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Thriller Writing 101: Essential Elements for Crafting a Page-Turning Story

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

The Do's and Don'ts of Writing a Thrilling Novel—Expert Advice for Crafting a Novel That Will Keep Your Readers on the Edge of Their Seats!


Are you ready to write the next blockbuster thriller novel? Whether you're a seasoned author or a budding novelist, crafting a page-turning thriller requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a mastery of suspense.


In this post, we'll explore the essential elements of thriller writing, including creating compelling characters, building tension and suspense, and developing a gripping storyline. Follow these tips and tricks, and you'll be well on your way to writing a thriller that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.


Before you start:

Before we start, it would be helpful to have a general idea of what you have already written and what direction you would like the story to take. Do you have a specific plot or characters in mind, or would you like some guidance in developing those elements?


Also, it's important to keep in mind that writing a book is a complex and time-consuming task, and it can be helpful to have a plan and to break the writing process down into smaller, manageable steps.


It can be helpful to start by creating a character profile for each of your main characters. This can include their physical appearance, personality traits, background, goals, and motivations. All of this helps you get to know your characters better and make them feel more believable for your readers.


A thriller is a type of story that is meant to keep the reader on the edge of their seat with suspense, mystery, and surprise twists and turns. Some common elements of thrillers include crime or intrigue, danger or threat, and high stakes or consequences.


Here are a few steps you can follow to help you plan and write your thriller:

  1. Choose a central conflict or problem that your characters will face: This could be a crime that needs to be solved, a threat that needs to be neutralized, or a goal that needs to be achieved.

  2. Determine the setting and time period for your story: This can help to create a sense of place and establish the tone and atmosphere of your story.

  3. Develop a timeline of events that will drive the plot forward and create tension and suspense: You might consider including a series of clues or hints that the reader can follow along with as the story unfolds.

  4. Create a list of potential obstacles or challenges that your characters will need to overcome: These can help to create tension and conflict and keep the plot moving forward.

  5. Write a detailed outline of your story: including key plot points and character development. This can help you to stay on track and ensure that your story has a clear structure and progression.

  6. Start writing! As you work on your story, be sure to pay attention to pacing, dialogue, and description, and try to create vivid and engaging scenes that will keep your readers invested in the story.


How to create compelling characters:

Creating compelling characters is an important aspect of writing a thriller novel. It can be helpful to start by creating a character profile for each of your main characters. Only once you have a good sense of your characters is that you can start thinking about the plot of your thriller. This can include their physical appearance, personality traits, background, goals, and motivations.

  1. Give your characters distinct personalities: Make sure your characters have unique traits, habits, and mannerisms that set them apart from one another. This will help make them more interesting and believable.

  2. Make your characters multi-dimensional: Your characters should be more than just one-dimensional stereotypes. Give them depth and complexity by including flaws, motivations, and backstories.

  3. Use dialogue to reveal character: Dialogue is a powerful tool for revealing character. Make sure your characters' speech patterns and word choices are distinct and reflect their personalities.

  4. Show, don't tell: Instead of simply telling the reader about a character's personality, show it through their actions and interactions with other characters.

  5. Use character arc: A character arc is the change a character undergoes over the course of a story. Make sure your characters have clear goals and motivations, and show how they change and grow as the story unfolds.


Building tension and suspense:

Building tension and suspense is crucial for a successful thriller novel. Here's how you can create a sense of tension and keep readers on the edge of their seats:

  1. Take advantage of pacing: Vary the pace of your story to keep readers engaged. Use slower, more descriptive passages to build tension, and quicken the pace during action scenes to increase the sense of urgency.

  2. Create a sense of danger: Make sure your readers understand the stakes of the story and the dangers faced by your characters. This will help create a sense of tension and keep readers invested in the outcome of the story.

  3. Use mystery and uncertainty: Keep readers guessing by withholding information and introducing unexpected twists and turns. This will keep them engaged and increase the sense of suspense.

  4. Use foreshadowing: Drop hints about future events to give readers a sense of what's to come and keep them on their toes.

  5. Explore different points of view: Experiment with different points of view to add tension and suspense. For example, using a first-person point of view can make readers feel more connected to the main character and increase the sense of danger.


Developing a gripping storyline:

Developing a gripping storyline is crucial for a successful thriller novel. Here are a few tips to help you craft a captivating plot:

  1. Start with a compelling premise: A strong premise is the foundation of a good thriller novel. Make sure your story has a unique and interesting concept that will keep readers engaged.

  2. Create conflict: Conflict is the driving force of any story. Make sure there is a clear goal or problem that your characters are trying to solve or overcome, and introduce obstacles and challenges along the way.

  3. Use plot twists: Plot twists can be a great way to keep readers guessing and keep the story interesting. Just make sure to use them sparingly and make sure they are well-planned and believable.

  4. Use tension and suspense: As mentioned above, building tension and suspense is key to a successful thriller novel. Make sure there are moments of high stakes and danger throughout the story to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

  5. Make sure your ending is satisfying: A good ending should wrap up all the loose ends and give readers a sense of resolution. Make sure your ending is satisfying and leaves a lasting impression on your readers.

By following these tips, you can create compelling and believable characters that will help bring your thriller novel to life, effectively building tension and suspense in your novel, crafting a gripping and engaging storyline, and keep readers engaged and invested in the story.


I hope these tips were helpful! Please share this post on social media if you found it valuable, and remember to follow @eric5310pub on Twitter and @5310publishing on Twitter and Instagram! Click here to subscribe to our mailing list for future updates, get notified of book releases, discounts, and much more!

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