Chapter 11 of 19 from Dan Brown

Creating Suspense, Part 1

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Using his novel, Origin, and exclusive content from a never-before-seen project, Dan explains how to use parallel plotlines and dramatic opening paragraphs to create suspense that will keep readers turning the pages.

Topics include: Use All the Tools in Your Toolkit • Building Suspense With Parallel Plotlines: Origin • Make Big Promises, and Make Them Early • Promises Case Study: Dan's Young Adult Prologue • Compress the Timeline

Dan Brown

Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers

In his first-ever online class, best-selling author Dan Brown teaches you his step-by-step process for turning ideas into page-turning novels.

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Lessons

One of the things that I thought might be very helpful in this class is to walk you through the process of creating a thriller from the ground up, creating the world, asking the questions, figuring out who the characters are, and just doing that together right here. I can't tell you what your idea should be, but I'm hoping to give you an idea of the process of turning an idea into a thriller. So the first thing we're going to do is to figure out what is the world in which we want to set this thriller? How about if we choose the world of winemaking, for example? I know nothing about the world of winemaking. I love wine. But I do know that the world is filled with a lot of ego, a lot of money, eccentric characters. There's a lot of possibilities in that world. So let's right now just choose winemaking. That's the world in which we're going to set this thriller. So now that we have a world, let's figure out what this question is. What's the moral gray area that we're going to be writing in? In the world of winemaking, it may be using pesticides that could hurt people. Maybe it's that you're promoting a product that's addictive. Another idea might be your moral obligation of how to use your land. Can you use your land however you want? What if that's hurting other people? If there is a river flowing through your property, can you use all of that water to water your vineyard, leaving nothing for the vineyard next door? Or is there a moral obligation, maybe even a legal obligation, to let some of that river flow on to your neighbor's? Doesn't sound like a thriller yet. Sounds kind of boring. But you've got an interesting world. You've got kind of a subtle gray area. Now let's try to turn it into a thriller. So we've got our world, and we've got this moral gray area. Let's come up with a hero. You're in the world of winemaking. An obvious hero would be a vintner, a winemaker. Let's create a hero who is a superb winemaker, maybe world renowned, one of the best winemakers. He has a little boutique vineyard. He's got vines that have come over from Europe three generations ago. His family has been making wine for a long time. And last year, tragically, his wife was driving the airport to pick up his parents, and on the way home they had a car accident. His parents are gone. His wife is gone. He's a widower. He has two kids that he needs to feed. So there's our hero. He's not really heroic until there's a lot of pressure applied to him. We need somebody to apply pressure. We need a villain. We need some extraordinary set of circumstances to apply pressure to this ordinary person. In comes the villain. In this case, why don't we make it some huge corporate agro business that has bought all the land just upstream from him. And maybe they've decided to take all the water in that stream and use it for their business. And all of a sudden you have a hero with two kids to feed who's running a vineyard. And he walks out, and one day ...

Craft page-turning suspense

Packed with secret symbols and high-stakes suspense, Dan Brown’s thrillers have sold more than 250 million copies, including one of the world’s best-selling novels, The Da Vinci Code. In his MasterClass, Dan unveils his step-by-step process for turning ideas into gripping narratives. Learn his methods for researching like a pro, crafting characters, and sustaining suspense all the way to a dramatic surprise ending.

The author of The Da Vinci Code teaches his process for researching and writing novels infused with tension, urgency, and burning questions.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Dan will also critique select student work.

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Dan Brown

Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers