3 min read

Everything you need to know about editing a thriller manuscript

An abstract image with swashes of paint, representing the editing process.

Editing a thriller manuscript can feel a bit like defusing a bomb – the stakes are high, and every move you make can have a significant impact on the end result. But never fear – this guide is here to be your bomb squad, helping you navigate the intricate web of suspense, mystery, and tension in the thriller genre. So, slip into your Kevlar vest, and let's dive into the high-stakes world of thriller editing!

Understanding the audience

Thriller readers are adrenaline junkies, seeking stories that grip them from the first page and don't let go. As you edit, remember that this audience craves tension, suspense, and surprise twists. Focus on maintaining a high level of tension, surprising your readers with unexpected twists, and delivering a satisfying climax.

Story structure and plot

Thrillers are all about tension and high stakes. The plot structure should continually raise the stakes, keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and lead to a climax that delivers a powerful resolution.

Is your hook gripping? Does the tension ramp up throughout the middle? Does the climax deliver a satisfying resolution? In the world of thrillers, the plot is your bomb, and it's your job to make sure it goes off with a bang.

Character development

In thrillers, your characters are your bomb squad. Readers need to connect with them, rooting for them as they navigate the twists and turns of your plot.

In thrillers, characters often evolve under high-stakes pressure. Their development should match the escalating tension, leading to surprising yet plausible changes in their personality or circumstances.

Language and dialogue

Thrillers often use sharp, tense language to build suspense. Dialogue should reflect the high-stakes situations, often fraught with conflict and urgency.

Is your language crisp and tension-filled, vividly portraying the unfolding action? Does your dialogue ratchet up the tension and reveal character motivations and conflicts? Getting this right can keep your thriller moving at a breakneck pace.

Theme and message

While the tension-filled plot is central to the story, underlying themes or messages can add depth to your thriller. This could be anything from exploring the nature of fear to tackling moral dilemmas. Thrillers often deal with themes of danger, survival, and moral ambiguity.

As you edit, ensure these themes are woven into the high-stakes plot, adding depth to the narrative and giving readers more to ponder beyond the suspenseful twists and turns.

Crafting believable world-building and resolution

Believable world-building and a satisfying resolution are vital in a thriller. Your world should be well thought out and consistent, and your resolution should provide a satisfying conclusion to the tension-filled plot.

In your edit, scrutinise your world-building and resolution. Is your world consistent and engaging? Is the resolution a fitting conclusion to the plot? Remember, believable world-building and a satisfying resolution are the keys to a gripping thriller.

The importance of editing in thrillers

Editing a thriller manuscript is like fine-tuning a time bomb – every element must work together to deliver a story that explodes off the page. It's about perfecting every plot point, every character moment, and every piece of dialogue until you have a story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.