Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 12, 2015

Types of Thrillers

bestsellingthrillerBeen contemplating writing a thriller, so I bought a couple of books to see what I could learn. Matthew Branton explains the type of thrillers that are being written in his WRITE A BESTSELLING THRILLER.

Comic Thriller: Standard thriller components are sued to develop and resolve thriller style plots, but action sequences devolve into farce, played for laughs with often blackly comic outcomes – think of movies like Men in Black.

Historical Thriller: Typically concerned with the great wars, such as, the American Civil War World War One and Two.

Literary Thriller: This is an often misused term. Literary thrillers aren’t simply literary novels which feature a crime, or a couple of gunshots. A literary thriller uses an arcing protagonist in a basic thriller plot, but the conflict is generally psychological in nature, and the progress of the arcing protagonist is psychologically complex- therefore, a literary style is used to exploit nuance, and to carry the frequently negative outcome of literary thriller plots.

Noir Thriller: These use the componets of film noir – an exhausted or disillusioned male protagonist, sometimes a femme fatale – to experiment with the three-act thriller form. They often challenge narrative conventions.

Political Thriller: Exposing what really goes down in the corridors of power, political thriller thrive on devious double-dealing and behind-the-scenes maneuvering. The political appointee must pay lip-service to ethical principles.

Sci-Fi Thriller: An action or combat thriller set in the future. The antagonist typically embodies the futuristic element , whilst the hero tends to be a human very much like ourselves.

Supernatural Thriller: Often confused with ‘Horror’, particallyy in the case of the genre’s finest exponent Stephen King. In a supernatural thriller, the antagonist has qualities which are not gound in nature – for example, a shark with a grudge – JAWS. Or is itself a supernatural entity, like with the telekinesis which over whelms Steohen King’s abused teenager – CARRIE.

There are others: Business Thriller; Action Thriller; Cop Thriller; Spy Thriller; Combat Thriller.

Of course, there’s a lot more than this in the book. 

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Terrific summary of the various thriller genres! I had thought I could never write one, but going through that list, I think I could do a SF one, and I would love to try a comic thriller, too. 🙂


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