Monday, May 01, 2006

50 Things You Won't Find in THE MARK

I was going to post this tomorrow, but I figured I'd give readers something extra in case they didn't have the time or desire to read JOHN GILLIS (see my posts from this morning and over the weekend). So here's something lighter, since you can only justify so many smoke/lunch/bathroom breaks during the day.

Anyways, when I wrote my first thriller, THE MARK, I wanted to give fans of the genre something they could sink their teeth into, but also leave behind what I felt were some tired genre conventions. So here is my list of 50 things you won't find in THE MARK. Just remember, I kid because I care.

1) A dog that, previously assumed to be dead, comes racing through the flames and into the hero’s arms.
2) Evil Colombians who snort “yay-yo” and have bad mustaches.
3) A hard-ass police chief who growls to the good cop, “If I have to defend your shenanigans to the commissioner one more time…”
4) A character who uses the words “dude,” “cat,” “reefer,” “yo,” “shizzle,” or “bling” without ridiculous amounts of irony. And even then, their irony must be ironic.
5) A character who coughs for no apparent reason other than to foreshadow their eventual death from some flesh-eating bacteria.
6) A female who clutches the arm of the hero, lower-lip trembling.
7) A male protagonist named “Brick,” “Sarge,” “Mike,” “Stone,” “Johnson,” “Steel,” “Steele,” “Stiehl,” “Buck,” “Indiana,” or “Hardcastle.”
8) A ticking clock where the clock expires by chapter 10, and the hero has to find the guys who set the stupid clock.
9) Bad guys who refuse to kill an enemy by reasoning, “We might need a hostage.” Then again, Jack Bauer would have died on the first episode of “24” if the show had these rules.
10) Bad guys with a hideous scar on their face, because their evilness is so evident the author needs to whack you across the face with a metaphorical two-by-four.
11) A sidekick whose sole purpose is comic relief. This is akin to the author admitting, “My hero is boring as hell, so I’m going to create a character whose sole purpose is to receive Phil Hartman-esque slow burns.”
12) Sex scenes that take place right after a gruesome death or while the characters are on the run from a killer who's one step behind them (but stops for dinner to allow them time to get it on).
13) Serial killers who leave no trace of evidence or DNA because they’re just too damn smart (these killers must wear hairnets and gloves like your high school lunchlady).
14) Anyone who says, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
15) A narrator who doubles as a pop culture expert, and compares each crime or murder to a a movie, t.v. show or book (“The sadistic killer made Hannibal Lecter look like he was an extra on Teletubbies.”)
16) The hero’s best friend who happens to be a martial arts/demolitions expert, does all the dirty work, and seems to live in a world where nobody stops to ask them where they got the Chinese throwing stars and land mines.
17) Ridiculously unnecessary product placement (“Brick Johnson was listening to the Black Eyed Peas on his iPod while sipping a Pepsi Twist while a pair of comfortable Dockers supported his muscular posterior…”)
18) Exposition that occurs awkwardly within conversation. (“So Jim, are you still working as an accountant with Barton & Hedges and dating Kimberly Vale, the former model-turned-actress with whom you’ve had three children?”)
19) A story that begins with a character literally tripping over a dead body, who then decides to investigate it (what are the odds of literally tripping over a body, unless you live in Mogadishu?).
20) Anyone who says, “Talk to the hand,” “peace out,” or “whatever” (unless it’s used as part of a longer sentence, or intended with at least six layers of irony).
21) Cops or Secret Service agents yelling “Go, go, go!” into walkie talkies.
22) A Scooby Doo ending, where the bad guy turns out to be some completely inconsequential background character, or even worse, some character who didn’t even exist before that moment (“Aha! It’s Bruce Bayless’s twin brother Bob Bayless, the one who escaped from the mental institution all those years ago!)
23) On that note, nobody will ever say, “Aha!”
24) A Deus Ex Machina, where the good guy is painted so tightly into a corner that only an act of God (or plotting) can save him/her.
25) Cars that won’t start as the killer tries to open the door (this is worse if they have a hook for a hand).
26) Cell phones whose batteries die in the middle of a car chase.
27) Threat of nuclear Armageddon brought on solely because the President says, “If we don’t act they’ll think we’re cowards, and it will be open season on the United States.”
28) Characters who become evil out of nowhere for inexplicable reasons (See: Sherry Palmer in the first season of 24. Are you trying to tell us that in their 25 years of marriage, this was the first time David Palmer noticed his wife was a cold, calculating bitch?)
29) Rippling biceps.
30) Heaving bosoms.
31) Genitalia referred to with words that sound like military phalluses (purple-headed warrior, love rocket, etc…).
32) Politicians who do evil things because…well, because they’re just evil by nature. Like nobody noticed this while they were running for office.
33) A cop who contemplates retirement right before taking on a case involving some brutal axe-slaying murderer.
34) P.I.s or regular schlubs who allow themselves to be seduced by beautiful women (with insanely rich, stuffed-shirt honky husbands) and never once think there’s something fishy going on.
35) People who silently quiver in fear when the killer approaches, instead of doing what any normal person would do and scream their motherloving head off.
36) Car chases in New York, Los Angeles, or any other densely populated city where it takes normal people half an hour to drive ten blocks.
37) A killer whose nickname doubles as a children’s nursery rhyme.
38) A time bomb whose creators were thoughtful enough to make the timer with big red legible numbers.
39) Buxom blondes.
40) Spunky redheads.
41) Chiseled physiques.
42) Dialogue attribution that makes no sense (“That’s funny,” she laughed).
43) Dialogue attribution with adverbs that would make Clive Cussler throw a fit (“I see what you’re saying,” he said ergonomically).
44) Characters who scream, “NOOOOOO!”
45) Characters who don’t possess an inner monologue. (“I wonder why the killer would feed his cat Kibbles N’ Bits,” she said thoughtfully).
46) Celebrities who have walk-on cameos, and/or dialogue.
47) A killer whose whole modus operandi is copycatting other famous killers.
48) Killers who, at the end of the book when they’ve been unmasked, instead of fleeing the country kidnap the hero’s family/friends because now it’s personal.
49) Characters under the age of 30 who say Rad, Excellent, Awesome, Bodacious or Gnarly without irony (or happen to be Bill or Ted).
50) Cops who inspect a crime scene and say, “These guys are professionals.”

