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Blog Secrets Unleashed: Unlocking the Art of Writing Thrillers with Sophie McKenzie

Secrets Unleashed: Unlocking the Art of Writing Thrillers with Sophie McKenzie

By Sophie McKenzie | Author, Guest Blog, Top Tips

Secrets Unleashed: Unlocking the Art of Writing Thrillers with Sophie McKenzie

Building Blocks of Thrill: Sophie McKenzie's Top Tips for Creating Tension and Suspense

Today we dive into the captivating world of thrillers with esteemed author Sophie McKenzie. With her brand-new release, "Secret Sister," which hit the shelves on July 20th, 2023, we are delighted to have Sophie share her invaluable insights and top tips on crafting gripping and suspenseful stories.

Thrillers have long held a special place in the literary landscape, offering readers an adrenaline-fuelled journey through intricate plots, unexpected twists, and heart-pounding suspense. As an accomplished writer in the genre, Sophie McKenzie has mastered the art of keeping readers on the edge of their seats, eagerly turning pages long into the night.

In this exclusive guest blog, Sophie reveals her five top tips to writing compelling thrillers that will leave readers breathless and yearning for more. Whether you're an aspiring author or a devoted fan of the genre, Sophie's expertise is sure to ignite your passion for storytelling and equip you with the tools necessary to craft your own gripping tales.

So, join us as we embark on a thrilling adventure into the world of mystery, secrets, and relentless tension. Unlock the secrets behind crafting unforgettable characters, constructing intricate plots, and creating those spine-tingling moments that keep readers hooked from beginning to end.

Without further ado, let's dive into Sophie McKenzie's five top tips for writing thrilling and suspenseful novels that will leave readers clamouring for the next page.

A strong story.

When it comes to writing thrillers, a strong story is the most important element! To make your story ‘strong’ you’ll need a rounded, relatable central character with a need or goal that really matters to them and that drives them through the story – as well as plenty of significant obstacles getting in the way. In my first book, Girl, Missing, 14-year-old Lauren knows she is adopted but nothing about her life before that. Her adoptive parents won’t discuss the subject, but one day Lauren sees a picture of a girl who went missing twelve years ago on a website and suspects that the girl is her. Desperate to find her birth family and to discover whether she was stolen away from them as a toddler, Lauren goes in search of the truth. This journey leads her into many life-threatening dangers and also forces her to make choices that affect the lives of those around her. She has a clear, practical goal – to find out the truth about her past – and a clear underlying need – to work out who she is by understanding where she comes from. She also faces many obstacles, several of which lead her into grave danger.

Action and pace.

Forget any lengthy scene setting. It’s crucial to get into the story fast. Avoid lingering descriptions or too much background information. These will just slow the action down. Thrillers need to be exciting – so ideally everything that happens in your story should be (at least a little bit) unexpected. However, it also needs to be believable. Readers want to be kept on the edge of their seats unsure what’s going to happen next. If what happens next is unconvincing in the context of the story so far, they will almost certainly feel disappointed.

Getting grown-ups and tech out of way.

For me, getting any adults in the story out of the picture is crucial. Teenage protagonists need to be able to overcome their problems and save the day independently.  That’s one of the reasons why my latest book, Secret Sister – about twins, separated as babies, now trying to find each other - is partly set on an island where the local community avoids using almost all electronic devices!

Be persistent.

Once you have written your story, you have to be open to revising it. Cut what doesn’t serve the story. Don’t be indulgent.

Keep reading.

If you want to write a thriller, it makes sense to read as many as you can. There are plenty of great books out there, from the classic The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins – to newer stories such as This Book Kills, by Ravena Guron.

You can purchase a copy of Secret Sister here!

Published: Fri 21st Jul 2023

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