I don’t recommend many books on writing, but this one is an exception. Carolyn Wheat’s HOW TO WRITE KILLER FICTION is an excellent analysis, not only of the difference between mystery and thriller, but also of plot structure.
Wheat calls each act an “arc” and lays out the elements of each. It’s a highly worthwhile investment. Over the years, I’ve simplified that structure into three “acts,” and while I generally don’t outline in advance, I do try to work out the final scene of each “act” before I begin. I call them my “tent pole” scenes, and I write toward each. It helps break down a novel into much more manageable sections.
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