How to Write a Gripping Thriller Novel: A Case Study of "Never Let Go" By Lucky Caballero

How to Write a Gripping Thriller Novel: A Case Study of "Never Let Go" By Lucky Caballero


Lucky Caballero

7/2/20233 min read

Thriller novels are one of the most popular genres of fiction, and for good reason. They keep readers on the edge of their seats, eager to find out what happens next and how the protagonists will overcome the dangers and obstacles they face. Thriller novels often involve crimes, mysteries, suspense, twists, and surprises that keep the readers guessing until the end.

But how do you write a gripping thriller novel that captivates your audience and keeps them hooked? In this blog post, we will analyze a sample piece of a thriller novel and see what makes it effective and engaging. We will use the piece as a starting point to create a story outline and discuss some tips and techniques for writing a successful thriller novel.

The sample piece we will use is this:

She lost him in a single moment... she let her five-year-old son out of her sight for the briefest moment and he seemingly vanished into thin air.

Traumatized by the disappearance of her son, Karen Reynolds will do anything to find him. The boy's sudden, mysterious disappearance from a crowded playground makes front page news and Special Agent Max Lawson takes the case, certain that this is no ordinary abduction; the kidnapper’s pathological need for control and punishment for perceived wrongs is too great. On the trail of vicious kidnappers, Lawson learns the chilling truth of Karen’s past . . .

She also might have murdered her ex-husband.

Or at least, that’s what the police and her own family want everyone to think: that she is a violent, unpredictable monster. She’s never stood up for herself, but she’s determined to do it now—even if proving her innocence means taking on anyone attacking her children. When her life is threatened—not by the ones who stole her son, but by her own family—Karen begins questioning everything she thought she knew about those in her life. About herself. About her family.

When Agent Lawson uncovers a horrifying secret at the center of a nasty family war, he knows that the family is hiding something that just might get him killed. Lawson finds himself in a personal crisis at work and at home-as he becomes emotionally involved with the missing boy’s mother, but the case becomes all-consuming as they learn the mastermind behind Kyle’s abduction is plotting one, last, horrific crime- against all who stand in the way.

as they are drawn deeper into a maze of lies, secrets, and deadly choices, overwhelmed by tragedy and betrayal, Karen uncovers a shocking truth: that the acts of violence that shattered her life were a long time in the making and the trail of lies, blame and guilt which follow —are a long way from over.

This piece is an example of a synopsis or a blurb for a thriller novel. It summarizes the main plot points and introduces the main characters and their conflicts. It also sets up the tone, mood, and genre of the story. Let's see how it does that.

First of all, it starts with a hook: "She lost him in a single moment..." This sentence immediately grabs the reader's attention and makes them curious about what happened. Who is she? Who did she lose? How did she lose him? Why did it happen? The hook also establishes the main premise of the story: a mother's desperate search for her missing son.

Next, it introduces the main characters: Karen Reynolds, the mother; Kyle Reynolds, the son; Max Lawson, the agent; Kyle\s father and stepmother, the family and the kidnappers. It also gives some background information about them: Karen's past as a possible murderer; Kyle's disappearance from a playground; Lawson's expertise in abduction cases; the families bitterness, the father and his jealous wife and the kidnapper's motives and methods. These details help to flesh out the characters and make them more realistic and relatable.

Then, it raises the stakes: Karen's life is threatened by her own family; Lawson's life is endangered by a family secret; Kyle's life is in danger from a ruthless kidnapper. The stakes are what make the readers care about what happens to the characters and what drives them to take action. The higher the stakes, the more tension and suspense there is in the story.

Finally, it promises twists and surprises: Karen discovers a shocking truth about her past; Lawson uncovers a horrifying secret about the family; Kyle's abduction is part of a bigger plot. The twists and surprises are what keep the readers guessing and interested in how the story will unfold. They also add complexity and depth to the story.

Now that we have analyzed the sample piece, let's use it as a basis to create an outline for our story. An outline is a tool that helps us organize our ideas and plan our story structure. It can be as detailed or as simple as we want it to be.

Join me next week in showing how to outline your novel!