Writing a Psychological Thriller

A course by Emily Barr
Novelist. Truro, United Kingdom.
Joined May 2021
, Novelist

Learn creative writing techniques to bring mysterious stories to life that grab the reader’s attention from the first page

  • 97% positive reviews (149)
  • 3962 students
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch

Learn creative writing techniques to bring mysterious stories to life that grab the reader’s attention from the first page

  • 97% positive reviews (149)
  • 3962 students
  • 15 lessons (2h 17m)
  • 19 additional resources (9 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

Humans have a need for stories, even scary ones, to make sense of the world around them. Novelist Emily Barr specializes in writing thrillers for both adults and young adults. She has published numerous novels, and won various awards for her work, including WHSmith’s New Talent Award.

In this course, Emily teaches you the fundamental elements of writing a psychological thriller. Write the opening of your own book, a 25-word synopsis, and plan for the rest of your project with an experienced novelist as your guide. Are you ready to take your readers on a thrilling journey?

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Get Ready to Write
  • U3
    U3. The Elements of Your Psychological Thriller
  • U4
    U4. Now Keep Writing
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Begin the course by getting to know novelist Emily Barr. She talks about how she went from a career in journalism to writing and publishing a number of books with international publishing companies. Discover the influences that inspire the work she creates, along with her advice for people starting out with writing.

Dive into what a psychological thriller is and how to go about writing one. Hear Emily’s advice for overcoming creative blocks when writing a book, from setting yourself a writing schedule to avoiding distractions. Then explore how to make sure your story is properly researched, whilst still making progress with your first draft.

Discover the different elements that make up a psychological thriller, starting with the plot. Emily guides you through how to write a dynamic, personal narrative with clarity, tension, and pace, before moving on to your creating a main character that hooks your reader. Learn how to create a setting for your novel based on personal experiences. Then decide on the main theme for your story, and see how to write engaging dialogue. Hear Emily’s advice for writing a compelling first and final page to capture your audience's attention.

Write a 25-word synopsis of your book that can be shared with agents and editors. To finish the course, Emily shows you how to edit your fast draft, and start working on secondary characters and subplots to develop your finished novel.

What is this course's project?

You will write the opening of your own thriller novel, and a clear plan for the rest of the story.

Projects by course students

Who is this online course for?

This course is for anyone interested in writing a thriller novel.

Requirements and materials

No prior knowledge or experience is needed to take this course.

You will just need a computer or a pen and paper, depending on how you prefer to work, along with a notebook for writing exercises.


3962 Students
149 Reviews
97% Positive ratings

Emily Barr

A course by Emily Barr

Teacher Plus

Emily Barr is an award-winning novelist based in Cornwall, England, with over 20 years of writing experience. She grew up surrounded by books and was an avid reader and writer, even as a child. While studying art history at the University of London, she worked for her university newspaper, during which time she won a student journalism award for her work experience at The Guardian. She went on to work full-time for the newspaper and, during her time traveling for her column, dedicated herself to writing what she was truly passionate about–fiction. Emily later found an agent and secured her first publishing deal for her thriller novel, Backpack, which saw her win WHSmith’s New Talent Award.

Since then, Emily’s work has been published by Headline and Penguin, as well as many others worldwide. She also writes horror and sci-fi in the US under the name Evie Green, and is currently working on her 6th young adult book with Penguin.


  • U1


    • About Me
    • Influences
  • U2

    Get Ready to Write

    • What Is a Psychological Thriller?
    • Overcoming the Creative Block
    • Research and Workspace
  • U3

    The Elements of Your Psychological Thriller

    • The Plot
    • How to Write
    • The Character
    • The Setting
    • The Theme
    • The Dialogue
    • The Opening Pages and the Ending
  • U4

    Now Keep Writing

    • ‘25 Word’ Synopsis
    • Editing
    • Introducing Secondary Characters and Subplots
  • FP

    Final project

    • Writing a Psychological Thriller

What to expect from a Domestika course

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Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need to complete a specific project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the teacher and with other students, creating a dynamic course community.

All courses are 100% online, so once they're published, courses start and finish whenever you want. You set the pace of the class. You can go back to review what interests you most and skip what you already know, ask questions, answer questions, share your projects, and more.

The courses are divided into different units. Each one includes lessons, informational text, tasks, and practice exercises to help you carry out your project step by step, with additional complementary resources and downloads. You'll also have access to an exclusive forum where you can interact with the teacher and with other students, as well as share your work and your course project, creating a community around the course.

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Writing a Psychological Thriller. Writing course by Emily Barr

Writing a Psychological Thriller

A course by Emily Barr
Novelist. Truro, United Kingdom.
Joined May 2021
  • 97% positive reviews (149)
  • 3962 students