plotting a little easier than writing a thriller. The challenge for every story in a detective series is to break out of the pattern and make the novel unique, and I think I’ve done a good job of that. I use different crimes, different POV characters, different types of openings, and distinctive endings.
Writing thrillers is less structured. The protagonist can go anywhere and almost anything can happen. A strong POV from the antagonist and parallel plots are part of the genre. For the creative side, this is quite liberating (and fun!), and I look forward to the freedom of writing a thriller. The lack of a familiar structure though is a little intimidating. Especially since I’m planning to write a futuristic thriller, a genre I haven’t tackled yet.
The last thriller I wrote, The Suicide Effect, was in 2004. Before that, I wrote The Baby Thief in 2000 (with five screenplays in between). I updated and published both thrillers recently, so they’ve available…in case any of my Jackson fans didn’t know about them.
So I’m excited and nervous to finish this standalone story, which features Detective Lara Evans twenty years in the future. I wish I could write both it and Jackson #6 at the same. Many authors seem to have first drafts of multiple stories in progress, but I’m just not geared that way. I can multitask in a zillion other ways, but I can only write one full-length story at a time.
My Jackson fans will be relieved to know that my husband just voted with my inner accountant, and so the thriller may have to wait. But the voting isn’t over.
Readers: What do you think?
Writers: Do you both? Which do you think is harder?