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

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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). Whether yo 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). Whether you’re planning your first novel or revising your fourth, you’ll discover lots of concrete ideas here for taking your fiction up a level or two, captivating readers, and gaining fans. Both published and aspiring authors of fast-paced, popular fiction will find these tips indispensable, and the reader-friendly format makes it easy to zoom in on specific advice, with examples, for creating compelling characters, planning a high-stakes plot, writing a riveting opening, ramping up the tension and intrigue, picking up the pace, revising for power, and creating a page-turner that sells. “Finally, someone who understands the thriller! More than ever an author must also be his own best editor and Jodie Renner is there to help. Writing a Killer Thriller should be on every thriller writer’s desk. It breaks down the thriller into its must-have component parts to write a scintillating, edge of the seat novel that will get readers buzzing and sales flowing.” ~ Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author of The Jury Master and Murder One “Writing a Killer Thriller by Jodie Renner is an in-depth journey through each component of the thriller. Renner breaks down the process into key elements, each essential to keeping the reader turning those pages. From character development to building suspense, Writing a Killer Thriller should be on the desk of every thriller author out there. A staple for the beginner, a refresher for the pro.” ~ Joe Moore, #1 Amazon and international bestselling co-author of The Blade and The Phoenix Apostles “Writing is hard, editing harder, and self-editing almost impossible. Writing a Killer Thriller demystifies each of these steps on the road to a published manuscript. Read this book. It will help you now and for many years to come.” ~ DP Lyle, Macavity Award winning and Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Benjamin Franklin, Scribe, and USA Best Books nominated author of the Dub Walker thriller series “A killer of a thriller guide! Jodie Renner lays out, in clear, easy steps and lists, how the best writers craft their works of art – and shows how you can do it, too. A terrific how-to in avoiding the pitfalls and burnishing the gotta-haves of writing a bestselling thriller novel, by an editor who knows her way around action, drama and creating characters so fresh and real you’ll swear they were your friends.” ~ Shane Gericke, national bestselling and No. 1 Kindle bestselling author of Torn Apart


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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). Whether yo 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). Whether you’re planning your first novel or revising your fourth, you’ll discover lots of concrete ideas here for taking your fiction up a level or two, captivating readers, and gaining fans. Both published and aspiring authors of fast-paced, popular fiction will find these tips indispensable, and the reader-friendly format makes it easy to zoom in on specific advice, with examples, for creating compelling characters, planning a high-stakes plot, writing a riveting opening, ramping up the tension and intrigue, picking up the pace, revising for power, and creating a page-turner that sells. “Finally, someone who understands the thriller! More than ever an author must also be his own best editor and Jodie Renner is there to help. Writing a Killer Thriller should be on every thriller writer’s desk. It breaks down the thriller into its must-have component parts to write a scintillating, edge of the seat novel that will get readers buzzing and sales flowing.” ~ Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author of The Jury Master and Murder One “Writing a Killer Thriller by Jodie Renner is an in-depth journey through each component of the thriller. Renner breaks down the process into key elements, each essential to keeping the reader turning those pages. From character development to building suspense, Writing a Killer Thriller should be on the desk of every thriller author out there. A staple for the beginner, a refresher for the pro.” ~ Joe Moore, #1 Amazon and international bestselling co-author of The Blade and The Phoenix Apostles “Writing is hard, editing harder, and self-editing almost impossible. Writing a Killer Thriller demystifies each of these steps on the road to a published manuscript. Read this book. It will help you now and for many years to come.” ~ DP Lyle, Macavity Award winning and Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Benjamin Franklin, Scribe, and USA Best Books nominated author of the Dub Walker thriller series “A killer of a thriller guide! Jodie Renner lays out, in clear, easy steps and lists, how the best writers craft their works of art – and shows how you can do it, too. A terrific how-to in avoiding the pitfalls and burnishing the gotta-haves of writing a bestselling thriller novel, by an editor who knows her way around action, drama and creating characters so fresh and real you’ll swear they were your friends.” ~ Shane Gericke, national bestselling and No. 1 Kindle bestselling author of Torn Apart

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heather Hunter

    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!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julia Ash

    WRITING A KILLER THRILLER helps writers understand the ingredients of a thriller. Very organized and methodical approach to thriller writing. Great read!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Armand Rosamilia

