Tips for Making a Thriller
It’s writing tip Wednesday and I’m going to have some fast tips this week and next about making thrillers. Yes, you know those stories that make your heart pound with anxiety, where you aren’t sure what will happen next, where you are secretly saying, “Who comes up with this?”
Here are the pointers!
First, structure. Thrillers have pretty dynamic structures that escalate throughout the story. And there have been a million people who have written about this well and even created diagrams.
Blake Snyder wrote “Save the Cat” and talks all about beats for a story, breaking the structure down into sweet, tangible bites. You should check it out. https://timstout.wordpress.com/story-structure/blake-snyders-beat-sheet/
Make it matter for your hero/protagonist person
Seriously. The stakes have to be high for the hero to jump through all the hoops she has to jump through to make things right. Her stakes should be personal and high.
Make the clock tick
If you only have 23 hours to save your puppy, things are going to be even more charged up.
Do a Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler said, “When things slow down, bring in a man with a gun.”
It doesn’t have to be a gun. It doesn’t have to be a man. Just have something super exciting happen that’s somewhat shocking.
A wolf leaps into the room.
A robot hand breaks through the wall.
A woman screams.
Cardi B shows up at your character’s doorstep.
Big Foot serenades your character from outside the window.
Let the Bad Guy Make Sense (to himself)
When you are good, evil doesn’t make much sense, but that’s because we are seldom the villains in our own stories, right? The bad guy’s actions need to make sense to him. Plus, it will make your readers think, “Oh… I have a little sympathy going on. What’s that mean?”
Just like any major character, it makes sense to really understand who your villain is. It keeps him from being two-dimensional. Nobody wants a flat character.
I’m going to be hanging out at the Augusta Civic Center (Maine) on Saturday, Sept. 8 as part of a Maine Literacy event. It’s open to the public and cool. It’s from 10-2.
I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!
Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLEis still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.