Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 18, 2015

Writing A Damn Good Thriller


From New Yorker Magazine

how to writer a dammn good thrillerHere is an excerpt from one of the “how to write” thriller books I bought recently.

While the opening of a story might be the most important part, the climax in most books is the most exciting. I have been toying around with writing a thriller, so I went to James N Frey’s book WRITING A DAMN GOOD THRILLER to get some tips.

1. In almost all damn good thrillers, the hero is nearly killed in the climax but then manages to kill or capture the villain and foil his evil plot. Audiences love this.

2. In the climax of a damn good thriller, good prevails over evil. Audiences love this, too. In fact this is one of the oldest conventions in storytelling.

3. Damn good thriller climaxes have surprises.

4. The climax of a damn good thriller is not just more of the same old stuff we’ve seen before. When crafting the climax, you have a considerable challenge. The confrontation with the villain should be done in a fresh, innovative way. There are many tens of thousands of thriller, almost all ending with the direct confrontation between the hero and the villain. It’s difficult to find a fresh way to handle this situation, but it can be done. Often when attempting fresh, writers go for the implausible – resist.

5. Sometimes a hero experiences a loss at the climax.

6. Sometimes the hero dies in the climax

This is probably something you already knew, but sometimes it is good to read again to re-enforce what you know.


James N. Frey is the author of internationally bestselling books on the craft of fiction writing, including How to Write a Damn Good Novel, How to Write a Damn Good Novel II: Advanced Techniques, and The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth. He is also the author of nine novels, including the Edgar Award-nominated The Long Way to Die. He has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Extension, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Oregon Writers’ Colony, and he is a featured speaker at writers’ conferences throughout the United States and Europe.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Well, other than the swear word you used, this was a great post! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Reblogged this on themonsterunleashed and commented:
    All good points if your writing a thriller!


    • B.B.

      Thanks for stopping by and reblogging.


      Liked by 1 person

      • No problem Kathy! Thanks for the great article 🙂


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