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Writing a Killer Thriller: An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  41 reviews
This significantly expanded version of Jodie Renner's popular thinner e-book, the first edition of Writing a Killer Thriller, is four times as long as the original e-booklet, with many added chapters and two appendices.

As of August 30, 2013, this book has 35 5-star reviews and 8 4-star reviews on Amazon, out of a total of 45 reviews (average 4.7 out of 5 stars).
Kindle Edition, 2nd, 186 pages
Published June 9th 2013 by Cobalt Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  215 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great resource for newbies

Very helpful as I drafted my first novel. Provided some great ideas on POV and how to plan out the story arch to keep things engaging for the reader. Thank you!
Emma Sea
Oct 31, 2015 rated it did not like it
I assume the term "an editor's view" is being used ironically, as the book consists of an extensive selection of attributed quotes from other books. Renner does appear to craft a mean linking phrase. Skip this: buy the originals she quotes from instead.

James N. Frey
Donald Maas
Writer's Digest
Jessica Page Morrell
James Scott Bell
Nigel Watts
Hallie Ephron
Jack M Bickham
Elizabeth Lyon
John Yeoman
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent guide to the 'how to do it now' skills of writing crime/suspense fiction, presented in a succinct and readable style. As a story writing coach myself, I often find that new authors don't want theory. They need proven practical techniques - and they need them fast, so they can develop their craft at once. This book supplies everything that a newbie needs.
Michael Burton
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you want to know how to write a thriller, this is a must read. The book outlines all the essential parts a thriller must have. Many examples are given that helps the reader understand the point made. I can't wait to apply what I learned to my own writing.
Julia Ash
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WRITING A KILLER THRILLER helps writers understand the ingredients of a thriller. Very organized and methodical approach to thriller writing. Great read!
Chris Keane
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great primer on the killler genre. Some gems of advice. My only issue is that I wish it were a little more expanded/longer!
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
I read this shortly after finishing Fire Up Your Fiction and found that that most of the same points were made here as well. There were some different quotes sourced from other writing books and a more thriller-oriented recommended reading list, but otherwise, I found this to be thin on content. I started skimming about halfway through and started seeing the same advice from one chapter to the next.
Allan Leverone
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Writing fiction is such an intimate, personal experience that it would be impossible for an author to do it successfully by following a template. It's not like cooking; you don't just buy a book of recipes and get to work.

That said, there is no question a satisfying thriller must contain certain elements. Jodie Renner has de-mystified the process of thriller-writing with WRITING A KILLER THRILLER. This little booklet is packed full of information which is not just useful, but critica
Wonderful book! Writing, plotting, strategizing tips and more were packed in this book. Nicely written and laid out with great examples, both good and bad. It is easier to mention what was not covered and that would be publishing tips which I didn't expect to find in the book. Everything else about writing, brainstorming, creating, building, writing with more impact, writing with shorter sentences for fast paced ride or longer sentences for a slower scene is in this book.

5 Star Favorite from Th
D.J. Adamson
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jodie Renner’s craft book on suspense is now on my bookshelf to take out and remind myself what a suspenseful story should look like. Not only does she offer quotes and instruction from those authors who have excellently gone before, but she also offers plot structures, advice on characters, structure grafts, storytelling grafts, and a consistant reminder to put tension on every page.
Do suspense writers already know some of this instruction? Yes. But what is wonderful is that Renner puts i
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
If you've already read a lot of books on the craft of writing most of the material in this book will seem familiar because Renner has done an excellent job compiling the collective wisdom. If you haven't read a lot of those books, start here and shift right into a high gear. Even if you have read all those books this is a great compendium of advice, a big juicy checklist of reminders, and a revision cheat sheet.
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jodie Renner is a terrific editor, one that I trusted with my last three novels. And her advice columns are so good, I print and save them all. For thriller authors, this will be the best money you ever spend. --L.J. Sellers, bestselling author of provocative mysteries & thrillers
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure what to rate this. It is a great read and has a ton of useful tips, but they are ALL quotes from other books on writing.
Gerald Hornsby
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book. Very useful, and with some great tips.
Francene Carroll
This book is packed with tips and useful advice on how to create suspense and write a thriller. I found it helpful and inspiring. Now I just have to get cracking on that bestseller!
Danika Tres
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Quick note: This is a FREE read if you have Kindle Unlimited!

I am currently revising my novel and decided to read up on adding thrills to my story - let me say that there is an incredible amount of information in this compacted ebook. There are so many tips, many that just seem like common sense to a bookworm, but these are things one tends to forget when standing on the other side of the fence and actually creating the story. It's a given that not all of the tips may apply to my sto
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: how-to-write
Paraphrasing a line from another reviewer ... While this book gives a good general overview of how to write a thriller novel, I wish it gave more in-depth detail on how to craft a thriller novel from scratch. I was quite disappointed to find all the references to other craft books rather than original author craft material.

