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Blog How to Craft Thrillers

How to Craft Thrillers

By S.J. Willis | Guest Blog

How to Craft Thrillers

The first book I ever wrote, when I was six years old, was titled Mummy’s Book of Cats. The first pages consist entirely of my pencil sketches of cats. But when you turn onto page three, something unexpected: DOGS. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Boom: my first ever plot twist.

I’ve always loved plot twists. Those bits that make you gasp as you’re reading. The revelations that flip the story on its head. That sweet character you really liked? They’re a VILLAIN! The long-dead relative? NOT DEAD! That perfect world they’re living in? A COMPUTER SIMULATION.

My thriller, Bite Risk, was partly inspired by the exciting, twisty novels I read as a teenager, such as The Tripods, by John Christopher. But it was also inspired by real-life plot twists, like the Covid pandemic, which upturned us all and set us off in new directions. It struck me that ‘normal life’ can easily change, and I wondered just how weird a situation could be, and yet still be considered normal by the people living in it. What if, once a month, children had to lock up their werewolf parents to avoid being savaged?

Once I’d had that basic idea, I found that thriller inspiration was everywhere, even at home. Just watching the behaviour of my pet poodle, Bucky, helped me (wolves are closely related to dogs – even poodles). He can smell things I can’t smell, hear things I can’t hear, and that gave me ideas for how the plot could develop in surprising ways.

One good trick for thinking up plot twists is to turn something upside down, or inside out. An event, a character, even a whole setting. Will your reader have been assuming something is true, when it might not be? Have you been assuming something about your story that you should take another look at? These could be revelations, things that are true from the start but which you keep hidden until the big moment. Other plot twists might come in the form of events that interrupt the narrative your reader is expecting and send the story off in a different direction: a storm, the wrong bus, a broken key… Think: ‘What if…?’ and allow your thoughts to take you down winding paths without knowing were you’ll end up.

If your story is feeling a little dull, it's also fun to throw a spanner in the works for yourself while you’re writing. Introduce something unexpected that even you haven’t thought of a reason for yet: a bird falling out of the sky; someone running past and tossing a bag of jewels at your character. Then, work backwards to see if you can figure out why it happened, and how it might fit in to your original story. Even if you don’t end up keeping your random event, it can trigger all sorts of interesting sparks in your mind. Let your brain make strange links, and you might begin to see a twisty tale fitting together.

If you would like to try writing your own thrilling tale, why not enter Mission Catastrophe today? 

Published: Thu 14th Mar 2024

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I love to see my story to read the book
by Azmain Sarwar - 15-03-2024 08:06
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