Thriller/suspense - pacing

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  • #16
    Re: Thriller/suspense - pacing

    Originally posted by stvnlra View Post
    I'm not a big Hitchcock fan for various reasons. One: His movies always seemed sluggish to me. He worked mostly pre-1970s. You have to keep that in mind.

    I would study the more recent Suspense/Thrillers for hints on pacing. Stick to the thrillers from the 80s thru the present.

    When a thriller doesn’t work for me, it’s usually b/c they try & substitute creepiness and atmosphere for actual story & char dev.

    I can listen to that ubiquitous, “creepy, something’s gonna happen soon” music for only so long before I get bored.

    Something interesting/surprising should be happening right from the beginning… & then keep happening at regular intervals.

    And when i say "interesting", i mean interesting character stuff too!-- not just blood or gore or whatever.

    ~Laura



    If you think ROPE is sluggish pacing, my dear how can you expect people to take you seriously?
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    • #17
      Re: Thriller/suspense - pacing

      Originally posted by Angeloworx View Post
      I can't think of a character driven thriller for the life of me. It always depends on plot. Any movies/scripts you can think of that is character driven?

      Absolutely correct.

      Character driven and Thriller/Suspense do not sleep in the same bed together.

      That advice is out of place in this thread.
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      • #18
        Re: Thriller/suspense - pacing

        Originally posted by Angeloworx View Post
        I can't think of a character driven thriller for the life of me. It always depends on plot. Any movies/scripts you can think of that is character driven?
        1st off, i didn't say "character driven". That expression doesn't appear in my post.

        In my post i was separating char & plot (story) from other stuff such as mere atmosphere & blood/gore.

        When i wrote blood&gore I was thinking of SEVEN-type movies .... BASIC INSTINCT- type thrillers have only a bit of murder/blood/gore in them. As a substitute, they use sex.

        One of the points i was trying to make was that as writers we shouldn't sacrifice character dev for "pyrotechnics".... like bood, over-the-top killings, action etc...

        Like i said, i never used the expression "Char driven", but...

        ALL good thrillers have well developed, interesting char's. And to me, story & char are tied together.

        Why is STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (one of my fav Hitch movies) so fascinating? b/c of the "plot"? I don't think so.

        I find it fascinating b/c of the 2 char's. The relationship is what drives the story.

        Why is BASIC INSTINCT interesting???

        B/c of the interplay btwn Stone's char & Douglas' char.

        Why does SEVEN work???

        B/c of the relationship btwn Freeman & Pitt, and Pitt & his wife. The end gets its power from the characters, not from of all the gore that came before. You could tone down the gore & still get a v. good film.

        My main point is, as writers we have to develop the char's, and not just rely on creepy music, cool ways to kill/torture people, or the TWIST ending.

        Whatever the genre, good scripts still have to have well written char's & solid dramatic underpinnings.

        ~Laura

        "Trust your stuff." -- Dave Righetti, Pitching Coach

        ( Formerly "stvnlra" )

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        • #19
          Re: Thriller/suspense - pacing

          Originally posted by stvnlra View Post
          Like i said, i never used the expression "Char driven", but...

          ALL good thrillers have well developed, interesting char's. And to me, story & char are tied together.

          ~Laura
          I was genuinely asking if there is a Charater driven thriller and didn't ask it as a counterpoint. I guess there isn't a movie out there...

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          • #20
            Re: Thriller/suspense - pacing

            Originally posted by Angeloworx View Post
            I was genuinely asking if there is a Charater driven thriller and didn't ask it as a counterpoint. I guess there isn't a movie out there...
            Rope?

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            • #21
              Re: Thriller/suspense - pacing

              Originally posted by Angeloworx View Post
              I was genuinely asking if there is a Charater driven thriller and didn't ask it as a counterpoint. I guess there isn't a movie out there...
              Okay... I thought b/c you quoted me in your post that you were misunderstanding what i was saying, or misquoting me.

              If you're asking a sincere question for discussion, that's fine.

              Are there any "character driven" thrillers?

              How do you want to define char driven?

              Strictly speaking, all mainsteam thrillers are char driven b/c the through line-- the thing that propels the story forward-- is the goal of the protagonist. The plot itself depends on the protag & the various relationships s/he has w/ the other char's.

              But some Thrillers have simple plots, & others have more complex plots.

              The ones w/ complex plots have lots of characters, with various motives, & lots of twists/reversals & surprises. And possibly a big surprise ending.

              The ones with simple plots-- i guess you could call them "char driven"-- have few characters, few twists/reversals. Their plots are pretty straightforward.

              I think a few Hitchcock movies have simple plots & are mostly character pieces:

              PSYCHO, SHADOW OF A DOUBT, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN..... & ROPE

              Movies that have one char holding another hostage:

              DEATH & THE MAIDEN, CLOSETLAND, DESPERATE HOURS, HARD CANDY, etc...

              The various "stalker" movies:

              PLAY MISTY FOR ME, THE CRUSH, etc... Even FATAL ATTRACTION is basically just a domestic drama & has a fairly straighforward plot.

              So yeah, someone could make the argument there are character driven Thrillers. I guess it depends on the definition.

              ~Laura

              "Trust your stuff." -- Dave Righetti, Pitching Coach

              ( Formerly "stvnlra" )

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              • #22
                Re: Thriller/suspense - pacing

                When it comes to pacing, I don't think there's a formula, I do think however that
                your gut is a good guide, and if it feels long, it probably is too long, so how do you
                trim and get the pace going just right? I dunno, but I do know that Joel Silver's
                "punch-it-every-ten-minutes" is a good format to follow. It's got to get worse
                before it gets better mentality, that keeps up glued.

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