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:



Exactly what I needed

5.0 rating
July 30, 2020

I am so glad I found this course. I had done some preliminary work on a thriller but was having trouble finding the 'heart' of my story and consequently, everything I tried fell short. Along comes Julie with her way of making you look at your story, characters, etc., from a different angle. Take this course! No matter your genre, your writing will improve.

Beverly Turner

This class should come with a warning label!

5.0 rating
June 1, 2020

CAUTION! Only for authors who want to amp up their dreary and dull novel to a red-hot-heart-thumping-thriller! Julie Rowe helps you delve deep into your novel. LOVED it!

Dee Armstrong

No Matter the Genre, Take This Class

5.0 rating
May 10, 2020

Julie's style of teaching is exactly what I needed in this class. Rather than writing 500 words and having your work topographically examined, Julie makes you dig deep into your story. What are you writing? Why are you writing it? What message are you trying to get across to the reader? Every novel needs suspense. Julie helps you dig it out from within your own words. No matter your genre, you need to take this class!

Robin Olson

I loved this class!

5.0 rating
May 4, 2020

I had nearly decided not to take anymore classes because my last two experiences had been less than stellar. In both classes, the teacher had us pair up and then our partner critiqued the assignment before we sent it in to the instructor. That's great if you have a good partner. I didn't so I didn't get reviewed. In Julie's class we sent the assignments to her. She then sent us back good, positive as well as corrective feedback. I learned so much. I was especially impressed when she took the time to read my ten pages (5500 words) and give me constructive criticism that has really helped improve the book. I would recommend Julie's classes to everyone.

Kristine Frost

Absolutely invaluable course for someone writing a thriller!

5.0 rating
May 4, 2020

Julie's responses were prompt, insightful and thorough. She gave me clear direction in my writing.

Stacey Jackson

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