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Mystery, Thriller/Suspense, and Crime Genre Descriptions


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#1 AQCrew

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 09:38 AM

Mystery:

Mysteries typically focus on the process of solving a crime, rather than the details of the crime itself. The puzzle behind the crime is central to the plot. Amateurs or professional investigators perform the sleuthing, and often a single protagonists or a whole host of characters recur in popular serial titles.

Unlike crime/true crime fiction which explores the world of the criminal mind, mystery focuses on the investigators or detectives determined to bring the criminal to justice. The strong “mystery” narrative behind the crime is a trademark of this genre. Subgenres include cozies, historicals, culinary, detective, supernatural, caper, women in peril, noir, detective fiction, and classic whodunits. Mystery is also a member of the general grouping of “genre fiction,” “mainstream fiction,” “category fiction,” and "mass market" fiction.


Thriller/Suspense:

The dramatic conflicts of thrillers/suspense are fraught with peril: a life-threatening danger that jeopardizes the protagonist, his or her loved ones, or even the whole world. The stakes are often large—death and destruction to lives, the downfall of an entire nation, an ecological disaster. However, thrillers can also simply portray riveting psychological tension between two opposing characters. Thrillers and suspense fiction are paired together because thrillers often utilize suspense elements in the development of the story—evil lurking just around the corner that motivates the protagonist to hunt down and capture the villain-at-large.

Although both thrillers and mysteries often involve the protagonist solving a crime and bringing bad guys to justice, the central conflict of thrillers/suspense focuses on developing an urgent sense of imminent jeopardy rather than solving a mystery or the detection of a crime. Thriller/suspense protagonists must win at all costs against a menacing, pernicious threat—or else things are going from bad to worse, and fast. Subgenres include psychological, supernatural, military, espionage, political, medical, legal, erotic and literary thrillers. Thriller/suspense is also included in the general grouping of “genre fiction,” “category fiction,” “mainstream” fiction,” or “mass market fiction.”



Crime Fiction:


Crime fiction centers its plot on the perpetration of a crime. There are two main subgenres of crime fiction: detective fiction and true crime. True crime focuses its story on the crime scene and the criminal mind. Lurid crime scenes, graphic violence, con games, organized crime, and the criminal underworld are all familiar elements in true crime fiction. Detective fiction, on the other hand, focuses its narrative on the professional or amateur investigators seeking to solve the crime and bring the criminal to justice.

Detective fiction involves “detection” of a crime. Detective fiction can be a subgenre of both mystery and crime fiction, depending on the type of characters doing the sleuthing, and the story’s emphasis on the “mystery" vs. the “crime”. Sub-genres of detective fiction include hard-boiled, noir, and police procedurals. For this reason, you often see this genre grouped together as crime/detective/true crime.

#2 kmcoile

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 04:48 PM

I have an unusual manuscript and am having trouble pinning down its genre. The protagonist is a thirty-something female animal cruelty officer who is tracking down animal abusers, but ends up in a race to save a kidnapped child (same perpetrators). The perpetrators are teenagers, manipulated by a young assistant teacher who is in her early twenties. I have a mix of mystery (you don't know who is the main perpetrator until far into the novel), then suspense b/c the child is kidnapped and near death, but also involves young adults so I've had a few suggest I look at young adult. Any ideas out there? I'm thinking mystery b/c the focus is solving the crimes, but a lot of it would appeal to young adults but for the protagonist being older...thanks for your advice in advance!

#3 Late Bloomer

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 07:16 PM

Sounds like a good match with young adult to me.

#4 kmcoile

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 07:57 PM

Thanks - I am just worried that no YA has a protagonist that is older so it's a bit of a risk, but it does have a lot of teenager plot lines...appreciate the advice!

#5 Lanette Kauten

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:30 AM

I agree that it's not YA because the MC is an adult. It sounds like a thriller to me. You can have mystery in a thriller, but the genre of mystery usually focuses on solving the murder (although, not necessarily), and once that's solved the story is wrapped up. From what you told us, it sounds more like the focus is rescuing the child, which would make it a thriller.

#6 InspiredCrime

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 08:04 PM

I have written a novel inspired by a $12 billion fraud in the technology business. It follows how the seller committed the fraud as well as how and why the buyer bought it. It then follows the FBI investigation to the conclusion. (107k)

The Hero's journey follows a quest pattern arc. The Villain is from a mob family. I have written the prequel (103k) to this story based upon another tech crime. (Also unpublished)

Since both novels includes both white collar crimes as well as regular crimes (Bribery, murder, etc) what is the genre?

If I read the post above correctly - is it true crime?



#7 Late Bloomer

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 08:38 PM

best of luck with them, Inspired!



#8 mickey2012

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Posted 23 October 2014 - 03:10 AM

Hey I am new here. I am currently working on my book it is called Foundation of Eternity and it is a thriller/ suspense. 

 



#9 mickey2012

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Posted 23 October 2014 - 03:10 AM

Hey I am new here. I am currently working on my book it is called Foundation of Eternity and it is a thriller/ suspense. 

 






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