Villains. Cliffhangers. Red herrings. How much excitement can
you pack into one thriller plotline? The more, the merrier. That’s what makes
thrillers one of the most popular forms of literature, film and television.
After all, who doesn’t love that edge of the seat action, the thrill of the
chase and the sense of satisfaction once the good guy saves the day? Thrillers
are a roller coaster ride of adrenaline for the audience; it’s up to the
writers to deliver a rip roaring good time.
This article will help you line up the right components to
take your audience on an adventure they won’t soon forget. Before you begin,
you must remind yourself of the thriller genre’s only goal: The good guy must
thwart the plans of the bad guy…ideally in a fast-paced, action-packed format!
Oftentimes, the thriller can be confused with a mystery.
The primary purpose of a mystery is for the main character to solve a crime
that has already happened. While this element may be infused within your
thriller plotline, it’s important to frame it within the context of the
protagonist-antagonist chase. Here are some other qualities of a successful
Thriller heroes typically fall into one of two camps: The “action
professional,” someone with plenty of bad-guy fighting experience, or the
“ordinary Joe/Jane,” who’s been placed in extraordinary circumstances, usually
by accident. Some of the most interesting thrillers combine the two for an
intriguing twist that keeps the audience rooting for the unlikely team.
While the “good guys” in a thriller are often developed to relate to the
audience in some way, the villains are only limited by the writer’s
imagination. Memorable villains have been non-human, such as monsters, ghosts,
techno-beasts, chemical agents and aliens. Even human villains have twists of
the un-real, like psychotic tendencies, physical deformities and other creepy
The exotic locale:
Add even more excitement to your plotline by taking the audience out of the
everyday comfort zone and into a foreign setting. Consider Indiana Jones, Laura
Croft, Jason Borne, who were forced to face extreme temperatures, high seas and
questionable countries in their quests for the bad guys.
situation: To increase the level of suspense, there is often a situation of
large-scale, dire consequences at stake. If the hero does not overtake the
villain, terrorists will take over the world. Millions of innocent people will
perish. The earth will self-destruct. Etc. How many lives can your hero save in
the end? What
The swift style:
Thrillers are quick paced with equally crisp dialogue, but must include enough
character development to ensure that your audience will care about the outcome.
Reveal insights into your characters’ personalities every time they’re faced
with a new challenge.
Before you begin your thriller, consider the above
elements carefully. You may also want to check out recent best-seller lists to
see what types of thrillers have been most popular lately. There are many
different sub-genres, including crime, political, conspiracy, technological,
erotic, horror, legal and medical, among others. Where will your plot fit in?
Or, will it blend the best characteristics of a few sub-genres to help it stand
out even more? Whatever the answer, writing a thriller can be just as exciting
as reading or watching one.