I enjoyed the author breaking down the various sub-genres of thrillers and giving examples in each.

The bullet-point summary at the end was the best part of the bo
Chris Rhatigan
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a very useful guide with a specific goal of showing how to craft a conventional thriller. Renner takes the reader step by step through the process using illustrative examples to show how it's done. An essential reference book for writers in the genre.
Tere Fredericks
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I Wish I Had This Book in College

Most writers remember when they learned the Narrative Arc, right. As great as my professor was in other ways, lecturing this topic was not one of them. This helped me tremendously. So much I wonder why this isn't required reading.
Glen Robins
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This short how-to guide is a great resource for improving your writing as it is full of helpful reminders and tips to help authors on task with their writing.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it
This is quite introductory, but also useful, my favorite were chapters 4 and 21 on avoiding structure gaffes and other basic tips that I found interesting.
Doree Weller
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lots of good information set up in a way that makes it easy to remember and reference.
John W.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books
You will know after reading the first 21 pages of How To Write A Killer Thriller that you need to start marking the pages, with post N notes, to make sure you don't forget something important.

As you start your development of your book, you will find Renner breaking down the process into key elements for writing a great book. She takes you Step by step through the writing process, from character development to building suspense, you will learn the do's and don'ts of good writing. It doesn't matt
Felipe Lerma
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've read through a lot of the reviews, and do agree some aspects are slightly over-done, but I didn't feel they over-whelmed the work. Of course, I admit, that may reflect my point of learning more than anything else. But I did find samples that were helpful, with a few not so great, but not bad.

My regard for this book is for the author's thoroughness. This applies to both techniques, and resources.

There's a huge compilation of techniques relating to just about everythin
Mahrie Reid
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After 30 years of reading how-to books I was impressed with this one. The collection of all the information into one source, succinctly presented and with lists and check lists, is (as I see it) designed to help writers take there book to the next level up - and get it ready for publication. All the tips were ones I heard before, but the trick to being useful is in the presentation - and I found this one worked for me. I don't know if a newbie would get as much out of it - but it certainly prese ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to write a killer thriller, listen to Ms. Renner. She knows her stuff. I read her blog and found some similar golden nuggets of information in regards to style, pace, conflict and characterization in this book. The key to writing a killer thriller in this book is to make sure each chapter is laced with complex conflict with your protagonist. If you do not have this, the suspense is dead. Period. I really liked the fact when she tells you to, "Vary the pacing". This simply means to sl ...more
Clay Stafford
It’s quick, pithy checklist of great advice for writers of any genre (including thrillers). A great how-to and reference book for writers.

My Review of Writing a Killer Thriller on Killer Nashville
My Other Reviews on Killer Nashville
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: craft
This book offers great practical advice on how to write a thriller, complete with examples and references. The pace is quick and each chapter stands on its own so you can use it as a reference guide. My only minor complaint is that sometimes the author would introduce and cite some book source but not explain it any further. This was rare and didn't hurt the book's point since there are plenty of other examples.
Maybe I'm on craft book overload, but I just had a hard time getting into this book. I've read several blog post by Jodie Renner and she is a pro, but I just didn't seem to pull all that much out of this ebooklet as I'd hoped.

Reads really fast and can't complain about the $.89 it cost. I'll buy her other ebooklets when they are released.
Chris Norbury
Great advice, numerous tips, checklists, worksheets, and a helpful appendix make this a solid guide to thriller writing. Easy to read and understand, Ms. Renner uses examples from bestselling authors plus her own editing experience to illustrate her points. A must read if not a must have for reference purposes.
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Jodie Renner is a sought-after freelance fiction editor and award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides: the multi-award-winning CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS, FIRE UP YOUR FICTION, and WRITING A KILLER THRILLER. She has also published two handy, clickable writers' e-resources, QUICK CLICKS: WORD USAGE - Style and Usage Tips for Busy Writers and Editors, and QUICK CLICKS: SPELLING LIST - Common ...more
“Frey goes on to elaborate, “a thriller is a story of a hero who has a mission to foil evil. Not just a hero—a clever hero. Not just a mission—an ‘impossible’ mission. An ‘impossible’ mission that will put our hero into terrible trouble.” According to International Thriller Writers, a thriller is characterized by “the sudden rush of emotions, the excitement, sense of suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace.” ITW defines thrillers as a genre in which “tough, resourceful, but essentially ordinary heroes are pitted against villains determined to destroy them, their country, or the stability of the free world.” Part of the allure of thrillers, they say, comes from not only what their stories are about but also how they are told. “High stakes, nonstop action, plot twists that both surprise and excite, settings that are both vibrant and exotic, and an intense pace that never lets up until the adrenaline-packed climax.” 1 likes
“5. Clear emotional focus 6.” 0 likes
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