How to Write a Damn Good Thriller: A Step-by-Step Guide for Novelists and Screenwriters
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How to Write a Damn Good Thriller: A Step-by-Step Guide for Novelists and Screenwriters

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  98 ratings  ·  28 reviews
A quick look at any fiction bestseller list reveals that thrillers make upmost of thetitles at the top. HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD THRILLER will help the aspiring novelist or screenwriter to design, draft, write, and polish a thriller that is sure to grab readers. Frey uses examples from both books and movies and addresses the following hot topics:
*Germinal ideas
*Breathing l...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2010)
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I have studied a lot about writing, read umpteen books on it, but never specifically to my genre. When James Frey's book How to Write a D*** Good Thriller (St. Martin's Press 2010) came out, I grabbed it. What's the first thing I learned? I have been making a lot of mistakes. The next thing I learned was how to fix them. Thankfully, he promised that doing this was 'not brain surgery'.

In this book, Frey reviews first novel writing in general, then thriller in detail. The way thrillers are plotted...more
Kelly  Maybedog
This was terrible, so far the worst book on writing that I've read. I have tons of notes but I'm too irritated right now to write a full review. Suffice to say that when he gave this example, I lost all respect for the book as a useful tool:

He gave an example of his writing where in the middle, without any warning or any text separation or section change, he jumped heads from one POV to another. He pointed out how he did this and how useful it was. This is a BIG no-no and should never be used by...more
Wer schon immer wissen wollte wie ein großartiger Thriller funktioniert ist mit "Wie man einen verdammt guten Thriller schreibt" bestens beraten. Trotz des sperrigen Titels vermag dieses Übersichtswerk tatsächlich eine Idee davon zu vermitteln, wie man das Projekt eines spannungsgeladenen Romans am Besten angeht - und das ist schließlich nicht nur für potenzielle Schriftsteller interessant, sondern für jeden der sich dafür interessiert WARUM Bestseller des Genres eigentlich Bestseller sind.

Margo Kelly
This is a good book for authors to add to their arsenal of writing tools.

While there were some EXCELLENT sections in this book, there were also a LOT of pages of information that were not helpful to me at all. However, the significance of the great sections outweighed the disappointment of the weak sections, and so overall I'm still glad that I invested the time and money into this book.

The excellent sections included:
* How to create a villain
* Exploiting the dark mission of the villain
* The plo...more
Robert Graves
I read this because I am working on my first thriller (my previous novels include two mysteries and one science-fantasy horror), and I found several of Frey's other books useful (THE KEY, HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD MYSTERY, and HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL II). Like those guides, this one offers some useful strategies for thinking about your project along with some good reminders about the basics of the craft of fiction. However, I would rank this book a step or two below the other three mention...more
Smilla's Sister
The only thing I normally don't like about Frey's excellent books is that he comes up with imaginary "novels" he uses as examples to illustrate his points. But in this particular book, even they didn't distract me from enjoying his teachings. In this book, Frey is at his best, showing the priority of emotional connection for successful reading experience. I personally find Frey's books extremely helpful, together with those by Donald Maass, McKey's Story and the writing manual to end all writing...more
Matthew Peters
This book lays out a pretty good plan for writing a thriller. Though the plot developed and used as a template could be more helpful, the general principles are sound and should aid people in their attempt to write good thrillers.
Janett Wawrzyniak
Presenting the map for thriller novel writing is given in examples of sequence. The main ingredient of a thriller is pulse-pounding suspense. The quality of fiction that makes the reader want to turn the pages to see what's going to happen next, is suspense. In a thriller the hero has a mission to foil evil. With types of thriller examples given, this book is informative for rise and falling tension placement. References and many examples are given to build story structure. This book is inspirin...more
Picked this up on a whim and it became my fall asleep book for many months. I think I really wanted to know what made people like to read thrillers.

Mr. Frey's advice isn't anything you won't find anywhere else, but at least he has the common decency to not tell people to cut description ala Elmore Leonard or James Patterson.

The cannon of novels and screenplays he draws examples from were refreshingly diverse, all minor classics in there own right, and some even from the 19th century.

That being...more
Another solid offering from writing-coach extraordinaire James N. Frey. (Not to be confused with the other James Frey, of Oprah fame.) Some of Frey's titles, if you read more than one, start to overlap a bit, but for me that's just a minor criticism, since the advice is usually sound. And his own writing is conversational and direct, which makes them easy to read. This particular title isn't my favorite, but I'm sure it'll be right there beside me when I start working on my next blockbuster.
Michael Mc Donnell
Soom good advice obfuscated by unhelpful biased personal opinion and page after page of useless examples which failed to express the values the author expoused or demonstrate the lessons he was trying to teach. Also a large amount of material rehashed (or straight up cut and pasted) from his earlier books. This was better than his book on mysteries, possibly because he used more film examples which meant the book wasnt unnecessarily padded with his own prose.
Ally Shields
I haven't read his previous books for writers, so I wasn't bothered by redundancy as other reviewers have mentioned. I found his thriller guide to be a great review of things I knew, a source of ploting and pacing devices that weren't so familiar, and a very clear delineation of the thriller genre, complete with many examples. A recommended tool for writers new to the genre or needing to improve their skills.
Tim Williams
A Damn Good book on writing thrillers.
This book is very good at providing step by step instructions and examples on the more abstract concepts for writing not only thrillers, but all novels. The examples from well known books and movies can be a bit daunting to get through, but the examples created within the book from idea to detailed, completed outlines are well worth the read.
Jordan McCollum
Solid, and a good addition to his other works. While it's always helpful to see theory in action in developing a story, it did seem like there was a little too much focus on the example story.

Still, good advice, and it inspired me to get back to my thriller in progress, even if I still don't quite know how to fix it.
Mars Dorian
Solid book with solid advice, but I find his personal thriller examples anything but thrilling.
I also wished it was more in-depth, since creating thrill is all about knowing human psychology and applying it.

It's an ok read if you have access to it, but it's no 'must' read. You can find better work.

Shane Cooper
While it's a build upon his previous work, "How to write a damn good novel", it includes additional food for thought regarding the thriller genre. If you're an author, wanna-be or future author interested in writing this genre, this is a must have.
Robin Spano
Good solid craft book. Fun to read, easy to understand. A bit too step-by-step for my preferred method of writing, but I learned some solid pieces of wisdom and I'll keep this one handy on my shelf for future reference.
Great book. Offers excellent tips to writers and especially for those who want to write action thriller books or screenplays. After reading this one, I plan to go back and buy a few more of his writing books.
Terry Irving
Fast, good advice delivered in a no-nonsense way. Perfect for the person who just wants to start writing TODAY and not after they've thought about it for a decade or so.
Craig Scott
This book got me thinking more analytically about the thriller, as a writer and as a reader. I've made copious notes, and am confident that my product will be better as a result.
Marilyn Dahl
Very helpful. I'm not well versed on a lot of the movies he used as examples, but there are gems in here that are real shiny like.
Robin Martin
See my review of this book in the April issue of Sacramento Book Review and San Francisco Book Review!

Michelle Hansen
I liked this as an extention to How to Write a Damn good novel.
Jeffrey Hammerhead
Excellent how to book. A must read for thriller writers.
David Healey
This is an excellent craft book for any author!
A must-read for aspiring thriller writers
Jodie Renner
A great guide for aspiring thriller writers.
Lauriero marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2014
Brenda marked it as to-read
Jul 20, 2014
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