When I set out to write my second thriller, The perfect escape, I’ve always been balancing the core of the idea and the characters of my characters with everything I’ve known from years of reading puzzles and thrillers and watching Hitchcock and Gulls movies. I never like to follow a formula, but I know that readers (like me) will expect a number of twists, turns, and surprises when they pick up a new movie.
(Lea Konin: On Thrilling Real-Life Inspiration)
While I don’t think there is one way to write a homegrown thriller, here are a few things I always try to keep in mind:
get out of your place
No, you don’t have to have a haunted house. Some of my favorite thrillers are located in all kinds of locations, from gorgeous mansions to cramped apartments, and outbacks to suburban neighborhoods. But nonetheless, the best thrillers have an element of horror in their environments, which I like to call the “creep factor.” This might be the creaking sound of wooden beams settling in an old attic, the killer smell of road rot on a country road, or the oddity of crossing a neighborhood where every home looks exactly the same. No matter where you choose to set up your local movie, be sure to include details in every scene that evoke a certain oddity I don’t know what.
keep it close
Unlike action-packed political or legal thrillers, a domestic thriller can really focus on the nuances of what happens behind closed doors between a few people, whether they’re romantic partners, family members, or close friends. My greatest advice in writing a local thriller is that you don’t have to include a lot of characters. I love the tight, tight-knit setting, which offers plenty of opportunities to decipher the unique motives, motivations, and secrets of each character. You’ll definitely need a bunch of captivating side characters, but there’s no need to make a complicated one – you can get a lot done by keeping it small.
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My rule of thumb is if twisting, revealing, or answering a mystery comes first for you Head up, there’s a good chance it’s the first one that will come to you the reader head as well. With this in mind, don’t always rely on your first idea of skipping turns and turns. By writing and rewriting, look for opportunities to surprise yourself and change some of the plot points that you thought were fixed in the rock. Your ambiguity will be much stronger and complex.
Remember the relationships
For me, what makes something of a domestic movie are the unique relationships between the main characters. They don’t have to be romantic. It can be friendships, family ties, or even colleagues. I think the most important part is that you create a network of characters that fight for (and fight) each other, whose decisions greatly influence each other’s decisions. I believe that a perfect misrepresentation not only affects the outcome of one of your characters, but through an elaborate mix of relationships, has repercussions for every major character in your book.
I think there are a lot of books where the ending isn’t as important as the building and the main arc, but in thrillers most readers yearn for an ending that sends chills deep down and finds a way to deliver one last surprise. My advice on endings is to keep the surprises going by the last page. While your biggest reveal will usually peak, there’s no reason not to keep a few cards in your pocket to slowly reveal with each chapter of your epilogue.
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