Thriller Types and Tropes

Matt Bird is back for a breakdown of the thriller genre. We discuss transgression / noir thrillers, conspiracy thrillers, action thrillers and more. No need to pay for an MFA program. This episode is a graduate-level class that will benefit writers of all genres, not just thrillers.

Films and TV Shows we mention:

Direct Download Link for the episode

More about this show, for new listeners:

In The Narrative Breakdown, Cheryl Klein, James Monohan, and other guest co-hosts discuss storytelling tips and techniques of interest to any writer, student, or fan of quality creative writing, screenwriting, playwriting, fan fiction, English literature, etc. Each episode, Cheryl and James draw upon their respective experiences in publishing and filmmaking to analyze popular novels, movies, plays, television shows, short stories, and song lyrics. Featuring various co-hosts and writers, as well as material from Cheryl Klein’s book ‘Second Sight’ and James’ iPhone / iPad app ‘The Storyometer.’


14 Responses to “Thriller Types and Tropes”

  1. Gillian Wade August 11, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    I just discovered this podcast while plodding through a night of insomnia. Pretty soon, I couldn’t sleep because I was so damned excited. A new writer, I’ve found the information in these casts to be of infinite value. I finished a first draft of a novel, and the cast about revisions filled me with hope, a game plan, and more methods than I ever could have dreamed of. I am so totally looking forward to new episodes as they come along. Thanks so much, y’all!

    • James August 13, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

      Thanks Gillian! And congrats on completing your first draft!

  2. Michael August 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Another great and very insightful episode. Loved hearing Matt Bird’s genius. The stuff about the first Terminator movie was really interesting. Look forward to the next episode!

    I have a question connected to that movie and the Fugitive concerning the discussion of reactive and proactive characters–and how your hero should be the only one to be able to solve his/her story’s conflict.

    Question: Many zombie movies are completely reactive, where the cast of characters never try to solve or fix the zombie apocalypse. Would these movies be better if part of the story was the group trying to resolve the larger zombie event? Or can it be just as satisfying and entertaining to not have them attempt that?

    PS – I love the talk about deus ex machina in Raiders. I wanted to add, I thought there was an extra interesting layer when Indie tells Marion for them to close their eyes when the ark is opened. It’s kind of a character turning point in that he was more skeptical in the beginning and he believed in the end.

    • James August 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the ep.

      Your zombie question called to mind World War Z. Did you see that?

      Brad Pitt is escorting a scientist to investigate the roots of the zombie disease and the scientist accidentally shoots himself (ha!). But from then on Brad seems very proactive I think. He could have gone home. But, he chooses to continue the pursuit of the solution himself (even though he’s not a scientist), ultimately coming up with an important theory and putting his life at risk to test it.
      It was a simple plot, but I enjoyed it more than the usual zombie flicks.

      I guess in the monster movies we most like, the protagonist usually moves from defensive moves to offensive moves. They have to solve the problem. The monster can’t just trip on its shoelaces and accidentally impale itself.

      Most of the characters usually play defense or play stupid until they’re killed. But then ultimately, the hero/heroine usually has to be more proactive to defeat the monster or we’re not going to care as much.

      Those are my initial thoughts anyway.

      Matt Bird, feel free to weigh in!

      And thanks for listening Michael!

      • Michael August 14, 2013 at 12:02 am #

        Hey James,
        Thanks for the reply. I haven’t gotten around to seeing World War Z yet, but that makes a lot of sense.

        Yeah, I’ve been loving the podcast since I discovered it. I find it very helpful. Keep up the good work.

  3. Lauren August 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Hello! I must say I absolutely adore this podcast! I’m still a few episodes back and will be bummed when I can’t listen to your insight every day at work. Anyway, I was wondering if you guys might cover a topic for me (or two!). I’m a novelist like yourselves, but adore video game writing as well. Is it possible you guys may be able to talk about game writing? I was also wondering about book endings. I’m getting close to sending my novel off to an agent, but since my Gillian’s motives aren’t exactly obvious until he explains them to his soon-to-be accomplice, I was wondering how to write that ending explanation with some class. If that makes sense, great! :) can’t wait to listen to more of your podcasts,

  4. Anne Buzzini August 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Thank you sooo much for the great information and viewpoints. This was my first podcast on writing and I am amazed at how much I assimilated from it. Into the archives I go!

  5. Eli September 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    I’m a huge fan of the show and I’m jonesing for new episode. Its been too long.

    • James September 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      Sorry. We do have another episode to put up. But things are a bit hectic right now. Within two weeks. Hopefully sooner.

      • Eli September 5, 2013 at 7:29 am #

        No problem, I understand. Your show is worth the wait. I honestly think your show is the best writing podcast out there. Its a fun yet professional show with great insights.I just wish there were more podcasts like The Narrative Breakdown.

  6. Bob Miller September 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    hey, I miss you two!
    Everyday I check for a new podcast.
    You have the best writing podcast on the net. i’ve listened to them all.
    And i listen to your podcasts repeatedly.
    This last one on Thriller Types was great!

  7. Eli September 18, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Your killing me James. How much longer until the new episode?

  8. Tim Byers October 16, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Found your podcast using Podcatcher on my Android phone. Loved this episode. Subscribed immediately. I love that you get right to it and don’t ramble around like so many podcasts. Most of all, the content is rock-solid. Will be enjoying the “back issues!”


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    […] The Narrative Breakdown’s episode on Thriller Types and Tropes (starring Matt Bird) […]

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