Three Key Elements of a Successful Thriller Novel

By Pamela Hegarty

Thriller novels range across a spectrum of exciting subgenres, including international thrillers, spy stories, political skullduggery, crime novels, paranormal threats and more.  My personal favorites are quests for artifacts that delve into the meaning of life, the universe and everything.  The three key elements I focus on when writing or reading a thriller are:

1.  Our hero is after a goal that is not so much an object, but the essence of her destiny.  It could be a clue to a universal question, perhaps a terrifying question, such as life after death.  She must succeed to save the lives of others.

2.  The villain is hellbent on obtaining the object of the hero’s quest.  The villain is smart, powerful, ruthless, but he sees himself as the hero, not the villain.  He, too, knows that it is not the object, but what people believe about it, that builds its power.  Possessing the object will give him control of the ultimate power, the power of people’s belief. 

3.  Our hero and the villain battle across that threshold between reality and belief, and pull the reader along with them into a world we know can’t, but must, exist.

3 comments on “Three Key Elements of a Successful Thriller Novel

  1. Thanks for your comment. I think thriller readers want to believe in the world the book creates, and will yearn to go there, especially if the reader relates to the people the writer creates. We all have heroic qualities.


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