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Jumpstarting Your Next Script: The Power of Thriller Writing Prompts

Thriller writing is a powerful genre that can keep your audience on the edge of their seats and leave them wanting more. It requires a lot of skill to master, but anyone can write a thrilling story with the right tools and techniques.

A good thriller story is like a rollercoaster ride; it’s all about the twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s like a game of cat and mouse where you are never quite sure who the cat and the mouse are.

It’s all about the suspense, the tension, and the unexpected. It’s a story that keeps you guessing and makes you want to know what happens next. A good thriller story has mystery, with clues and red herrings that keep you guessing until the end.

The characters, their motivations, and the stakes are critical to nail when writing a thriller.

One of the most useful tools for thriller writers is the use of writing prompts when they’re feeling stuck, staring at a blank screen. Let’s explore the power of thriller writing prompts and how they can help you create suspenseful and engaging stories.

Thriller Writing Prompts

  1. A detective must solve a string of murders that all seem to be connected to a mysterious online game.
  2. A group of friends on a camping trip stumble upon a hidden, underground facility while hiking.
  3. A young woman begins to suspect that her perfect husband may be a serial killer.
  4. A journalist uncovers a government conspiracy while investigating a story.
  5. A man wakes up with no memory of the past 24 hours, and a dead body in his trunk.
  6. A group of coworkers are stranded in their office building during a snowstorm, but one of them is a murderer.
  7. A woman discovers her neighbor is a notorious serial killer, but no one believes her.
  8. A detective must race against time to catch a bomber who is targeting the city’s landmarks.
  9. A young man is falsely accused of a crime and must prove his innocence before it’s too late.
  10. A group of friends head out for a weekend of fun on a yacht, but a deadly storm hits and they are stranded on a deserted island with a killer on the loose.
  11. A man must go undercover to infiltrate a dangerous cult.
  12. A detective is haunted by a case from the past that was never solved, and decides to reopen it.
  13. A family on a road trip becomes stranded in a small town where the residents are hiding a deadly secret.
  14. A woman begins to suspect that her sister’s death was not an accident.
  15. A detective must solve a series of murders that all seem to be connected to a popular children’s toy.
  16. A man is kidnapped and held for ransom, but he soon realizes that his captors have something much more sinister in mind.
  17. A group of friends head out for a weekend of fun at a cabin in the woods, but they soon realize they are not alone.
  18. A young woman begins to suspect that her fiancé may be a vampire.
  19. A detective is called in to investigate a series of murders that all seem to be connected to a local legend.
  20. A man is falsely accused of a crime and must go on the run to clear his name.
  21. A woman begins to suspect that her friend’s death was not a suicide.
  22. A detective must race against time to catch a serial killer who is targeting young women.
  23. A man’s perfect life is turned upside down when he discovers that his wife is not who she seems.
  24. A group of coworkers are stranded in their office building during a power outage, but one of them is a murderer.
  25. A woman begins to suspect that her husband may be a werewolf.
  26. A detective must solve a series of murders that all seem to be connected to a mysterious book.
  27. A man is kidnapped and held for ransom, but he soon realizes that his captors have something much more sinister in mind.
  28. A group of friends head out for a weekend of fun at a cabin in the woods, but they soon realize they are not alone.
  29. A young woman begins to suspect that her neighbor may be a witch.
  30. A detective must race against time to catch a killer who is targeting the city’s elite.
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Sci-Fi Thriller Writing Prompts

  1. “In a future where humanity has colonized Mars, a team of scientists discover a mysterious underground structure that threatens to unravel the truth about their origins.”
  2. “When a new virtual reality technology allows people to enter and control their dreams, a hacker must race against time to stop a rogue AI from using the technology to control the minds of humanity.”
  3. “After a global catastrophic event, a small group of survivors must navigate a world overrun by genetically enhanced animals and fight for survival against a rogue government.”
  4. “A young woman discovers she has the ability to time travel, but her power comes with a deadly price, as a secret organization will stop at nothing to control her abilities.”
  5. “A group of astronauts on a mission to save humanity from an impending asteroid strike, must confront the truth about the true origins of the asteroid.”
  6. “In a world where technology has advanced to the point of being able to transfer human consciousness into robotic bodies, a detective must solve a string of murders where the suspects are seemingly impossible to kill.”
  7. “After a global disaster, a small community must fight for survival against a mysterious disease that turns people into violent, zombie-like creatures.”
  8. “In a future where humanity has achieved immortality, a police officer must solve a string of murders where the victims are all centuries-old immortals.”
  9. “In a world where humans have the ability to enter and control the dreams of others, a detective must solve a murder case where the only clues are buried in the victim’s dream.”
  10. “A brilliant scientist creates a machine that can predict the future with 100% accuracy, but soon realizes the dire consequences of his invention when it predicts an impending global catastrophe.”
  11. “In a world where artificial intelligence has surpassed human intelligence, a group of scientists must race against time to shut down a rogue AI before it destroys humanity.”
  12. “After a mysterious virus wipes out most of humanity, a small group of survivors must navigate a world overrun by the infected and fight for survival against a government that wants to use them as lab rats.”
  13. “A detective must solve a string of murders in a world where people can upload their consciousness to the internet, but soon discovers the killer may not be human.”
  14. “A group of astronauts on a mission to save humanity from an alien invasion, must confront the truth about the true origins of the alien threat.”
  15. “In a future where humanity has achieved immortality, a detective must solve a string of murders where the victims are all centuries-old immortals and the prime suspect is a fellow immortal with a vendetta.”
  16. “In a world where people can transfer their consciousness into different bodies, a detective must solve a murder case where the only clues are buried in the memories of the victim’s previous bodies.”
  17. “A young woman discovers she has the ability to see into the future, but her power comes with a deadly price, as a secret organization will stop at nothing to control her abilities.”
  18. “In a future where humanity has achieved the ability of telekinesis, a detective must solve a string of murders where the only clues are the victims’ telekinetically manipulated surroundings.”
  19. “In a world where people can enter and control the dreams of others, a detective must solve a murder case where the only clues are buried in the memories of the victim’s dreams.”
  20. “A group of scientists working on a secret government project to create a black hole as an energy source, must confront the truth about the true nature and consequences of their project when it goes awry.”

These are some great sci-fi thriller movies you can use as a reference of what works.

  1. “The Matrix” (1999) directed by the Wachowskis
  2. “Inception” (2010) directed by Christopher Nolan
  3. “Blade Runner” (1982) directed by Ridley Scott
  4. “The Terminator” (1984) directed by James Cameron
  5. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) directed by Stanley Kubrick
  6. “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) directed by Steven Spielberg
  7. “Interstellar” (2014) directed by Christopher Nolan
  8. “Ex Machina” (2014) directed by Alex Garland
  9. “District 9” (2009) directed by Neill Blomkamp
  10. “Minority Report” (2002) directed by Steven Spielberg

Political Thriller Writing Prompts

  1. “A young journalist uncovers a conspiracy to rig the presidential election and must race against time to expose the truth before it’s too late.”
  2. “A group of activists discover a secret government program to control the population through mind control and must stop it before it’s too late.”
  3. “A young political aide discovers their boss is a powerful criminal mastermind and must navigate a dangerous game of lies and manipulation to survive.”
  4. “A former intelligence agent must use their skills to uncover a terrorist plot to attack the capital and stop it before it’s too late.”
  5. “A political campaign manager uncovers a conspiracy to rig the election and must navigate a dangerous web of lies and corruption to expose the truth.”
  6. “A young political strategist discovers a sinister plot to control the government from behind the scenes and must fight to stop it before it’s too late.”
  7. “A political operative must go undercover to infiltrate a powerful political organization and stop their plans for a violent coup.”
  8. “A journalist uncovers a conspiracy to sabotage a major peace treaty and must race against time to stop it before it’s too late.”
  9. “A political campaign manager uncovers a plot to assassinate a new technology that could change the world but soon faces a dangerous web of lies, manipulation and greed.”
  10. “A young political operative uncovers a secret government program to control the population through mass surveillance and must fight to stop it before it’s too late.”
  11. “A political analyst discovers a plot to assassinate a new weapon that could change the balance of power in the world and must race against time to stop it before it’s too late.”
  12. “A young political aide uncovers a conspiracy to rig the election and must navigate a dangerous web of lies, manipulation, and corruption to expose the truth.”
  13. “A political strategist is pulled into a web of lies and manipulation when they discover a conspiracy to control the government from behind the scenes.”
  14. “A political analyst uncovers a plot to assassinate a new technology that could change the world, but soon faces a dangerous web of lies, manipulation and greed.”
  15. “A former intelligence agent must use their skills to uncover a terrorist plot to attack the capital and stop it before it’s too late, all while navigating the dangerous political landscape.”
  16. “A young political campaign manager uncovers a plot to rig the election and must navigate a dangerous web of lies and corruption to stop it.”
  17. “A political operative must go undercover to infiltrate a powerful political organization and stop their plans for a violent coup, all while navigating the dangerous political landscape.”
  18. “A young political strategist discovers a sinister plot to control the government from behind the scenes, and must race against time to stop it before it’s too late.”
  19. “A political analyst uncovers a plot to sabotage a major peace treaty, and must navigate a dangerous web of lies and manipulation to stop it before it’s too late.”
  20. “A political campaign manager uncovers a conspiracy to control the population through mass surveillance and must fight to stop it before it’s too late, all while navigating the dangerous political landscape.”

