Writing Thrillers


There is a dilemma here that is particularly so in writing thrillers. Thriller writing needs to move quickly yet allow the development of both characters and location.

Most beginner writers make the mistake of running at the story too quickly  and exhausting all their ideas too quickly. Remember you are not writing a short story. You are in for the long haul of 300-400 pages. It is a good idea to open the story with an ‘incident’ that catches the reader and establishes the flavour of the book.

In The Extra Temptation the opening scene is the discovery of a marble cube in a medieval monastic settlement. That sets the mood for the story. What could this cube be? What might it contain? So from the first chapter the reader (I hope) is caught up in the story.

In the medical thriller – FEAR – a different approach was needed. On a river in northern China a military boat rounds a bend and discovers a shabby boat adrift with seven dead bodies on board. Not only are they dead but every drop of water is missing from the bodies. That second detail sets up the mystery – what killed these people? Whatever this thing is it surfaces in Boston, USA, and overruns an entire hospital, then poAmazonAmazonurs into the Charles River that runs through the city.

In this second example you will note you need not confine your thinking to one country in particular. You may be a writer in Brazil or in America or Japan – fine, but that does not confine you to writing only about your own country. Indeed in thriller writing several countries are commonly involved. This adds to the exotic nature of your writing. It also contributes to ‘pace’.

I hope that this might help some people in their writing.