Monday, June 7, 2010

Sixteen Tips for Writing Great Thrillers

by Jean Henry Mead

One of the best features of my new release, Mysterious Writers, is the advice offered by mystery/crime writers I've interviewed. Among them "Sixteen Tips for Writing a Great Thriller" by international bestselling Canadian novelist, Rick Mofina:

1. A problem befalls the protagonist that will change/threaten her/his life.
2. Define the stakes. Establish a deadline. The clock is ticking.
3. Who is your protagonist? Give readers what they need to know to empathize.
4. Who/what is your antagonist? Give readers what they need to understand or fear.
5. Action = Character. Conflict = Tension. Tension = Drama. Time is slipping by.
6. Hooks compel readers to turn pages. Otherwise, what's the point?
7. Hope emerges. A resolution is in sight. Or is it?
8. Protagonist’s credibility. Use what you know personally to build a solid frame.
9. Story plausibility. Use what you know personally to reinforce that frame.
10. Make readers feel the story, smell it, taste it, live it.
11. Dialogue and details must reveal character, drive the story.
12. The clock is ticking. Urgency is critical.
13. Things just got a whole lot worse. The reader sweats it out with the protagonist.
14. Time is up. The antagonist will triumph.
15. All hope appears to be gone but the protagonist battles on against the odds.
16. The protagonist defeats the antagonist in a life-changing resolution of the problem.

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Mysterious Writers also contains Elmore Leonard's ten writing tips, among other writing advice from 75 authors.


Morgan Mandel said...

Great tips to remember.

Morgan Mandel

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Morgan. I'll be guest blogging about the new book at Acme Authors Link tomorrow (as well as my checkered career) at


Helen Ginger said...

Thanks Morgan. I've bookmarked this!

Straight From Hel