Good writer vs great storytellers of mystery and thrillers

Good writer vs. great storytellers of mystery and thrillers


*After Henry’s death, Elizabeth vowed to find his murderer. Blah, blah, blah.

For me some stories start out the same. By the first page, you already know how it’s going to turn out, same story as the last mystery murder book you read. I enjoy twist and turns. Within the first page, grab me with something that will blow me away and make me turn the page.

By the second page, give me an unanswered question that I won’t want to put the book down until I know the answer.

By the third page pull me into the life of a person, allow me to feel the emotion of what that person is feeling.

By the forth page make the movie reels in my mind play out the scenes with descriptive visions, senses and awareness of what is happening with characters and their surroundings.

If the first page of a book I open reads like the above sentence*, I might put it back down but if it’s changed a little differently, more interesting I’ll keep reading.

After Elizabeth killed Henry, she vowed to erase his remains, as if Henry never existed. In the elaborate scheme of planning the meal for the other executives she cooked up what some people thought was the most delicious meal yet.

Fleshless bones become the ashes to fire. She thought as she raised her glass for the final toast of the evening.

I would keep reading this story. Why? Because for one, women who kill don’t cook their victims for others to enjoy and for another I want to know why she would do such a manic crime. Plus as much as it sounds like a gross thriller, it also sounds more interesting than the same old murder mystery. What made her kill Henry and why would she cook him and serve him to apparently well to do executives?

Who is Henry and what did he do to Elizabeth? Even if someone else killed Henry, from the first above sentence, and Elizabeth wanted to find his murderer, we already know there were a crime and a person of interest. So there for the investigation begins. Questions, people places to visit. It can all be interesting if you enjoy a repeat of the same crime drama elements.

There are so many ways to take an age-old mystery and change it to a more interesting page turning, nail biting thriller. Don’t let the ending of a great story be predictable at the beginning of a good story.



T. Wharton Johnson Author of  The Eye of Lies and other short stories.


Writing Prompts that inspire

writing prompt

I love these writing prompts from iAuthor on Twitter. It’s true a picture can tell a thousand words so when given the inspiration of a photo to write the first line, or maybe the middle or end of a story, the juices flow for the insanely sick minds of writers. Lol. A fun way to start the day. Watch out world my mind is open now and ready to create a horror of events. #awritersworld #loveit

Here’s my first line for the picture prompt:

As I awoke from under my bed, I realized the sound of the beating heart wasn’t mine.

The end of the beginning




Life doesn’t start at the end, so why am I compelled to write from the end? I don’t know the story, the beginning hasn’t started and the middle is nowhere in sight. But the end, the end is interesting, intriguing and yet, the beginning can’t develop until the end.

A person’s life has to start from infancy but a story is different. A story can start from anywhere the writer wants the reader to begin. Confused? Me too. It’s like watching the end of a movie before watching the beginning. We’ve seen a few movies like that where the ending is shown before the movie starts to keep the watcher watching to see what happened in order to get to that point of the end. Follow me?

For me as a writer the end is the beginning of where I start a new story. I write backwards, from the end to the middle to the beginning. Sometimes I mix it up. I’ll write a chapter and either follow it by the next chapter or write something which leads up to the chapter I just wrote. It’s the way my mixed up brain functions in the world of fiction. I have those annoying finger tapping characters whispering to me at night. The floors creek beneath their buoyant glow as they dare my eyes to shut and sleep prevails. Wick emotions pray upon my dreams snatching the rest that’s much needed, so I rise. Their demands of a captivating story to reveal the evil intents of a twisted end, daring the reader to turn the page before darkness, the delusions real, and the hair on the nape of their neck salute the shadowy figure, which rest quietly behind them. Cool air escaping the pinched translucent lips of what once was a fleshed human.



T. Wharton Johnson is the author of The Eye of Lies and other short stories.

Watched by a ghost

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Living among the dead.

