Ever wonder about the difference between Thriller, Suspense, and Mystery? So many confusing labels. As a writer, it helps to know the difference as you plan your story arch. Thriller- you know will keep you on the edge of your seat, but why? And Mystery- do you enjoy figuring out who-done-it along with the protagonist? In case you were ever confused by the labels on books or movies, I hope to de-mystify the terminology for you today. (Pun intended!)

Thrillers are exciting and action packed, of course that’s why we love them!! The reason they keep you riveted, is that you and the characters know there is a horrible event about to take place. As you-and the characters-find out about this disaster “beyond all imagination” the characters have to go against the clock and against all odds to stop said event from occurring. Of course these characters will have obstacles along the way. and perhaps it looks like the disaster is going to occur despite their efforts. In the end, our hero or heroine saves the day. The roller coaster clicks to the end of the line.

Suspense can be just as fun. In this case, the reader may suspect, or even know that there’s something terrible about to happen. But in many cases, the protagonist doesn’t have to know. In Suspense, the protagonist could be solving a crime where our writer has carefully placed a suspicious character in the scene. We don’t know what’s going to happen, the characters don’t know either. But someone has a plan. And we aren’t sure how it will end.

Mystery is another genre entirely. And unto that, there are many sub-genres. Cozy, crime, don’t forget YA and Science Fiction. All have the same basic story arch though. In Mystery, a crime has been committed. An object has been found. A body has been discovered. The story evolves where our characters have to figure out the Who? What? and Why? about said object or crime. This type of adventure can have many twists and turns as the mystery is uncovered. It is suspenseful and can be a thrill ride too. No wonder these labels are so confusing!

In Mystery, the crime has already occurred. In Suspense, the characters have no idea! And as far as Thriller goes, they have to stop the disaster before if happens.

I hope I have given you something to think about in your writing.Good luck and good writing!

© 2015 TSP

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