October 17, 2011

Writers Tips #81: 11 Tips on Writing Thrillers

writers tips

Great tips for soon-to-be great writers

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

These come from James Frey’s excellent guide to writing a d*** good thriller. If you can’t get your hands on a copy of the book, at least own these:

  1. Commit yourself to creating strong conflicts in every line of every scene
  2. Have fresh, snappy dialogue and not a single line of conversation
  3. Write quickly when drafting.
  4. Have production quotas of at least a thousand words every day. three-four thousand is better
  5. Have no bland, colorless characters
  6. Trick your readers
  7. Dump your characters into terrible trouble from page one
  8. Have powerful story questions at all times
  9. Have a hook at the end of each chapter
  10. Be fresh in your writing
  11. Keep the clock ticking and the excitement mounting


Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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