Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction

Patricia Highsmith

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

160 Pages



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Author of Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Found in the Street, and many other works of fiction, the late Highsmith remains one of our very best suspense novelists. In this book, she analyzes the key elements of suspense fiction, drawing upon her four decades of experience as a working writer. She discusses developing a complete story from an idea; what makes a plot gripping; the use (and abuse) of coincidence; characterization and "likeable" criminals; going from first to final draft; and writing suspenseful short stories. Throughout, she illustrates her points with examples from her own work. Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction is an insightful, readable, and candid how-to guide that meticulously depicts the methods and strategies of a modern master.


Praise for Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction

"[This book offers] sensible, good-humored, and practical advice from a distinguished mystery writer. Much of what [Highsmith] says about novels can be applied to short stories."—Damon Knight

"[Highsmith] is no more a practitioner of the murder mystery genre than are Dostoevsky, Faulkner, and Camus."—Joan Smith, Los Angeles Times

"For eliciting the menace that lurks in familiar surroundings, there's no one like Patricia Highsmith."—Time

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Patricia Highsmith

  • Patricia Highsmith published more than two dozen works of fiction, as well as numerous reviews and essays, and was awarded the French Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and the British Crime Writers Associations's Silver Dagger. Her many books include Strangers on the Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Found in the Street.