One of the most popular genres in fiction is the Thriller novel. There are many types of thrillers such as spy thrillers, action thrillers, psychological thrillers, sci-fi thrillers, romantic thrillers, and many more. All of these thriller categories have the general characteristics: they have a strong, complex and interesting protagonist, who is faced with a serious or even life-and-death problem, and when he/she tries to solve the problem, it just gets worse and worse. The antagonist is stronger, more powerful and keeps thwarting the hero at every stage…until the end when the protagonist finally overcomes all and solves the problem.
While thrillers may seem formulaic and predictable from this general picture, a good thriller is anything but. A well-crafted thriller (like ‘Silence of the Lambs’ or ‘The Woman in White’) constantly surprises, shocks and ‘thrills’ the reader at every stage. It caters to the smart, logical and intellectual reader, who is kept guessing till the very end through the complex plot twists.
If you have always wanted to craft a thriller, take a look at the following 4 thriller writing tips:
1. Have a Unique Story Idea or Twist
A thriller basically has to be unpredictable so that the reader cannot guess the outcome. Using a story idea that has been around the block a few times is doomed from the start, as the reader can probably guess the outcome early on. A unique and unexpected storyline will keep readers hooked from the start. If you do have a story around oft-used themes, then do use a fresh voice and add a series of unforeseeable plot twists to keep the readers guessing. Build your plot around interesting and complex characters, a relatable but highly dangerous situation, and several unexpected problems with unique solutions.
2. Do Your Research
To make a thriller believable and real, there must be enough sound information and well-researched details provided (think Dan Brown’s ‘Deception Point’ or the ‘Da Vinci Code’). Readers want to be immersed in the story in order to get caught up in the suspense. So, a well-planned setting and detailed situations are required. For example, if you are writing a medical thriller, you need to create a realistic medical setting and use the correct terminology. While you don’t need to be a doctor for this, you do need to research and familiarize yourself with what you are writing about. Factual errors, glaring inconsistencies and incorrect information distract readers from the thrill ride you want to keep them on.
3. Make it Logical
Readers expect thrillers to be carefully plotted and come to a logical conclusion. As readers are constantly trying to guess the ultimate solution before you reveal it, illogical plot elements can throw them off and create disillusionment. Ensure that the plot has no gaping holes in logic, and moves forward in a way that ultimately makes complete sense. By the end of the book, all the questions must be answered and any loose ends must be satisfactorily tied up.
4. Make it Snappy
In a thriller, every word, sentence and paragraph should count, and move the story forward while building suspense. Use short, terse dialogue and sentences in your book to add to the tension and drama. Cut out any unnecessary descriptions, details and dialogue that don’t help the plot along.
Short, action-packed chapters are also a great thrill-building method. Many popular crime thrillers arrange the story into lots of very short chapters. This approach lets you end each brief chapter with an unanswered question, a cliff-hanger, a twist, or a dangerous situation, and consequently keeps the reader moving from short chapter to chapter eagerly.
Image credit: rjp on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CS_Rajan.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]CS Rajan is a freelance writer who loves to write on various topics, and is currently working on her first novel. [/author_info] [/author]