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WRITE HABIT: #NYSCBWI15 MYSTERY AND THRILLER WRITING EXERCISES By Ben Rosenthal, Sr. Editor at KT Books


I love me a good mystery. Thrill me and I’m yours ’til the end of the book, AND if my bookshelf is loaded with them, I’m yours 'til you stop writing.

But how do we, as writers, create these thrillers and mysteries? Last week, I spent some time dispatching Katherine Tegen Books Senior Editor, Ben Rosenthal’s words of wisdom, and now I bring you some writing exercises he suggested.


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WRITING EXERCISES from Ben Rosenthal, Senior Editor at Katherine Tegen Books

  1. Read the first line of your novel. Do you want to hear the next line? Write several first lines until you have one that screams, “YES!” to the question.
  2. Create multi-dimentional heroes and villains. Write down their defining qualities. Then, write down the opposite of that. Now, create a scenario in which your protagonist and antagonist demonstrate the opposite qualities you have identified.
  3. Write down a list of characters in your novel. Pick a character that is either an ally or enemy of your hero. Find a scene with both characters. Rewrite the scene with different motivation for the secondary character or the hero. You might just locate a plot twist.
  4. Write a dialogue in which each of the two characters has a secret. Don’t reveal the secret, but make the reader figure it out.


Good luck and let me know how if these exercises work for you or share some other techniques in the comments!

Talk to you soon,


Kim Briggs

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