15 Comments:

Blogger Bryon Quertermous said...

Without these elements, what else do you have to hold your story together? You'd have to rely on well-developed characters, fresh plotting, and imagination. Who wants that?

1:20 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

That's why my novel clocked in at a whopping 2.5 pages, which took me seven years to write.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

But those 2.5 pages are the salt of the literary earth!

2:46 PM  
Blogger S. W. Vaughn said...

Great list! You left out the aliens in chapter 14, though. :-)

Peace out (with a whopping eight layers of irony),
-S

12:18 PM  
Blogger David Terrenoire said...

Let's see:
Sidekick. Check.
Evil bastard. Check.
Car chase in a metropolitan area. Check.

But I have monkeys. I didn't see monkeys in the list.

1:31 PM  
Blogger John R. said...

"These guys are professionals, dude," Bodacious Steele said thoughtfully, looking at the mutilated corpse in front of him. The guy's Levi's were the only things not ripped to shreds - presumably saved by their hard-wearing fabric. The words 'THE THREE LITTLE PIGS' had been painted on the wall nearby in blood.

"But Steele," Jennifer's hand was trembling where it gripped his arm; the grisly scene seemed to have shaken her badly. "You can't take this case now. You're supposed to be retiring next week, then going on that yacht cruise around the Caribbean with your handicapped cousin Frank. Remember? I have a bad feeling about this."

Steele coughed. "Whatever."

4:56 AM  
Blogger John R. said...

(That incredibly late comment brought to you by the slack updating hands of Bryon, who only just posted a link.)

4:57 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I always thought it would be great fun to write a book or make a movie using only the most ridiculous cliches imaginable (kind of like what the South Park guys did with "Team America").

I think John's off to a great start, keep writing!

2:54 PM  
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2:50 AM  

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