7 Things I Learned About Writing Thrillers

Thursday, April 20, 2023

In recent years, thriller novels have become more popular. Typically, a thriller involves high stakes, plenty of action, and a sense of danger that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. Writing a thriller can be daunting, but with planning and careful execution, we can create a page-turner that keeps readers engrossed from the opening scene to the end of the book. Here are the things I learned while writing Flames of Wrath

Grab the Reader by the Throat. 

The opening of a thriller should immediately grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. That first scene should introduce the main character, establish the setting, and create tension and anticipation. One effective way to do this is to begin with an action scene that shows the protagonist in a dangerous situation. As well, the book can begin with an event shrouded in mystery that raises questions and creates suspense.

Craft Compelling Characters

Novels in this genre rely on character development as much as the plot. The main character should be relatable and interesting enough to keep readers invested in their journey. They need strong motivation and backstories that help readers understand their actions and decisions. And let’s not forget the antagonist. He/she should be just as compelling as the protagonist, with clear reasons that drive their actions. Even if their motivation isn’t apparent at the beginning, their motivation should become more evident as the story unfolds. 

Suspense is Your Friend

Suspense is a crucial element in every thriller. To build and create suspense, it’s essential to establish a sense of danger and keep the reader guessing. Unexpected plot twists that challenge the protagonist are a must. They keep the reader wondering what will happen next. Foreshadowing clues the reader in to future events. All combined, these elements contribute to tight pacing and help maintain tension.

Stakes are Mega-Important 

The stakes must be high to keep readers invested in the story's outcome. They must be dire and have far-reaching consequences. The protagonist must have a personal stake in the story outcome, and failure should mean more than losing battles. It should mean losing everything.

Don’t Forget Sensory Details

I believe in involving at least three of the senses in each scene. Sensory details immerse readers in each scene and do wonders to create the right story atmosphere. Use descriptive language to create vivid images that help the reader to see, hear, and feel what’s happening. This approach makes the story that much more realistic and increases tension. 

Say What You Mean

Thriller novels can be complex, with multiple plot threads and twists. Use concise language and avoid unnecessary details that can slow the story to a crawl. At the same time, longer sentences help readers breathe a little and prevent the risk of heart attacks from keeping up with the relentless pace. It goes without saying that during the edits, all loose ends need to be snipped away and plot threads satisfactorily knotted. 

I Am Woman Hear Me Roar

I never know quite what I can do until I’m stretched in a new direction. When I was plotting Flames of Wrath, I wondered how soon I’d emerge from the maze of research, execution of clever crimes, and ensuring the baddies got their comeuppance. But thankfully, all that planning and scheming are in my rear-view mirror.

This journey showed me that writing a thriller takes careful planning and execution. The opening scene for Flames of Wrath may make some readers uncomfortable, but I’m hoping they’ll root for the characters I’ve created. I also hope they will enjoy the storyline as each character works out how to get through adversity and beat the odds against them. Of course, some pay for being baddies. That's a fair exchange for creating mayhem, I think.

Happy reading and writing!

If you haven’t yet pre-ordered Flames of Wrath, be sure to do so here


A mother’s quest for justice turns into a race against time to stop insidious murders that mysteriously begin populating throughout the city. 

Fans of Lisa Jewell and Ruth Ware will be enthralled by this emotionally chilling thriller.

The need to right a wrong against an innocent victim triggers a hailstorm of revenge.

In less than twenty-four hours—before Alexia Leighton is scheduled to return to Miami from spring break in Jamaica—a group of friends betray her in a grisly assault that stops a heartbeat away from murder. The seventeen-year-old prays for the mercy of death. She survives. 

While on the road to recovery, Alexia's attackers become victims of mysterious acts of violence, leaving authorities confounded and racing against time to prevent another deadly attack. Concern looms, as the perpetrator has proven to be two steps ahead of them at every turn.

When the attention swings to Alexia's mother, a cyber-security expert, the family closes ranks. Geneva Leighton must quickly eliminate herself as a suspect, but not without handing down more punishment. 

The offenders fear for their own safety and the secrets that plague them. Can they trust the police to find the killer before someone else dies, or has their fate been sealed—leaving them with no place to run, and no place to hide . . .

Pre-Order links:

Amazon - http://microlinks.io/FlamesofWrath

Apple - http://microlinks.io/FlamesofWrathAP 

Barnes & Noble – http://microlinks.io/FlamesofWrathBN 

Kobo - http://microlinks.io/FlamesofWrathKobo

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