David BaldacciTeaches Mystery and Thriller Writing

David BaldacciTeaches Mystery and Thriller Writing

18 Lessons

Bestselling thriller author David Baldacci teaches his process for writing a novel that grips readers through mystery, suspense, and plot twists.


A downloadable PDF companion with reading lists, writing exercises, and insights into the publishing industry.


Learn on your own terms, at your own pace, on mobile, desktop, or Apple TV.

Lesson Plan

  • 01


    Meet your new instructor: David Baldacci, the New York Times–bestselling author of 38 thrillers to date. David starts with an overview of his class and his hope that you’ll overcome any doubts you have about writing.

  • 02

    Finding the Idea

    You want to write—but how do you find your idea? David walks you through his daily practice of looking at the world through what he calls the “writer’s prism.”

  • 03

    Research Methods and Sources, Part 1

    Firsthand research brings depth and breadth to your story. David discusses why he recommends visiting locations in person, talking directly to people, and creating a battle plan.

  • Show all 18 Lessons

    • 04

      Research Methods and Sources, Part 2

      Building on the previous lesson, David provides practical tips for finding sources and getting the most out of interviews.

    • 05


      David shows you how he writes outlines, emphasizing that it is an ever-evolving process.

    • 06

      Constructing Chapters

      The first chapter of your book should be a touchstone. David talks about how to open with a “big pop” and how to reference that opening in the rest of your chapters.

    • 07

      Pacing, Tension, and Suspense

      How do you keep readers on the edge of their seats? David shares how he builds suspense, using such strategies as red herrings, plot twists, cliffhangers, and a ticking clock.

    • 08

      Creating Compelling Characters

      David describes the tools he uses to create compelling characters: Expect your characters to change, allow them to have flaws, and give equal importance to your sidekicks and antagonists.

    • 09

      Crafting Dialogue

      Become a student of humanity. Learn how to deepen your characters by writing believable dialogue.

    • 10

      Writing Action

      Action in your story can reveal information about a location, someone’s motivation, and someone’s special skills. David explains how you can use choreography and pacing to maximize the impact of your story’s action.

    • 11

      Writing Process

      David began writing when he was a full-time lawyer. He encourages you to be creative about making time to write and finding a writing process that works for you.

    • 12

      Editing and Revising

      David shares his approach to editing and revising his novels, and why he enjoys the process.

    • 13

      Working With an Editor

      Personal chemistry is critical when it comes to working with an editor. David talks about what to consider when you look for an editor and how to build a real partnership.

    • 14

      Navigating the Publishing Business, Part 1

      David offers rare insight into the inner workings of the publishing world, including how to find an agent, how to navigate rights, and how to best promote your book.

    • 15

      Navigating the Publishing Business, Part 2

      Adding to his advice on how to run your own writing career, David explains the importance of forming relationships with both booksellers and fans, and discusses how to use new platforms.

    • 16

      Writing a Series

      Should you turn your novel into a series? David takes you through the decision-making process.

    • 17

      Life as a Writer

      David opens up about his journey as a writer, talking about passion, rejection, and how to stay authentic.

  • 18

    Follow the Words

    David believes the world always needs fresh voices. He offers his final words of encouragement for all aspiring writers.

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David Baldacci

Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing

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