Welcome back to AuthorHouse Author’s Digest, and the third and final installment of our tips for self-publishing thriller writers! If you missed parts one and two (or just want a refresher,) you can find them in our Author Advice section.
Supply plenty of twists and surprises. These are thrillers, after all, and twists are a large part of the reason your audience is reading in the first place. Keep the surprises coming, but be sure they make sense within the context of the story; twists just for the sake of being unpredictable won’t entertain anyone.
Keep them turning the pages with cliffhangers. The end of a chapter is a natural place to stop reading for the night; use a cliffhanger to compel the reader to continue for “just a few more pages.” When you keep them up until the early morning hours, or have them showing up to work the next day with bloodshot eyes, you’re doing your job!
Incorporate the five senses. We tend to over-emphasize visual descriptions, but don’t forget to tell us what your character feels, hears, smells, and tastes. Call it “sensory immersion” if you wish–it will increase the “you’re really there” experience for your reader.
The sound of the ticking clock. While you don’t need a literal ticking clock, make sure your protagonist is facing a time crunch of some kind. A flooding room, a bomb that’s about to detonate, an approaching storm… all of these can create a sense of urgency that cranks up the tension of every scene.
Play fair with the clues. If you’re story is a mystery, you have to provide the same information to the audience that you provide to the hero. When the solution is revealed, the audience should feel like they had equal opportunity to solve the crime (if they’d only noticed that clue, or the significance of that conversation, or… you get the point). This is not the time to introduce new evidence!
Use brand names to add realism. This technique was used successfully by Ian Fleming. Knowing that his Casino Royale plot was a bit fantastic, Fleming mentioned brand names and specific models of cars, guns, etc. whenever possible. He felt that the technique “anchored” the plot to the real world, making it more believable—and we agree with him!
And this concludes our tips for thriller writers! Give them a try, throw out the ones that don’t work for you, and incorporate the others into your writing!