Margie Lawson

Changing your Writing World

Writing Thrillers and Other Dangerous Novels

Want to write a New York Times Bestseller? Thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels consistently rank in the top 25 books on the NYT bestseller list. Some of the biggest authors in the world write dangerous novels—James Patterson, Agatha Christie, Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts, and John Grisham to name only a few.

Writing a good book with a dangerous edge has both pros and pitfalls. Julie Rowe, author of the military thriller Biological Response Team series and the thriller Outbreak Task Force series, provides a writing master class of information, insight, writing exercises, and comprehensive feedback on your dangerous novel.

What you will learn:

  • The differences between the separate genres and subgenres of thrillers, mystery, and suspense novels
  • Understanding what drives your novel, the plot, the characters, or specific events
  • How to craft a cast of compelling and conflicted characters
  • Where and when to add life-threatening events, attacks, and crimes.
  • various outline methods, and finding your unique planning process
  • How to nail that all important first page of your novel

***Every lesson includes questions and/or writing exercises designed to help you prepare to write (or revise) your dangerous novel.

Who should take this course:

  • Beginning writers who aren’t sure how to start writing a thriller, mystery, or suspense
  • Intermediate writers who want to tackle more intricate plotlines and characters
  • Experienced writers who want to step outside their comfort zone in a difference genre and/or plan an entire series

Course overview

Lesson one: Basic elements of a dangerous novel

  • What makes them different from other genres
  • The major genres of dangerous novels
  • Examples from books and movies
  • Choosing the type of dangerous novel(s) you want to write

Lesson two: Finding your focus

  • Narrowing down your subgenre of dangerous novel to give you a solid base on which to build your novel
  • Examples from books and movies
  • Choosing your unique elements of danger, mystery, and suspense

Lesson three: Who’s driving this run-away train?

  • Plot driven, character driven or event driven – Options for how you develop your novel
  • Examples from books and movies
  • Choose the driver of your story

Lesson four: Character archetypes – the good, the bad, and the ugly and why you need all three.

  • Create a list of the major characters you need in your novel or series, and understand why you need them
  • Shedding light on the wider cast of dangerous characters, including overlooked and underutilized minor characters
  • Examples from books and movies
  • Character development exercises
  • Create character profiles for your entire cast

Lesson five: How did we get here? Using setting to its fullest.

  • Determining how important setting is to your story
  • Does your setting match the other elements of your story?
  • Real versus imaginary places (pros and cons)
  • Examples from books and movies

Lesson six: Wars, disasters and other bad luck – using traumatic events to supercharge the thrill.

  • Designing the right traumatic event for your story
  • Ensuring the event accomplishes multiple goals
  • Examples from books and movies

Lesson seven: Research – how real does your novel need to be?

  • Real versus believable
  • World building (even realistic stories need it)
  • Recommended sources

Lesson eight: Writing an outline that works…for you.

  • Review 12 popular outlining techniques
  • Decide on YOUR outline method
  • Send your outline to Julie for feedback

Lesson nine: Sing loud and proud – turning up the volume on your writing voice.

  • Discuss the elements of a writer’s voice
  • Writing exercises designed to help you find your voice
  • Examples from books and movies
  • Feedback from Julie on your voice with recommended workshops, books, and podcasts for further development

Lesson ten: Writing that first page – where to start your story.

  • Different opening scene tactics
  • Examples from well-known books and movies
  • Send your first three pages to Julie for feedback!


Julie Rowe

Full-time author and workshop facilitator, Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and Fort McMurray, Alberta, where she still resides (despite a wildfire forcing the entire city to evacuate on May 3, 2016). Julie’s debut novel, Icebound, was released by Carina Press on Nov 14, 2011. Ten novels and eight anthologies have followed. Her most recent titles are the MEN OF ACTION boxed set and VIRAL JUSTICE book #3 of the Biological Response Team series. Julie’s articles have appeared in magazines, such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent magazine and Canadian Living.

Julie facilitates communication workshops at Keyano College in Fort McMurray, and has presented writing workshops at conferences in the United States and Canada. She’s also a strong supporter of life long learning and moderates a free announcement loop for the promotion of online classes, workshops and webinars.

You can find her at, on Twitter @julieroweauthor, or at her Facebook page:



Aha! Moment from the EDITS system

5.0 rating
October 9, 2020

The EDITS system is a little bit of magic. Wielding 5 brightly colored highlighters, I marked up my manuscript according to the system and--Voila!--why a scene works, or doesn't, is as plain as blue, green, yellow, pink, and orange. This was my third class with Suzanne and she never disappoints. I highly recommend this class. Expect incisive, kind feedback and quick responses to questions, along with Suzanne's good humor.



5.0 rating
October 8, 2020

I just finished Margie's class, Empowering Characters Emotions taught by Suzanne Purvis and I feel empowered. The class is packed with brillant examples of writing. Suzanne's insight, experience and patience helped me see that my first draft can be transformed into powerful writing.
Thank you Margie and Suzanne!

Lisa Black

Take your prose from wow to POW!

5.0 rating
October 8, 2020

Loved, Loved, LOVED this class! Not only were the lectures all Margie and magnificent but Suzanne Purvis has way of amping up your prose to another level. I'd take it again, just to get Suzanne's feedback. Amazing!


Fantastic class, fantastic teacher

5.0 rating
October 7, 2020

I used to analyze great writers’ writing, to see how they did it. But with limited success, because I lacked tools. It was like trying to fix a car with a screwdriver, and spotty knowledge of auto mechanics. Then I took Margie Lawson’s Empowering Characters’ Emotions class, taught by Suzanne Purvis, which transformed my writing world. Margie Lawson’s lessons gave me advanced knowledge of the craft, along with a comprehensive tool kit, which helped me boost my writing to a much higher level. Suzanne’s guidance and feedback on my assignments gave me even further insight and helped make my writing even stronger. If you’re serious about your writing career, take this class!

Maggie FitzRoy

A Great intro to EDITs with an amazing teacher

5.0 rating
October 6, 2020

I loved this class with instructor, Suzanne Purvis. The step-by-step approach to the EDITs system, sprinkled with lots of great tips for writing authentic emotion made this one of the best classes yet.

Robin Wiesneth

Submit a Review


Ready to fly your writing dreams?

Lawson Writer's Academy has the classes you need to take your writing career to the next level!

© 2020 Margie Lawson, all rights reserved.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram