‘Do everything you can to stop your character from reaching their goal’ – Bestselling crime writer C. L. Taylor shares her writing tips with Author Advice

C. L. Taylor


                                                                         Photo: (c) Jim Ross

C. L. Taylor is the author of three psychological thrillers. Her first, The Accident, was one of the top ten bestselling debuts of 2014. Her second, The Lie, was published in 2015. It was a number five Sunday Times Bestseller, the Kobo Crime/Thriller of the year and the ninth best seller product on the whole of Amazon UK. Her third psychological thriller, The Missing, was published last month. C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

She is currently writing the first draft of her fourth psychological thriller which will be published by Avon HarperCollins in April 2017.

Recently she has run a workshop on how to write a thriller at Chipping Norton Literary Festival and took part in a panel on the best liars in fiction, championing Amy in Gone Girl.

She will also be running a ‘how to write a novel’ workshop in Bristol in the autumn (sign up to join the C.L. Taylor Book Club here).



My Three Top Tips for Writers

1. Make sure your character wants or needs something 
It could be a detective seeking the truth, a singleton searching for love or an abandoned wife trying to find out the truth behind her husband’s disappearance; whatever the situation they must want to achieve their goal no matter what. That drive and desperation will propel the reader through your book to find out whether they are successful.

2. Give your character a flaw or personal issue
It should be something which will make it harder for them to obtain their goal. The detective could hot-headed, losing his patience with witnesses and missing vital clues. The singleton could have lots of barriers up as a result of previous failed relationships. The abandoned wife could be afraid of striking out on her own after years of depending on her partner. If your character changes over the course of the novel (an emotional arc) your novel will be much richer and the reader will emotionally invest in your character.

3. Do everything you can to stop your character from reaching their goal
Put obstacles in their way. Make it hard to them to overcome them, make the reader wonder ‘how on earth will they get around that?’ Give your main character difficult decisions to make – really difficult – the sort where the reader will think your character had an impossible choice to make. And makes the obstacles harder, more difficult as the novel progresses. Their biggest obstacle should occur at the climax to the book – it’s where they fight or chase the bad guy, the love interest says it’s over or the errant husband reveals a terrible truth. When your character overcomes that final obstacle and achieves their goal your reader should feel a sense of satisfaction and pleasure.


You can find out more about C. L. Taylor via her website, Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram.

Her book, The Missing, published by Avon HarperCollins, is available on ebook for £2.99 or paperback £5.59 and is available in all major supermarkets, WHSmiths and independent bookshops. It is also available online from Kobo, iBooks, Sainsbury e-books and Google Play. Click here to go to it on Amazon.


About Donna-Louise Bishop

I'm a writer, freelance reporter, creative writing tutor, and blogger, living in the beautiful county of Norfolk UK. In my spare time I am also a wife, a mother to three boys, and a human washing machine.
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