Ever fancied writing a thriller? This genre is certainly one of the most dynamic and successful at the moment. So, today I am super pleased to welcome a dear friend, multi-talented writer – and teacher of writing – to my blog, the lovely Caroline Green. Her debut thriller – written under the pen name Cass Green – The Woman Next Door comes out on 22nd July. Caroline is already an accomplished, award-winning author of Young Adult fiction and a successful journalist to boot. So, over to Caroline for some eye-opening tips about how to get started in this genre…
After writing four YA novels I’m taking my first steps with adult thrillers. I’m very excited! Here are five things I’ve learned so far about writing for this massively popular and competitive market.
Know your genre. Read everything you can.
Writing for what you think the market wants might be tempting, but this cynical approach rarely pays off, in my experience. Not least because the market’s a strange and unpredictable beast.
Luckily, I’ve loved thrillers for ever, and for me there’s nothing better than that feverish feeling of wanting to turn the pages faster and faster. But more than anything, you need to read, read, read to know what’s out there. When aspiring writers say they don’t have time to read books, it makes me want to cry! More than anything else, writers need to be readers. And the best thing is, you can sit there devouring good books and tell everyone you’re hard at work on research. Result!
Don’t give your readers whiplash.
You know what it’s like; you’re reading a thriller and then there is a twist so preposterous you spend a few moments going, ‘What? Where? How?’ Now sometimes that can be a delicious thing and when the shock twist works properly it’s a sign of immense story telling skill. But when it seems to come from nowhere, or have no roots in the rest of the story, then your reader just feels annoyed and a bit let down. I hope I’ve managed to do this with The WOMAN NEXT DOOR but readers will have to judge for themselves!
Make your characters flawed and complex.
We don’t have to like characters……but we DO have to care about them. As Gone Girl and Girl on a Train proved, we can become heavily invested in characters who aren’t especially likeable, as long as we’re fascinated by what they’re going to do next and what happens to them. I personally wouldn’t want to live next door to either Hester or Melissa, my characters in THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR! But oh, I do love them both…
Give ‘em what they need, not what they want.
I have to confess to pinching this one from the brilliant book Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey into Story by story guru John Yorke. So we all know that most stories involve a character trying to reach a goal, right? But when you have the character ending up with the thing they actually needed, and didn’t know it, rather than what they thought they wanted, it can make for very satisfying ending.
…and speaking of endings
It’s disappointing when you’ve avidly devoured a book and then there is a weak denouement. Now, you don’t have to tie together every single loose thread at the end but you definitely should make sure that the finale is as complete and well thought through as the important first few pages. I’m surprised by how often I’ll feel an ending is the weakest part of a novel I’ve just read.
So make sure you save a little story magic for the end.
Some insightful tips there, thank you Caroline! The Woman Next Door sounds like a great read and a real bargain at just 99p!
Cass Green is the adult pen name of Caroline Green, an award -winning author of fiction for young people. Her first novel, DARK RIDE won the RONA Young Adult Book of the Year and the Waverton Good Read Award. CRACKS and HOLD YOUR BREATH garnered rave reviews and were shortlisted for eleven awards between them, including: The Amazing Book Award; The Catalyst Book Award The Leeds Book Award; The Hampshire Book Award; Sefton Super Reads, the Oldham Book Award and The Stockport Book Award. She is the Writer in Residence at East Barnet School and teaches Writing for Children at City University. Caroline has been a journalist for over twenty years and has written for many broadsheet newspapers and glossy magazines.
A dark and twisty psychological thriller, perfect for fans of HER by Harriet Lane and IN A DARK DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware.
Two suburban women. Two dark secrets. The almost perfect murder.
Everybody needs good neighbours…
Melissa and Hester have lived next door to each other for years. When Melissa’s daughter was younger, Hester was almost like a grandmother to her. But recently they haven’t been so close.
Hester has plans to change all that. It’s obvious to her that despite Melissa’s outwardly glamorous and successful life, she needs Hester’s help.
But taking help from Hester might not be such a good idea for a woman with as many secrets as Melissa…