Quick Link: The Differences Between a Crime Novel, Mystery Novel and Thriller Novel

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There are so many new genres and subgenres that sometimes it is difficult to figure out where is the best place to put your book! If you were ever confused about the difference between a crime novel, thriller, and mystery novel check out Writer’s Digest for David Corbett’s post delving deeper into these genres and their various subgenres.

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The Differences Between a Crime Novel, Mystery Novel and Thriller Novel

Every writer’s job is to give the reader what she wants in a way she doesn’t expect. [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet and share it!] (And it’s wise to remember that every agent and editor is foremost a reader, too.)

One of the first things to consider when setting out, therefore, is what kinds of expectations your story creates, so you can go about gratifying readers in surprising ways.

This is particularly true of writing in a genre, where conventions can seem ironclad—or all too often degrade into formula. And formula, by definition, surprises no one.


This guest post is by David Corbett, who is the award-winning author of five novels, the story collection Killing Yourself to Survive and the nonfiction work, The Art of Character. David is a regular contributor to Writer’s Digest. He resides in Northern California with his wife and their Wheaten terrier. Find him online at davidcorbett.com.

Follow him on Twitter .


The suspense genres in particular have a number of seemingly hard and fast rules that a writer defies at his peril. And yet the most satisfying mysteries, thrillers and crime stories find a way to create a new take on those rules to fashion something fresh, interesting, original. In other words, while you don’t want to mistakenly pitch your cozy mystery to an agent who wants only high-octane thrillers, you also want to make sure that when you connect with that cozy-loving agent, she’ll be jumping to sign you because your cozy stands out from the rest.

Here’s a map to help you navigate subgenre subtleties.

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