Carter Wilson | Thriller Author

Think of all the ways to spread an idea and you’ll probably get a consensus that one of the most difficult ways is to write a novel. To express through character, emotion, and story that big idea you have. So many people tell me they’ve always wanted to write a book. So few actually do.

The truth is, writing a novel is not that hard. In fact, putting your story–your big idea–into a 90,000 word narrative that’s actually good–can be done through these seven steps.

1) Make your bed. Every single morning. It’s a small thing, I know, but it’ll establish a little bit of momentum and accomplishment to start your day.

2) Be curious. I started writing out of the blue 20 years ago without any experience or aspirations to do so. I’ve since had eight books published and a ninth on the way. But it took writing that first book–a book that never sold, by the way–to force myself to be curious about the act of writing. Why am I doing this? Should I trust my instinct to continue? Without curiosity, you will never find the passion necessary to write a book.

3) Write for yourself. Tell the story that speaks to you, not necessarily the story you think others want to hear.

4) Write every day. This is critical. Build the muscle. I only write an hour a day, but I do it every day. That’s it. At that pace, you can write a novel in less than a year.

5) Don’t chase perfection. Your book will never be perfect, and the thing that stops most writers from finishing something is that never-ending feeling of it’s not good enough. Just get that first draft done, warts and all. And then as you edit that ugly, ugly first draft…

6) Kill your darlings. Be brutal with yourself as you edit. Challenge every sentence, every word. Delete anything that doesn’t serve your story, no matter how much you may love those words.

7) Finally, embrace rejection. The second hardest thing to do as a writer is to share their work. The hardest thing to do is embrace the rejection that will come, and I guarantee it will come. But within all that rejection lies immense opportunity.

There are seven steps to writing a novel, steps anyone can take. Writing a book isn’t hard. Trusting your instinct to write in the first place may be the toughest part of it all.

Making It Up
A whopping six new episodes of my conversation series Making It Up are out!

This month I chatted with bestselling suspense novelist Kara Thomas (The Darkest Corners), New York Times bestselling author of the Matt Drake thriller series Don Bentley (Hostile Intent), parole officer-turned-novelist Christopher Flory (Trust Misplaced), international bestselling author Rachael (R.H.) Herron (Hush Little Baby), New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (Hollow Beasts), and A.G. Riddle, whose novels have sold nearly five million copies and have been translated into twenty languages worldwide (The Extinction Trials).

All episodes are available on my website, my YouTube channel, and wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

Limited space still available at The Gentle Novelist coaching program & writing retreat, taking place this August 9-11 in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.

And announcing the guest speaker lineup!

Thriller novelist extraordinaire Wendy Walker, whose novels have been translated into 23 foreign languages, topped bestseller lists both nationally and abroad, and have been optioned for both television and film.

David Heska Wanbli Weiden, an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, who is the author of Winter Counts (Ecco, 2020), which was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. The book was the winner of the Anthony, Thriller, Lefty, Barry, Macavity, Spur, High Plains, Electa Quinney, Tillie Olsen, CrimeFest (UK), Crime Fiction Lover (UK) Awards.

And Elizabeth Copps, founding agent of the acclaimed boutique Copps Literary Agency.

We’ve got so much planned for the 2.5-day retreat. If you are finally ready to commit or re-commit to writing your book, this might just be the thing for you. Scholarships/group discounts available.

Full details at

What’s Entertaining Me

Movie: Smile (Parker Finn, Director) I’m not a big horror-movie guy. I suppose I was as a teenager, but nowadays I just get too damn freaked out (go figure). But I do appreciate horror movies that aren’t over-the-top gory and are creative in their approach (one of the reasons I liked M3GAN). I just watched Smile with my kids, and we all enjoyed it as much as we were unsettled by it.

From the website: After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, a psychiatrist becomes increasingly convinced she is being threatened by an uncanny entity. Yeah, that “traumatic incident” was pretty fucked up, and I suggest not eating spaghetti during it. But this was a solid creepfest of a movie, much in the way The Ring was. And the highlight was the protagonist, played very convincingly by Sosie Bacon, Kevin Bacon’s daughter (who enjoys only one degree of separation).  If you like horror but are not into the extreme stuff, give this a watch.

Book: You Always Come Back, Emily Smith (Crooked Lane, October 2023) I got an early look at a debut author’s thriller in order to blurb it, and it was great! It won’t be released until October, but be sure to pre-order or look for it when it’s out. Here’s the blurb I wrote for it:

“Emily Smith’s You Always Come Back is one of those very rare debuts that forces you to lean over and read every single word. A family drama in the ranks of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Smith’s story follows July Weaver’s reluctant return to her family home after vowing never to do so. And who would blame her? The Weaver family has a sordid and heartbreaking past, culminating with the patriarch in prison for a series of murders. Smith’s writing is sublime and, in July Weaver, she pens a fierce, vulnerable, and flawed protagonist who ranks amongst the most memorable in modern-day thrillers. This is a story that will stay with me for some time.”

Photo of the Month (and Update from my Kids)

The kids asked what I wanted to do for Father’s Day. I said climb up 2,768 steps. So off to the Manitou Incline we went!

Update from My Cat and Dog
Friends? Enemies? Depends on the day.

Humor of the Month sent to me by a friend

Other Thriller Authors You Should Be Reading
Hannah Mary McKinnon! The kindest of souls and the darkest of writers–the complete package! And I was lucky enough to listen to her read a chapter of my book on First Chapter Fun, and I assure you nobody can tell a story better.

That’s it for now! Until next month…


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