We all know ghostly spirits are out there, but do they know they are dead?

I have always believed in ghost after an experience as a child and later as a teen and adult but I’ve never caught an image on camera such as this one. While waiting on the school bus with my grandkids the other morning I had the eerie feeling we weren’t alone, it wasn’t the first time I had taken a picture in the dark at the same spot but this was bone chilling.

The other pictures were mere floating dust particles and a red eye from a rabbit. This picture however looks to be that of a person leaning on their hand staring at us. (The picture taken from the driver seat, over the dash to the right.) I enhanced the picture in a blue hue so it can be seen better. Some people, paranormal investigators as well, have said it looks like a woman with dark hair. Her hand to her chin, you can almost see fingertips and others have said it looks like a person with their head titled slightly in the same position, with their hand to their chin, the other arm lying on top of the hood of the car. There were three photos taken at the time of this image, the other two images showed nothing. Once the bus came, I hurried back up the driveway and into the house, where I shut and locked the door. Chills crept up my spine the rest of the day. The next morning I embraced the kids, along with a bb gun for protection. Okay don’t laugh my bb gun is powerful and loud, not that it would hurt the ‘thing’ but I felt safe.

As for the body buried under the house, well…, that reminds to be “seen,” I for one don’t want to conjure up any more evils that already exist on the property.


Lurking among the living


While relaxing in the pool I focused on the wooden fence that separated us from our neighbor. The knotty boards have long been neglected, worn, and weathered. Eyes peered from those boards that held my attention. The eyes of a cat embedded within a board and other looking creatures that seemed to be peering from the flat surfaces.


Wow what a great thriller this would make from creatures that come alive after dark as they morph from the wooden fence and creep around through the night. Watching a person’s every move they learn to communicate and do other task while the living goes about their life. But what happens when those creatures refuse to go back in their place among the fence. The devil himself couldn’t pull off a better plot then to let loose on a neighborhood of unruly teenagers that had thrown rocks and balls for years at that fence. Practicing their fastball, soccer kicks and mastering their slingshots. The creatures had had enough and it was time for revenge.

But it made me think about something I read about characters.

“Characters can’t exist in a vacuum.”

Well, why can’t they? Sure it would be a tornado every few days and it would be like living in the dessert with very little to eat. Unless of course there is small children in the house. Lol. But who’s to say it has to be a human character. I’ve vacuumed up ants before and a bug I’m sure. A speck of dust like Horton Hears a Who….there ya go. A complete little village of characters can exist in a vacuum. Never say can’t in fiction anything is possible. Right? Think about the movie A Bugs Life or Ants.

But what the author meant on those words is that characters need to be three-dimensional. They must be put into situations that let them act and react. Not just, grow potatoes in the dusty canister of the vacuum. Boring. Move the story forward. To learn, live and grow. A village that took up home in an old vacuum would face the biggest challenge of survival when the whirlwind of a tornado comes from nowhere and wipes out there village that they worked hard to build. Can they work together again to rebuild it? Or will the human hands stand in their way?

Maybe the main character is weak and sees no point in rebuilding so he gives up. When the tornado of debris twirled about, half the village wiped out. What’s the point, his beautiful wife and children gone there’s no reason to rebuild. The other villagers, young and old band together. Their strength, hope, and faith in one another they try to convince their leader that then can rebuild and life restored.

Just like in real life, we have mountains to climb and bridges to rebuild. There will always be conflicts and resolutions. Life is ho-hum then suddenly conflict but it has to be ho-hum again so be resolve the conflict, sometimes it’s not so easy.

Why are the creatures in the boards relevant to the vacuum? Because as writers we’re always looking for that character that can bring a story to life and awakens our brains for story writing when the blank pages rest before us. So look around at the hundreds of objects that surround your everyday and think about where it’s been, where it came from, who touched it before you or what kind of story that object would tell if they could talk.

You never know, that eraser on the end of your pencil might just have some words of their own to say.