    The resources in the back of the book are worth the price alone. reading this book straight through will give you everything you need to create a book or series of books readers will want more and more of. I'm glad I bought a print copy because I highlighted many parts for future reference. A must-have! The resources in the back of the book are worth the price alone. reading this book straight through will give you everything you need to create a book or series of books readers will want more and more of. I'm glad I bought a print copy because I highlighted many parts for future reference. A must-have!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    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 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

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Yeoman

    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. 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burton

    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. 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Keane

    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!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bryn

    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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Allan Leverone

    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 critical to the suc 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 critical to the success of any thriller writer, whether just starting out or a veteran of many books. WRITING A KILLER THRILLER proceeds logically, starting out with what might seem obvious at first glance but really is not - explaining the difference between a mystery and a thriller. The booklet then addresses issues critical to the success of your thriller, like the importance of conflict, how to heighten suspense, and techniques to use which will keep readers compulsively turning the pages. I've worked with Jodie in the past, she helped me transform THE LONELY MILE from a good book to a "gripping and unnerving" Amazon bestseller, and I look forward to working with her again. But if you want to avail yourself of the knowledge of one of the best freelance thriller editors in the business, you couldn't ask for a better deal than WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, especially for such short money.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathrynn

    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 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 This Reader.

  11. 4 out of 5

    D.J. Adamson

    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 it out 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 it out simply for the novice to learn and the professional to use as a rewrite check.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    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. 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.

  13. 5 out of 5

    L.J.

    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

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gerald Hornsby

    Enjoyed this book. Very useful, and with some great tips.

  16. 5 out of 5

    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!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Danika Tres

    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 story but the t 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 story but the tips may help in a future novel. Highly recommended if you're writing a novel, especially in the revisions phase, and/or short on word count.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    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 book. Overall, 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 book. Overall, 2-1/2 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kumar Kinshuk

    Generally we give our work to an editor and forget about it. We have faith in her ability to look at the book dispassionately, and to make relevant changes. What if an editor gave you tips and tricks of her trade? It would help us become better at our craft. This book is absolutely wonderful, and it could be followed time and again to go back and learn once again. Recommended for all thriller and mystery writers!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Moon Petrie

    Pretty good. Would have been more useful to me if I was writing a novel for the first time. There was a lot of 101-level information, but there were a lot of thriller-specific suggestions as well, so it still had value to me (a person who has written fantasy but is planning to write a thriller for the first time).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris Rhatigan

    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. 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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tere Fredericks

    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. 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.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Me

    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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Glen Robins

    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.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Doree Weller

    Lots of good information set up in a way that makes it easy to remember and reference.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Janice Boekhoff

    Lots of information that you might see in many different books, but all compiled in one place to tighten your writing and increase the suspense in your novels.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rob Jacobs

    Very helpful. Could've gone deeper into the ideas. Very helpful. Could've gone deeper into the ideas.

  28. 5 out of 5

    John W.

    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 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 matter what you are writing Renner's book will give you the tools to make it better. It doesn't matter if you are writing or thinking about writing a book of any genre. Anyone looking to write needs to have, Fire Up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller, on their desk to refer to for guidance and resources. You will find Renner's book easy to follow, as she openly shares her knowledge resources with the aspiring writer. Writing A Killer Thriller, takes the mystery out of the steps to writing a manuscript with a solid, strong plot, characters readers can identify with, and suspense with twists and turns from the first page to he end. Jodie Renner shares her knowledge in a manner that will you plan your story or she will help you resolve a problem that has been a roadblock. It doesn't matter what you are writing Renner's book will give you the tools to to make it better. This book is a must read providing guidance as you begin writing your first novel and all the novels that follow. Renner's resources alone earn Writing a Killer Thriller a 5 star rating.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Felipe Lerma

    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 everything, pov, sentence structu 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 everything, pov, sentence structure, pacing, and more. It was particularly nice to see for the first time, a description of the type of short chapter, quick scene changes I'm favoring more and more, as a reader and a writer: jump cuts. For resources, besides organizations and blogs for writers, the author lists an extensive array of thriller sub-types, with early authors of, sample current authors of, and and sample book titles (not movies). I didn't think I'd care much for this section, but found it not only interesting, but worth more than a few pointers at work I think I'd like to try out. I do think this book and Rob Parnell's "Easy Way to Write Thrillers" are complimentary, not exclusive. So I would definitely recommend both.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mahrie Reid

    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 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 presents a guide for things you should really learn if you are writing. I got 12 scene ideas, a sub-plot possibility and an idea for the beginning of my WIP. Great read as you plan your story OR as a check up once you've written the book. Highly recommended.

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