Michael Connelly’s Top Three Tips for Writing Thrillers

Michael Connelly Signing Dark Sacred Night

Michael Connelly is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Harry Bosch series and Lincoln Lawyer series and has sold more than sixty million copies worldwide. When he isn’t writing novels, Connelly is the executive producer of Bosch, the Amazon Prime Original series starring Titus Welliver and he hosts the brand-new true crime podcast, Murder Book. Needless to say, Connelly knows a thing or two about writing great thrillers—and he shared his top three tips with us here.


1. Less is always more.

Reading in the mystery/thriller genre is always about momentum. How does the writer get it and then keep it? To me, the answer is spare prose. Don’t get bogged down.

2. Character, character, character.

Fantastic, twisty plots are important. But nothing beats character. The reader wants to ride with a character that entertains them, surprises them, makes them want to know more. So don’t short the characters in your book.

3. Write for an audience of one.

Don’t look up. Don’t lick your finger and hold it up to see which way the wind blows. Don’t ask what publishers are looking for. The answer is they are looking for great books. You have to dig it out from inside, not look around at what somebody else did or what the latest runaway success is about. Write for yourself—and audience of one—and trust that if you like it then there will be others out there who will too.


Related: Watch Michael Connelly Talk Murder Book Podcast & Bosch