Margie Lawson

Make your writing soar


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

Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She is the author of the Biological Response Team series, The Outbreak Task Force series, and the Trapped with Him series. You can find out more about her books at her website, on Twitter @julieroweauthor, or at her Facebook page:




Absolutely invaluable course for someone writing a thriller!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
May 4, 2020

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

Avatar for Stacey Jackson
Stacey Jackson

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