Hi, my name is Don Helin. I grew up in Minneapolis and entered the army after college. During my time in the military, I served in a number of assignments in the United States and overseas including eight years in the Pentagon. These assignments gave me a chance to see much of our wonderful country as well many areas of the fascinating world we live in. It also gave me ample material for my thriller novels.
During my time in the military I loved to write, but most of my writings were position papers that only the officer making the decision or the guy waiting for that decision cared about. However, as I was preparing to leave the military, I attended an eight-week seminar on travel writing presented by the Washington Post. What a difference that course made for me. Imagine, traveling to fun places all over the world and getting paid for it.
I spent four years as a travel writer before the itch to write thrillers became overpowering. I've always enjoyed reading thrillers and I thought, “Hey, I can do that”. Of course, like anything else, it's harder than it looks, but if you stick to it you can do it. It took about five years before I received that wonderful call from the acquisitions editor at Medallion Press telling me they'd like to publish my novel, THY KINGDOM COME. My wife thought I was nuts dancing around the kitchen with the phone in my hand. Maybe I was a little nuts, but it felt good.
Since that time, I've joined a number of writers organizations, attended writers conferences, and joined two critique groups. All of these efforts have helped me improve and led to the publication of my second thriller, DEVIL'S DEN, this past fall.
You can do it too if you're willing to work on your writing skills.
I believe the most often overlooked character in a novel is the villain. Authors spend a great deal of time developing their hero, but what about the villain? Is he a match for your hero? Without that even match, much of the conflict in the novel is lost, and readers will quickly lose interest.
The secret of writing a successful novel is holding your readers gripped in a slowly rising conflict. And to me, the secret of a slowly rising conflict is to think in terms of attacks and counterattacks, as if the evenly-matched protagonist and antagonist were conducting a war. Maybe that's just my military background, but for me it works. Things to think about as you're creating your bad guy:
Does your villain challenge the hero and develop conflict for your story?
Does he make sense to your reader even if the reader disagrees with what he does?
Is he understandable to your readers so they can follow his motivations and actions?
Try this with your villain and see how you do. I look forward to hearing from you.
About the Author
During Don Helin's time in the military, he spent eight years in the Pentagon. Those assignments provide the background for his thrillers. Don's novel, Thy Kingdom Come, was published in March 2009. His latest thriller, Devil'sDen was published in September 2012. He lives in central Pennsylvania where he is hard at work on his next thriller, Red Dog. Please visit Don at his website www.donhelin.com.