Blast from the past: Thriller Writing Tips

While I attack the outline for my next novel, here is some wisdom hard-won while writing my previous books.

Thriller writing tips:

I’ve recently compiled — through trial, error, failure, and revision — a few notes about writing tactics that can make thriller research and editing go more smoothly.

  1. Know which blades and gadgets are found on a Swiss Army knife. You’re writing a thriller: Your heroine may need to use one. To insure that you always have a Swiss Army knife handy, make sure your kids join cub scouts and brownies.
  2. Editing tip: pay attention when spell-checking. MS Word wants to change “Maglite” to “Magritte.” But surrealist art will not help your hero see in the dark.
  3. If your characters have time for more than two lines of witty banter, the pace is too slow. Fire a missile at them.
  4. If you put a dog in jeopardy, never ever leave its fate unresolved. Readers will hound you for it. Forever.
  5. If acting out a fight scene to check for realism, tell the kids before they walk in and find Mom kicking Dad.
  6. when checking that a drugged victim can escape from a vehicle, look for your neighbors before falling from the car to the driveway.

It’s also important know when to reject suggestions from helpful family members. For example:

Me: I need to edit two scenes with Jo Beckett and Evan Delaney in to one, and decide whose point of view wins out.

The Husband: Sounds like a problem they can solve with hot oil and some wrestling.

Good luck.

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