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Wendy Walker on Writing a Thriller that Grabs Hollywood’s Attention
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
September 2019
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
September 2019

Wanting to write a book is a big dream! Wanting to see that book become a movie is a huge dream most authors won't even speak out loud. But admit it! You've thought about it. And now bestseller Wendy Walker is teaching a She Writes University class on how to catch Hollywood's attention after successfully doing so in her own career. 

Get to know Wendy a little bit before her close and make sure you sign up for this exclusive instructional on how to write a book made for the big screen. 

About the Class 

Wendy Walker, whose page-turners have grabbed the attention of Hollywood and been optioned by Eva Longoria and Reese Witherspoon, offers personal and professional insights on how to write a thriller that will know the socks off your readers—and publishers and studio execs. This course is a nuts-and-bolts of thriller writing class appropriate for beginners who want to understand what sets thriller writing apart from other fiction genres, and also for more experienced writers looking to deepen their craft. Walker will address how to come up with an idea, how to grow it into a novel by choosing a narration structure, how to choose which narration style best suits your story, how to handle backstory, how to choose mood and style for each character, writer’s block, and of course, building in plot twists.

Meet Wendy

SW: Briefly set the scene for your writing habits: Where do you write? How do you write? What's your routine? 

Because I have kids in school and college, I tend to write only during the school year, and during the hours they're at school. That means I have to be pretty efficient! I will start as soon as I have an empty house. I make a fresh cup of coffee, then find a good place to sit with my laptop. Sometimes it's at my kitchen table with the door open to the outside. Sometimes it's on a chaise lounge in my TV room. It just depends on the weather and my mood! If there is any noise outside, I find a place where it is quiet. I will write for as many hours as I have. Sometimes 6. Sometimes 4 or 8. I am pretty driven during this time because I know it's all I've got! 

SW: What is the first thing you can remember writing?

A very long time ago (over 20 years) I was home with my first son. He was a baby and I knew I had to find a hobby that I could do at home and that could become a career one day. I decided to write a novel. Having no idea what I was doing, I dove in and started to write a legal thriller (I had been an attorney before staying home with my kids). It was so much harder than I thought because I did not have any tools. I didn't even know how to properly use narration and dialogue. Eventually, I found a writing professor to help me and I got my act together! This is why it's so important to take classes and watch seminars like those offered by She Writes University!

SW: Describe a moment when your own writing scared you or surprised you.

When I switched to writing thrillers, I was surprised at how dark I was able to go into the minds of my characters. It didn't scare me because I knew I was on to something. Although, it did scare some of my friends and family! 

SW: At what point did you begin to truly feel like a “writer”?

I truly felt like a writer when I got my first publishing contract. I know that is not an accurate measure because there are so many great writers who can't find the right home for their work. But having never studied writing, this was an important validation for me to finally have. It took me eight years to get there - and that wasn't even the end of the journey!

SW: What’s one of the lessons in your She Writes University class that you really wish YOU had learned earlier in your writing career?

Wow - so many things! Because I had no training at all when I started, pretty much everything would have been valuable. The one tool I did seem to have was the ability to structure the plot of the story, so I suppose what I lacked the most were things like narration choices, handling backstory and setting a scene. 

SW: Why do you feel it’s important to offer a writing class to other women writers through She Writes University?

When I started writing, nothing like this was available. We did not have the Internet! This was back in 1999. I couldn't just look up information about writing groups or freelance editors or even a how-to guide to writing a novel. I couldn't read an article like this one. All I had were local colleges and people in the community I could ask. I eventually found a writing professor to help me one-on-one through my mother-in-law who had an old friend who also taught at the school. Unless you were enrolled in a college for writing, you had nothing to work with. Women, in particular, need online resources like She Writes University. We still take on 85% of household and childcare responsibilities so our time is restrained and limited. Many of us can't leave for an evening to take a class or meet with other writers. We need instruction that is specific to our needs and we need to be able to access that information when it is convenient for us. That's what She Writes is providing and I am thrilled to be a part of it! 

Make sure to check out Writing a Thriller that Grabs Hollywood’s Attention with Wendy Walker and the seven other classes offered by She Writes University this semester!

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