Screenplay writing books are manifold and there are many good ones available but it is important to ensure that they meet your needs, especially if you wish to know how to tailor them to industry requirements. Genres can be very specific and Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays is clear about defining particular aspects of creating thrillers that are relevant to the market you wish to sell into.

The book starts with a section helpfully explaining what exactly you are learning to write. The definition of ‘thriller’ here embraces that of standard genre studies but does so with a broad base and also a specific one, and one that has a sense of modernity needed in such a competitive industry. So classic thrillers of the type that have defined the genre in the past are mentioned as reference but indications of their current unacceptability in terms of implementation, characterisation and plot revelation are also noted – the past offers welcome background information but the focus is very much on writing a modern film. The definition of thriller lies with the word itself – the film needs to thrill – so Lucy V. Hay approaches this as the definitive way of creating your thriller text, noting, say, the differential between Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), the former a horror, the latter defined as an adrenaline rush of a thrill picture. Breakdowns of the different styles of thrillers are discussed here and show the range of perspectives available – Noir Crime is not the limitation with this particular genre.

Breaking down the elements of the thriller, the creative process is presented in detail, but this isn’t restricted to the screenplay writing itself, it also recognises the need for commercial and distribution awareness. The author clearly accentuates her knowledge of screenplay development but also mentions how to approach the producers who want your kind of screenplay. Understanding the market is essential and Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays does exactly what its title suggests in its second aspect – that of the sell. It offers advice on how to approach the industry and the ways in which a writer can launch their work in a marketplace, whatever its ultimate artistic integrity. So you learn social media, script writing and self-promotion – even if your writing isn’t perceived to be part of the zeitgeist.

There are a plethora of worthy screen writing books available but this one’s strong selling point is that it is so specific. The thriller is commercially popular and has evolved over the years. Commercial aspects are an integral part the creative process and Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays accentuates these. A valuable tome for any budding thriller writer.