How To Develop The Plot When Writing Thriller Novels

When writing a thriller novel, how does the author set up and develop the plot and build more detail?

The plot can start out with one central idea.

Then, it can develop from that idea, as the writing progresses.

Others will take the basic plot concept and map out the plot in detail, before writing. That can be seen as formulaic. Once the plot is mapped out in detail, then some would say that it becomes writing by numbers. Keen readers will see these patterns in many techno thriller novels and in other fiction too.

My preferred approach is to start out with one central idea, and revitaa pro reviews let the story flow. My techno thriller 'Gate of Tears' was based on the extraction of gold from seawater.

Of course, without a planned ending, you don't know how it will end up. With technothrillers most authors will know that the main character will live for another day. Why let him or her live? Well, it enables them to use the character in a sequel.


'Gate of Tears' is set mainly in the Middle East, where the Strait known as the 'Bab el Mandeb' – its Arabic translation – guards the southern entrance to the Red Sea. There is action in Alaska and Australia besides the Yemen, and the geography helped the plot development.

It would probably be more difficult for me to write a thriller novel that was set in a fairly constrained environment – say a prison.

Then there are other challenges. How can an author deal with a stage in the story where a character has come to an impossible situation? Well, firstly, the author backtracks. Backtracking, or 'unwriting' is not for me – that's cheating myself and also loses an opportunity for deeper plot evolution. So, I wait and think, and sometimes it takes a few weeks to work out an answer (even by adding in some relevant context earlier in the book).

I'll take a notebook and go for a walk. And another walk.

Another issue is 'what happens next'?

A writer could do use Luke Rhinehart's device in 'The Diceman' – identify some options and let the dice decide. It's an approach I haven't used myself, though I do think about options. That's the creative bit.

A fairly recent approach is to let the readers decide, publishing a few chapters at a time and inviting reader comments. I don't favour that.

Technology Influence

With techno thrillers there are other ways of plot development, because the technology itself can tell a story. And, then, if the author has some nous, the writer can extrapolate existing technology. I have a science news blog feed which I follow, and that unearths new technology for me.

Recently, I saw a film of the new Honda robot which can hop on one leg and pour a drink. It was scary, and the weapons possibilities are disturbing (or not – maybe they'd save lives). It's not sci-fi, it's real and here for topical thriller authors now.

The approaches I describe here all help the plot develop , whilst allowing room for the mystical creative aspect. My favourite though, is when I tell the main character 'Now, get out of that”!

James Marinero is the author of ‘Gate of Tears’ – a topical techno thriller set in the Middle East. Espionage, aerial action, gold market manipulation – the

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