Categories of Suspense: Techno-Thriller

We’re to the last post in this mini-series, Categories of Suspense, as outlined by T. Macdonald Skillman’s book, WRITING THE THRILLER. Today’s topic is Techno-Thriller.

This category is also easily explained. “Technology drives the plot,” Skillman says. Think of THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER by Tom Clancy. The reader didn’t need to understand the submarine’s caterpillar drive, but the story wouldn’t have been the same without it. Most books in this category rely heavily on scientific advances in weaponry or spy gear.
Knowledge and research on the writer’s part are critical in this category. Readers are unforgiving if you offer them something completely implausible. Using theoretical stuff is allowed, but “no quirky gimmicks or Star Trek-like transporter beams–unless they’ll likely become reality in the very near future. Span too many years of technology and you’ll wind up writing science fiction,” Skillman says. So be careful, writers. You don’t need a specialized education, but you do need a great imagination and some research skills.

Other titles in this category include THE TIN MAN by Dale Brown, FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER by Stephen Coonts, the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell, and the P.J. Gray series by Shirley Kennett.

That wraps up this discussion on categories of suspense. Hopefully, you found something worthwhile within them. At the least, you’ve found a name for the genre you’re writing. For what it’s worth,


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