I’m currently part way through the line edits for my eighth psychological thriller (Her Last Holiday) and, naturally, I am thinking ‘What’s next?’
Some (possibly a lot) of authors get an idea for their next book part way through the first draft of the book they’re writing. Some are inundated with ideas.
I am NOT one of those writers.
I don’t have the headspace to come up with a new idea until after my book has been sent to my editor.
Once I’ve finished my line edits for Her Last Holiday I only have copy edits and page proofs to do until this book is done and dusted. And then I’ll have one month, maybe two, to come up with an idea for book nine and plot it.
My contracted deadline is 1st June 2021 so if I start writing it on 1st January I’ll have five months to write the draft that I deliver to my editor (let’s ignore the fact that it took me six months to write Her Last Holiday!)
So it’s quite important that I come up with an idea relatively soon.
But I haven’t got one.
Well, I have several ideas, all jotted down in my phone, but none of them are lighting a fire in me. I’m not desperate to write them, nor am I convinced that they are particularly original or exciting.
The trouble is, having written eight psychological thrillers so far, I’ve already covered a lot of ground in terms of the tropes in this genre.
The Accident – stalker / coercive ex
The Lie – toxic friendships / cults / ‘I know who you are’
The Missing – missing child / mental health issue
The Escape – mysterious stranger appears
The Fear – victim of a crime gets their revenge on their aggressor
Sleep – locked room mystery / stalker
Strangers – dead body. Who is it? Why are they dead? / letter from someone ‘dead’ / stalker
So what’s left? What type of psychological thriller trope haven’t I covered so far? Quite a lot as it turns out. I just did a quick brainstorm and this is what I came up with:
- Missing child/sibling/friend/husband/parents
- Missing child returns
- Escaping domestic abusive/coercive/controlling partner
- Gaslighting by friend/partner/family member
- Toxic friend/family member/coworker/in-law/ex
- The stalker – friend/ex-friend/stranger/relative
- The unreliable narrator – alcoholic/drugs/amnesia/mental health issue
- A letter/email/FB request from someone ‘dead’
- The serial killer partner/friend/relative
- Being set up for a crime you didn’t commit
- The Locked Room mystery – someone is dead/dies. Who in the group did it? Or who will die?
- ‘I know what you did’ threatening text/email/FB message threatens to reveal a secret from the past
- ‘I want what you’ve got’
- neighbours from hell / neighbourhood crime
- a stranger enters the main character’s life (possibly stranger with amnesia)
- my child/husband/friend/child committed a crime (I need to keep it secret)
- the covered up crime aka ‘we all have a secret’
- victim of a crime stalks their (or their child’s) aggressor
- Locked in/kidnapped and have to escape
What have I missed? Please let me know in the comments.
I’m not going to stress about the fact I don’t have a new idea yet. It’s hard enough to be creative as it is (thanks 2020) without me putting additional pressure on myself. It will come, in time, and probably when I least expect it.
P.S. The paperback of Strangers is published on 1st October. If you want to get your hands on a signed copy, made out to you, you have until 30th September to order one from independent bookshop Max Minerva’s. They can send them anywhere in the world!