Sure wanna be: Thriller Author

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«… Write about a sticky situation and let the characters wing it from there…»

Heed this list of 10 rules for those who want to become good Thriller Authors. Some of these tips have thoroughly been elaborated on – and illustrated for that matter – in Elmore Leonard's book. For obvious reasons, we are not going to copy them all here. More advice about writing successfully was given by horror master Stephen King a long time ago, but it's still solid as a rock. Here's a modern mix of great Thriller Writing pointer – with a twist of course:


  1. Be invisible as the author. Elmore suggests that if "...the sound of your voice pleases you..." you're gonna have a hard time achieving this.
  2. Start the book off with something about people. Your audience can't be arsed to read about the weather. Even worse: a prologue ewww.
  3. Write about a sticky situation and let the characters wing it from there. Try and avoid conjuring up a plot – which King says will block spontaneity and creativity.
  4. Know your audience and be like them. It's no use writing about your own pet phobias in an attempt to scare people. What may cause you to die a thousand virtual deaths is quite likely to look completely harmless and un-scary to most people. An exception can be made for clowns which are meant to look harmless but still scare the living crap out of most people – as Stephen has clearly shown with "It".

  5. Let the dialogues provide the imagery for the scenes. The characters' words will define their backgrounds, their actions, even their surroundings. Don't be tempted to meticulously describe stuff, or your book will be as bad as the film version leaving nothing to the imagination.
  6. Similarly, there is no need to explain that "All of a sudden..." something shocking happened. People will read it and be automatically shocked by the words – provided you chose the right ones of course.
  7. In your hunt for the right words to use, never be tempted to use a dictionary or any other reference book. Better to misspell than to stop your creative process. Better to use an ugly simple word than a pretty, fancy one that people are gonna have to look up anyway.
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  9. Be ruthless. If something doesn't really add to the story, leave it out. Kill anything that impedes the flow of your writing, be it a single word (like for example some dreaded adverb) or a complete and utterly useless passage that people are bound to skip. Just get to the point.
  10. Have fun while you write. Your audience will sense that – subliminally of course 'cos a good Writer is invisible – and they will be entertained.
  11. Don't fear the critics. You can't expect everyone to like what you write, so bite your lip if they just seem to have bad taste in books. Then again: if they're all saying the same thing, then they might be on to something. Still, you know that your stuff is good, because you took great care to follow the previous 9 rules.



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