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When I hear the term ‘psychological thrillers’, I feel a shiver of anticipation run down my spine. Is it just me? I don’t think so; I’m sure that almost everyone who’s read at least two good psychological thriller books (or even movies) feels the same way, especially those who love the genre.
The term itself makes me feel a rush that I just can’t describe; it means anticipation and intrigue, a lot of thrilling action, psychological twists, unimaginable turn of events, gritty situations, incomprehensible acts of self-preservation and a nice ending that’ll definitely blow the mind. At least for me, this is how I feel when I hear this term.
Being a reader and a writer of this stunning genre, I’ve spent a good many years submerged in it. And needless to say, I have read and watched my fair share of good as well as “bad” books and movies in this genre – psychological thrillers. For me, there’s no bad as such, but I guess there are a lot of books or movies that makes you feel like there was so much room for more and that they fell short somehow.
I’ve been observing all the psychological thriller stories (movies and books combined) like a hawk because that’s what writers do. And for me there are a few things that really make a good psychological thriller:
- Killer suspense.
- Scary as hell and super creepy antagonist.
- At least one vulnerable character for whom I can root for.
- Growth of that vulnerable character into someone who can fight all odds .
- Spooky and chilly settings.
- Crazy situations that I would hate to be in, but would be extremely curious about.
- Mind-numbing anticipation.
- Building frustration that keeps me on the edge.
- One hell of a climax that’ll keep the wheels in my mind running even after I’m done with the story.
These are, of course, only a few things that make for a good psychological thriller, but if the author manages to get at least these elements right, the reader is in for a smashing story.
A few handy things that I feel help a lot in making a book a really good psychological thriller:
- Glimpse into the mind of the killer through a distant or limited POV of the antagonist – just enough to creep out the reader, yet only a glimpse so as not to make the reader feel sympathetic towards him/her.
You can’t feel scared of someone if you feel sorry for them. Hence, a distant POV works best.
- Epistolary elements like letters, or diary entries, or random newspaper articles or bits of transcripts or something like that. These things instantly create a wonderful atmosphere full of suspense and intrigue.
- Creepy and blood-chilling settings. They’ll add a lot of character and weight to the story and create an eerily horrific atmosphere that’ll accentuate the entire story.
- Strong characters. Always. They’ll make the reader emotionally involved with the story and make everything feel personal. That is one thing a writer can’t afford to go wrong with.
- Multiple POVs. It’s always better to know the story from different angles and POVs. It adds spark to the story and provides a deeper understanding to the reader helping them to get inside the story.
- Suspense build-up. Suspense is what takes the story to another level and makes it extremely entertaining. If the author manages to get the balance of suspense and thrills right, then nothing can stop the story from hitting the bullseye.
These elements need a great amount of work, but if done well, they add a lot of weight to the overall build-up of the story.
At the end, the main thing is the story itself, so no matter what you do or how you do it, try to make your story shine and you’ll have a winner at hand.
About Heena Rathore
Heena Rathore Pardeshi is a novelist, novel critic, as well as a book reviewer. She is also the Editor In Chief at a publishing house and an acclaimed YouTube Podcaster. An award-winning writer, she has won several NaNoWriMos and JuNoWriMos since 2014. .
A fan of crime-thrillers, apocalyptic fiction and slasher movies and series, she draws inspiration from the works of legendary writers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Sidney Sheldon. She’s also a fan of Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan.
An introvert and freethinker, Heena prefers neatness to chaos – in her fictional themes as well as in her real life. She has a special place for German Shepherds and books in her heart.
Heena is twenty-six years old and lives in Pune, India with her beloved husband, Vishal – a successful entrepreneur, in a house full of books, music, and love. Heena passionately creates vivid fictional worlds; some to read and cherish, and some to live in.
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A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.
After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, unwittingly to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?
Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.