“I often will write a scene from three different points of view to find out which has the most tension and which way I’m able to conceal the information I’m trying to conceal. And that is, at the end of the day, what writing suspense is all about.”– Dan Brown
Brown, born this day in 1964, has utilized the technique to perfection. His thrillers exude suspense and his readers flock to them, having purchased well over 200 million copies since his first success, The Da Vinci Code (also a highly successful highly successful movie), burst on the scene in 2003. Brown's novels are treasure hunts set in a 24-hour period, and feature the recurring themes of cryptography, keys, symbols, codes and, of course, conspiracy theories. They’ve been translated into 52 languages, and as of 2012, sold over 200 million copies.
While writing is his life it wasn’t that way until the mid-1990s when he was on vacation, read a thriller by Sidney Sheldon, and decided that’s what he really wanted to do. Up until then he had been a fairly successful musician, and was a singer, songwriter and pianist in Hollywood, where he also taught music at the prestigious Beverly Hills Preparatory School.
A member of the National Academy of Songwriters, he had been a frequent participant in that organization’s events, but once he made the move to be a writer he dropped music and went full bore into his new field – for which millions of readers are forever grateful.
Brown likes to use the real people in his life as key characters. And if you hang out with writer types, be prepared to either have your traits or your name, or both, show up from time-to-time. It’s a a great writing technique that every writer should consider and certainly helps answer that old question, “Where do you get your characters?”
When asked the secret to his success, he simply says, “Hard work. I still get up every morning at 4 a.m. I write seven days a week, including Christmas. I still face a blank page every morning, and my characters don’t really care how many books I’ve sold.”
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