ThillerFest was busting at the seams with the industry’s legends and heavy hitters, including legendary names like Sandra Brown and this year’s Thriller Master Nelson DeMille, along with the creators of beloved famous characters like Rambo, Dr. Temperance Brennan, and Sookie Stackhouse.
The four-day event was crammed to the brim with presentations, panels and author interviews. We’ve got recap articles in the works for a more in-depth look at top takeaways on character, platforming and the writer’s life, but here are some of the top quotes from the industry greats:
“If you screw this up, you’re done.”
—Steve Berry, on story structure
“All things being equal, the thing that will set a story apart is how it’s told.”
“Done right, setting is a character in its own right.”
“A big thriller looks like an elephant but has to run like a gazelle.”
“Everything that has happened to me has been lucky, and pretty much an accident.”
“It’s so important to have a team around you.”
—Sara Blaedel, on the benefits of traditional publishing
“If you’re not getting rejected, you’re not trying hard enough.”
If you like long hours in solitude, emotional turmoil, constant self-criticism and bouts of heart-wrenching disappointment you’ll make a good writer. And if you can actually tell an engaging story, you might just make a great one.
This is really only a glimpse at a few of the top highlights I was able to catch from an incredible and jam-packed event. The full event—including CraftFest, Master CraftFest, PitchFest, CareerFest, and of course, ThrillerFest—can hardly be summed up in an article, but these reflect the spirit and minds at work throughout this massive industry event.
I can’t resist leaving you with one last quote to close, a reflection from David Corbett on the attending writers:
“I think Master CraftFest, as well as CraftFest and ThrillerFest, attract a particularly serious, committed, determined group of aspiring writers, and their enthusiasm, devotion to craft, and curiosity made my job a joy.”
By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.