Newport Beach, California - A small child who lives next door to one of America's most prolific thriller writers, made a startling discovery when he went to Koontz's backyard to retrieve his ball.
He found what he thought was a "Mad Lib", but what his father soon realized was "gold". It was nothing less than a template that would allow the endless cranking out of thrillers that Koontz has apparently followed religiously since 1968. What's more, the "blanks" as to plot and such were predominantly filled in.
The father, desiring that everyone be able to share the success that his neighbor has had, and also hoping to see even more formulaic thrillers out there, is publishing the template so that now anyone can write one.
Here is the Koontz Lib:
Plot: Something evil, with no redeeming value, is chasing someone good. The someone good will encounter an opposite sex someone, and they will forge a relationship in adversity. They will almost die, but win in the end, coming out stronger and overcoming some of their own past demons.
Themes: Conservative Christian Republicanism in the heroes. Wishy washy liberalism and secular humanism in the evil or weak. Jam in dialogue or reminiscences involving your own personal commentary as to how far our society has declined. Characters must be black or white, no middle ground.
Good Characters: Male will always be a veteran, or have some other past or current military or police experience. Will be tough, but gentle, able to handle anything, yet needing a good woman to love, will wrestle with his personal demons, and need that woman to get through his barriers to reach the tender part of his heart. Female will always have had some background of abuse or trauma, but in spite of that will be sweet and kind, but fearful of being burnt. She will be smart and resourceful, but defer to the male, and refocus her efforts not on solving the problem, but on solving the male's problems, so that he can protect them both.
Bad Characters: Absolutely amoral psychopaths who usually live in very detailed fantasylands. They must always be completely unstoppable and overcome any obstacle at all, and be a relentless force of nature...till the end when in some "deux ex machina" fashion makes one key mistake allowing the hero to destroy them.
Extra Characters: Dogs are good, but optional, as are precocious children who need a good father figure.
Hallmarks: Heroes use guns, guns are good, if a church is involved, make it Catholic, settings are usually California, police are usually corrupt, good characters can still always find means of acquiring fake ID, hot guns, and all else needed to take the law into their own hands. Must always jam in some populist poetical/literary references to give the reader the illusion he/she is learned.
And that's it. Pick a one word title with little to do with the story, and you'll have a bestseller! Skeptical?
Compare two books of his, ones that would be thought of as "different", but check it against the template:
"Lightning" - Stefan Kruegar, a time travelling Nazi wrestling with his guilt over being in the SS, takes pity on Laura Shane, a woman who had a disastrous upbringing involving being orphaned and abused. They are chased by completely evil time travelling Nazis, but together, and with Laura's precocious son, they succeed - in part due to Laura's ability to get fake ID and hot guns, when the cops prove no help at all. Oh, yeah, and society is in decline.
"Cold Fire" - Jim Ironheart, a psychic telekinetic, wrestling with guilt over his grandma's death, takes pity on Holly Thorne, a woman who is having a disastrous career and social crisis. They are chased by a mysterious force, but together they succeed - in part due to Jim's endless access of cash and guns, when the cops prove no help at all. Oh, yeah, and society is in decline.
"Watchers" - Travis Cornell, a veteran wrestling with loneliness and depression, takes pity on Nora Devon, a woman who had an abusive upbringing at the hands of a neurotic aunt. They are chased by "the outsider", but together, and with the help of a precocious dog, they succeed - in part due to Travis's ability to secure fake IDs and hot guns, when the cops prove no help at all. Oh, yeah, and society is in decline.
Now try it yourselves, and watch the money roll in!
Author's note: I am not the first to notice this, and when I researched this, found that Wikipedia had many of these points made. While I knew it already, I hereby give proper credit to them for listing so many of these things out.