With Halloween just past and fall still in full swing there remain lots of reasons to feel spooky. And for those who relish this feeling, there’s no better activity than settling into a gripping thriller on a cold and blustery evening.

This NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), why not try your hand at creating your own thriller novel. It could be as easy as these three steps…

1) Exploring character

Every good thriller – and story for that matter – has a central protagonist. Who is your thriller going to focus on? What events will happen to this person or the people around them? What is their character arc? Timelines are also an important element to consider – your thriller will have enough twists and turns without having to contend with a confusing chronology!

Deciding on your key character is a creative process in itself. What are the defining features of this character, perhaps physically or intellectually? What are they struggling with? A good piece of advice from Writer’s Digest when creating your cast of characters is to “[a]void the ‘stock character’ trap…reject the first image you come up with when creating a character. Entertain several possibilities, always looking for a fresh take.”

2) Setting the scene

Creating an atmosphere of suspense and just the right amount of intrigue can really set the tone for a novel and is especially crucial within the thriller genre. Where is your novel set? This is a fantastic chance to flex your creative writing muscles and explore a wide range of vocabulary and themes.

3) Choosing a plot twist

Any thriller worth its salt wouldn’t be complete without a plot twist.

In film, plots generally follow a typical structure of the set-up, the confrontation and the resolution. With thrillers and of course many other genres you have the flexibility to leave things open-ended or introduce something new or entirely unexpected, completely change the story formula – the possibilities are endless!

Science fiction and fantasy novelist Michael Moorcock offers some advice on one way of structuring your novel:

“Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution.”

So why not take a stab at penning a thriller in the next 30 days and see what you can come up with? You might surprise or shock yourself (but not too much, we hope!).

Good luck!

About Paperblanks: When creating our Paperblanks line, we were driven by a desire to keep the beauty of books alive. By drawing inspiration from great artists and craftspeople, our aim is to help you feel inspired and creative every day and to help you create your own personal pieces of art. For more about Paperblanks and our journals, visit our website at paperblanks.com.


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