Hidden messages in books

As adults we struggle with daily life, relationships, jobs and such. For some of us the struggles start early. Memories of bumps in the night. Scary shadows and mean people. No matter where we came from or what our life was like as children we make choices that lead us on a path. Not always the right path but it’s still a path in life and like words that we can’t take back once spoken, we can’t walk backwards and erase the past.

We look for strength to move forward. Perhaps it’s though friends, parents, siblings, church, within ourselves or books. I wrote several hidden messages in The Eye of Lies. Have you deciphered any of them? If you’ve read the book then you might have noticed  numbers and quotes. (I’m not a numerologist but do believe in the meaning to numbers) When writing the book I connected with my characters closely.  Especially Journey, she became my hero.

An abused child, she held her head high and did what she could to survive. But it was the faith she had deep within her soul that kept her going each and everyday. In the story I added hidden meanings that helped make her a strong woman. Sometimes we as people over look the every day meaning to life. We wonder why GOD put us where we are today and what’s in store for us, even through bad times.

As most authors there’s more to a book then just a story, there’s messages. We read and put the books down, not giving it much thought as to why they wrote the book. What inspired the story. (Fiction) We fall in love with characters, the story line or scenes.

Like in the new movie Annie my favorite scene is when they fly over New York City in a helicopter. (Now added to my bucket list of things to do. lol) But it wasn’t just the scene, it was the message that was conveyed.

Next time you read a book take a minute and reflect on the meaning of the words. The dialogue of the characters and what the story meant to you, either as a writer or a reader.


Predicting a story ending

Don’cha just hate when TV. series ends with a cliffhanger. But that’s how the producers keep you coming back to watch the next season.

Same with books, the writer hooks you in with a page-turner, toss in some twist and finally when you think you have it figured out they throw in something unexpected.

Truthfully I hate reading a book or watching a movie or TV show and predict what’s about to happen.

It makes for a boring story. Same story different characters.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen or read something that WOWED me.

I have to admit thought that I watched the new hit show Secret and Lies-Cordele Confidential. It kept me hooked through the whole season but I knew from the first episode that it was little Abby that killed Tom. It was after all, predictable. Abby played a minor part that gave out big clues whilst bringing in other characters to throw off the story and keep you guesting at who done it. The show was great and I’d watch another season. With that said, I’ve been jotting notes for the next book in what I thought was the end of a story. My readers told me otherwise. After The Eye of Lies, released in October 2014, I’ve received numerous requests for more. My reaction was “more of what?”

My readers loved the twist and on the edge story that kept most of them from putting the book down. The ending of the book was unpredictable. The story was unpredictable and the characters, well, they fell in love with them.

I had not intended on writing another book to go with the first but per the request I’ve sat down and looked back on my notes to see where I could wavier from some leads and create another story. I surprised myself, saw that even a few of my minor characters could create action, and become major contributors to a storyline. Making the story, well, not so predictable.

(Rubbing my hands together scheming up another twisted mystery of thrills.)

Oh, and after watching a show last night with my daughter I was told I could not watch T.V with her anymore because I ruin it by predicting the ending, (sigh) she says I am always right. Lol

Death before birth

Before I wrote the Eye of Lies I had to create a main character for the story. I was asked by my instructor to first write the obituary of the character. Now how do you do that before you even know what you’re writing about? It was actually easier then I had thought. I created the person (female) and wrote about her life as I would have thought my female MC would be. From birth to death. I pulled apart her life, added the good things, job, school favorite foods, places, parents, and siblings. Where she lived and so on. By the time I was done I had the making of her profile and the beginning of a “friendship” she had become my favorite character. I created her life and it was a journey.  So as I revised the story, once I wrote it, I changed her name.

She became a character of inspiration and strength.  As people read the story they related very well to her and liked her as much as I did. Who knew you could create such an awesome character by burying them before they are even born. Lol