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Writing Process & Programs > Psychological thriller, suspense or something else entirely?

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message 1: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments I'm looking for some guidance about how to label my book, and people on here seem very knowledgeable. I assumed it came under 'psychological thriller', since that is described as a book where the characters are in psychological danger rather than physical.
But then I've read a few books described as psychological thrillers, and they always seem to involve at least one person being killed. In my book, no one is killed at all, although there is danger and mystery, and the characters in it manipulate and mess with each others' minds, so should it be psychological suspense?
Or something else?
What's the difference?
Any help would be great...


message 2: by Paige (new)

Paige P. Carranza (paigepcarranza) | 7 comments I think it would be safe to label it as a psychological thriller, especially if you think the reader's mind will be "messed with" so-to-speak.


message 3: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Well it depends really on whether it fits the "thriller" tag as well.

Genres are ephemeral things and their definitions have/will never been set in stone. But Wikipedia describes thrillers as being characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Successful examples of thrillers are the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

Probably the best way to figure out your book's genre for sales purposes is to try and find books you think yours fits in with (or those you want your book to be classified as similar) and mirror their genres.

That's not always easy to figure out, though.


message 4: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments Micah wrote: "Well it depends really on whether it fits the "thriller" tag as well.

Genres are ephemeral things and their definitions have/will never been set in stone. But Wikipedia describes thrillers as bein..."


That's certainly good advice, thank you. I was trying to do that earlier and in terms of tension and uncertainty, I was thinking Girl on the Train, but again that has murders in it.

I guess that's why I ended up wondering about how people see thrillers. Would you expect murder in a thriller? How is psychological suspense different from a psychological thriller? Google is only giving me vague answers.


message 5: by L.K. (new)

L.K. Chapman | 147 comments I have one book which I describe as a psychological thriller and one I usually describe as psychological suspense. I guess one of the differences is that in the thriller there is more of a sense of a physical threat to one of the character's lives as the book progresses and it is very fast paced. In the one I describe as suspense there is not really a sense of danger and though it is still fast-paced it is slightly more descriptive and it is more about unravelling mysteries.

Both books play around with who to trust and have twists and turns which seems to be a big part of the psychological genre. However, I don't actually read psychological thrillers as I don't like reading the same genre that I write!


message 6: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Petra wrote: "How is psychological suspense different from a psychological thriller?"

"Psychological suspense" in Wikipedia redirects to psychological thriller." :D

Though it's tough to find a thriller without a murder, I think it's possible. Take for example the movie Gaslight (1944). It opens with a murder having just taken place but I don't think you see the murder. The rest of the film has no murder but lots of psychological suspense. If the motivation for the plot had been something plausible but not murder, it could have worked as well I think.

In films, though, I think the urge would be to put such a story in the psychological drama classification rather than thriller. A film kind of like that is The Fallen Idol (1948, aka The Lost Illusion) directed by Carol Reed. There's an accidental death in it which is being investigated as suspicious, but the bulk of the movie is psychological drama.


message 7: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 132 comments Can you show us the blurb?


message 8: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments Sure, so long as that doesn't count as self promotion (I won't include a title, and it's not released yet, so hopefully ok).

'Deirdre’s search for meaning leads her to a cult filled with bizarre rituals and chilling psychological manipulation, headed by a charismatic female leader. Learning that humanity is crashing towards doomsday and that only the believers can stop it, she abandons autonomy, free will and finally her morals to the fight. Deirdre gains importance in the cult, but cynicism and manipulation grow as it spreads its message to the outside world, and she starts to wonder: is the whole faith built on lies?'


message 9: by L.K. (new)

L.K. Chapman | 147 comments Could it be psychological horror?


message 10: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 132 comments Ok, I looked up a book with a similar theme, and reviewers call it "psychological drama" which I agree with based on your blurb. A way around this (and to cover all bases) would be to make sure you have keywords like 'thriller' and 'mystery' on Amazon so that it comes up under those categories.
(I do this by adding "Christian" and "clean" so that my romance targets certain audiences despite the fact that I don't have any quotes from scripture.)


message 11: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments Jenna wrote: "Ok, I looked up a book with a similar theme, and reviewers call it "psychological drama" which I agree with based on your blurb. A way around this (and to cover all bases) would be to make sure you..."

Brilliant, thank you Jenna, that helps a lot. I think psychological drama sums it up.

L.K. - I see it could sound like horror from the blurb, but it's not quite sinister enough for that, thank you for the idea though.

Thanks to everyone for the input


message 12: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 530 comments If you go to 'Browse' at the top of our pages, drop down to 'explore', it will take you to a page with genres on it.

I've just chosen Historical Fiction and it takes you to a page where it gives a description of the genre.

https://www.goodreads.com/genres/hist...

I've found this helpful.


message 13: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 59 comments Petra wrote: "Jenna wrote: "Ok, I looked up a book with a similar theme, and reviewers call it "psychological drama" which I agree with based on your blurb. A way around this (and to cover all bases) would be to..."

Hi Petra. I described my book as "psychological" on Amazon, meaning it had some psychological undercurrents, and it has some emotional suspense involved, even though it did not involve much physical danger, and their automated process put it into "thriller" category. I don't think it belongs there at all, but have had trouble getting that changed. I have learned that one has to be careful what terms one uses, or your book can appear where you don't intend it to, leading to disappointed readers. It doesn't help that they lump suspense in with mystery and thriller. Suspense is a bit accurate, but a far cry from thriller. And "psychological" can mean a host of different things.


message 14: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments Carmel wrote: "Petra wrote: "Jenna wrote: "Ok, I looked up a book with a similar theme, and reviewers call it "psychological drama" which I agree with based on your blurb. A way around this (and to cover all base..."

That sounds frustrating! Disappointing readers was the thing I was worrying about, I don't want people to feel tricked. I'll have to be careful with categories on Amazon, it seems like a bit of a minefield.


message 15: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 132 comments I feel like it's not tricking if it's in that 'grey area' of genres. For example, a reader of Christian historical romance isn't going to mind that my romance has 'Christian' as a keyword because of the ideas presented in my book, and the fact that it's clean - something that Christian romance readers particularly are looking for.
In the same vein of thought, a psychological drama is listed and people are interested...then you can add mystery, which it is on some level, and thriller, which will attract the thriller readers. They can then read the blurb and see if it's what they're looking for, but again, I'd assume those readers would want your books. "Psychological" (in my opinion) is the big key word here, everything else is all about getting the variety of readers to look at the book's page to see if they're interested.
After all, I enjoy a good mystery, but I pass on a good 80% of mysteries that Amazon suggests. And yet, a new favorite author came along as a recommendation, so, sometimes it works.
Just some thoughts. Good luck!


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