During the Craftfest portion of Thrillerfest 2010, novelist Gayle Lynds outlined “Nine Secrets to Writing Bestselling Thrillers.”
This editor especially appreciated her tips on the art of thriller villainy. “The villain drives the plot. I’ve seen unpublished manuscripts where the writer doesn’t know they are making fun of the villain–but they are,” explained Lynds. The author of The Last Spymaster cited toupees and bad accents as classic characteristics that spoil crooks in thrillers.
“If you aren’t afraid of your villain, how can your hero be afraid?” she asked. After villains, she moved to the topic of violence. “If you are writing a thriller with violence in it, the ending must be violent,” she explained. “You are delivering a promise to your reader.”
Finally, after all her talk about the darkside, she urged a roomful of writers never to give up. “Do you love this story?” she asked one frustrated author. “If you love it, then you’ve got to write it.”