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What you read years ago can come to your aid as a writer years later. Fear is the key I needed and I


One of the most common pieces of advice offered to those wanting to write goes something to this effect: write, write, write and if you get stuck writing then read. I was a voracious reader when I was young. (I still am, although my time is much more limited these days so I'm far more selective in my choice of reading matter). After all, if you're reading you can't be writing at the same time and vice-versa.

I'm not going into why reading is comprehensive in helping a writer hone their skills. This should be self-evident if you're serious about being an author. No, it's the functional idea or device they employ in their writing that one day, perhaps years in the future, you may find useful yourself.

Fear is the key, the title of this best selling Sixties thriller, is not only striking. It also contains an important plot ingredient revealed towards the end of the story. This reveal makes the whole narrative clarity itself because fear is the key that unlocks the mystery. My interest in the title has nothing to do with MacLean's thriller per se; I'm not writing a thriller. As a statement, however, the title offers my central character the motivation to act in a particularly philosophical way. How does he choose to act if the only way left open to him is through the use of extreme intimidating violence?

If I hadn't read MacLean's novel as a fourteen year old I wouldn't have considered fear as a key idea and ingredient for a chapter. Fifty-four years later I have. Thank you Mr MacLean for planting the seed of the idea.


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