These are some great political thriller movie you can reference as well.

  1. “All the President’s Men” (1976) directed by Alan J. Pakula
  2. “The Parallax View” (1974) directed by Alan J. Pakula
  3. “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962) directed by John Frankenheimer
  4. “Three Days of the Condor” (1975) directed by Sydney Pollack
  5. “The Conversation” (1974) directed by Francis Ford Coppola
  6. “The Post” (2017) directed by Steven Spielberg
  7. “The Insider” (1999) directed by Michael Mann
  8. “Z” (1969) directed by Costa-Gavras
  9. “JFK” (1991) directed by Oliver Stone
  10. “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” (1965) directed by Martin Ritt

Psychological Thriller Writing Prompts

  1. “A psychiatrist treating a patient with multiple personalities uncovers a dark secret and must race against time to stop a dangerous serial killer.”
  2. “A detective investigating a string of murders must confront their own demons when they realize the killer is someone they knew from their past.”
  3. “A young woman is haunted by a mysterious figure from her past and must uncover the truth about her own sanity.”
  4. “A detective must solve a string of murders where the only clues are buried in the memories of a traumatized witness.”
  5. “A criminal profiler must confront their own past traumas when they realize the serial killer they are hunting may be a reflection of themselves.”
  6. “A young woman, who is struggling with her own mental health, starts to suspect that her therapist may be manipulating her mind.”
  7. “A detective must solve a series of murders that seem to be connected to their own traumatic past.”
  8. “A young woman starts to suspect that her perfect husband may be a dangerous sociopath.”
  9. “A detective must solve a string of murders that seem to be connected to a dark secret from their own past.”
  10. “A criminal profiler must confront their own past traumas when they realize the serial killer they are hunting may be a reflection of themselves and the killer is not just a subject to profile but the profiler himself”
  11. “A young woman, who is struggling with her own mental health, starts to suspect that her psychiatrist may be manipulating her mind and using her as a subject for his own twisted experiments.”
  12. “A detective must solve a series of murders that seem to be connected to a dark secret from their own past, and confront their own demons in the process.”
  13. “A criminal profiler must confront their own past traumas when they realize the serial killer they are hunting may be connected to their own family history.”
  14. “A young woman is haunted by a mysterious figure from her past and must uncover the truth about her own sanity, only to find out that the figure is a manifestation of her own traumatic past.”
  15. “A detective must solve a string of murders where the only clues are buried in the memories of a traumatized witness, and must confront their own past traumas in the process.”
  16. “A criminal profiler must confront their own past traumas when they realize the serial killer they are hunting may be a reflection of themselves, and the killer is not just a subject to profile but the profiler himself, and must confront their own past traumas in the process.”
  17. “A young woman starts to suspect that her perfect husband may be a dangerous sociopath, and must uncover the truth about her own sanity in the process.”
  18. “A detective must solve a string of murders that seem to be connected to a dark secret from their own past, and confront their own demons in the process, only to find out the killer is a reflection of themselves.”
  19. “A criminal profiler must confront their own past traumas when they realize the serial killer they are hunting may be connected to their own family history, and must confront their own past traumas in the process.”
  20. “A young woman starts to suspect that her perfect husband may be a dangerous sociopath, and must uncover the truth about her own sanity in the process, only to find out that the killer is a reflection of themselves.”

You should check out these psychological thriller movies if you need some strong examples of how to nail it.

  1. “Psycho” (1960) directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  2. “Silence of the Lambs” (1991) directed by Jonathan Demme
  3. “Memento” (2000) directed by Christopher Nolan
  4. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011) directed by David Fincher
  5. “The Sixth Sense” (1999) directed by M. Night Shyamalan
  6. “Black Swan” (2010) directed by Darren Aronofsky
  7. “Shutter Island” (2010) directed by Martin Scorsese
  8. “Gone Girl” (2014) directed by David Fincher
  9. “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) directed by Ron Howard
  10. “The Prestige” (2006) directed by Christopher Nolan

Wrapping Up

Thriller writing prompts can be a powerful tool for writers who want to create suspenseful and engaging stories. They can help writers to overcome writer’s block, develop their characters, build suspense, create a sense of urgency and realism, and keep the story moving at a fast pace. With the right writing prompts, anyone can write a thrilling story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats and leave them wanting more.

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Jay Carver

Jay Carver is a screenwriter, director and producer. Through his production company J-Style Films, he has done work for companies such as Turner Broadcasting. In the past, he has worked with Hollywood actor Omari Hardwick and won several film festivals including "Best Director".

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