Thrillers are characterized by fast pacing, frequent action, and resourceful heroes who must thwart the plans of more-powerful and better-equipped villains. Literary devices such as suspense, red herrings and cliffhangers are used extensively.
Thrillers often overlap with mystery stories, but are distinguished by the structure of their plots. In a thriller, the hero must thwart the plans of an enemy, rather than uncover a crime that has already happened. Thrillers also occur on a much grander scale: the crimes that must be prevented are serial or mass murder, terrorism, assassination, or the overthrow of governments. Jeopardy and violent confrontations are standard plot elements. While a mystery climaxes when the mystery is solved, a thriller climaxes when the hero finally defeats the villain, saving his own life and often the lives of others.
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