Basic Rules of Thriller/Suspense Novels

Posted by Kristen House on October 27, 2019 at 8:00 PM

As a fiction book editor, I work with a range of topics and subjects, but one thing is usually a constant: most of my author clients choose to self-publish their book. In the self-publishing world, you don't have to follow the norms of genre writing to a fault, but it's recommended to stay within or close to the guidelines.

Some thriller/suspense novels I've edited include Love Sick by Autumn J. Bright, Storm by Gurpreet K. Sidhu, and Cornered by Alan Brenham.

Here's what you should aim for if you're writing thriller/suspense novels:

    • Characters must be well-developed. Readers must care about your characters' well-being in order to stay engaged with the story. All characters need to have clear motivations.

    • Plots must be written tightly—no room for flowery prose or unencessary detail here.

    • Suspense is key. Leave scenes hanging to create tension.

Word count: 90,000 to 100,000

Thriller/suspense subgenres include:

    • action
    • conspiracy
    • disaster
    • crime
    • eco thriller
    • political trhiller
    • erotica
    • legal thriller

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Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.

Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.

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