So You Want to Write YA Thrillers?

Photo credit: @lattefarsan on Flickr
So next up in the So You Want to Write series, a genre that I quite enjoy and am quickly realizing I don’t read nearly enough of: YA Thrillers.

What is it?

YA Thrillers are fast-paced stories, often (but not always) about either a protagonist who ends up in the sights of a killer or a protagonist who winds up on a dangerous revenge-spree. Either way, there’s bound to be a body count, a ton going on, very high stakes (usually the protagonist’s life) and lots of twists and turns that’ll keep you guessing.

Pros/Cons of Writing YA Thrillers:


  • Hasn’t had a major boom (but isn’t dead either). The lack of a major boom thing is actually a pro because it means it’s not oversaturated (or about to be oversaturated). It seems to be selling well enough, best I can tell, so the state of the publishing market shouldn’t be a deterrent. 

  • Fast-paced and very twisty. If you like writing twists and quickly paced books, YA Thrillers may be the sweet spot for you. 

  • High stakes. Personally, I’ve always found high stakes fun to write, and more times than not the protagonist’s life is on the line in YA Thrillers. So again, if that’s something you enjoy writing… :)


  • Complicated balance. A big part of Thrillers is to keep the reader guessing, which can often be tricky to write. How do you drop enough clues and red herrings for the ending to make sense without it being obvious? That’s a question you’ll have to navigate carefully as a YA Thriller writer. 

Recommended Reading:

As I have said before and will continue to do so: you must read the genre you write in. It is so important to keep up to date with what’s selling, what’s been written, what’s been overdone, etc. and the best way to do that is to read as much as possible.

Note: Aside from Far From You, I haven’t read any of the below, but they sound great. And they’re YA Thrillers, at any rate.

Helpful Links:

Do you enjoy reading or writing YA Thrillers? Share your experience! 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Thinking about writing YA Thrillers? Writer @Ava_Jae shares some tips, recommendations and more. (Click to tweet
Do you write YA Thrillers? Share your experience at @Ava_Jae’s So You Want to Write series. (Click to tweet)

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