Crime Thriller Story Ideas That Captivate Us

10 crime thriller story ideas

Looking for fascinating crime thriller story ideas? Read on for prompts like two pseudo-famous people (Instagrammers or Tik-Tokers) receiving anonymous, separate invitations to a secluded island only to get ensnared into a web of shady dealings, and many more!

Related posts:
Detective Noir Writing Prompts
Chilling Urban Legend Writing Prompts
Psychological Thriller Writing Prompts
Engrossing Serial Killer Story Ideas

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The Definition of Thriller Story

Thriller stories evoke feelings of suspense, excitement, anticipation, and also dread, keeping the audience on the “edge of their seats” while the narrative progresses to a climax. They often employ themes like concealment of vital facts and a villain-driven storyline.

The Silence of the Lambs is quite literally the thriller writer’s bible due to the amount of intimate details it contains. A more recent example is Gone Girl, a thriller story with various twists and engaging writing that will keep readers guessing up till the end.

How to Write a Good Thriller Story?

Whenever you start sitting in front of your computer to write a good thriller story, think about this:

For me, a good thriller must teach something about the real world.

– Dan Brown

When the stake feels real and the details seem intimate, that’s when a thriller comes alive. You can also utilize various literary tactics commonly used in thriller stories to make the narrative jumps out at the audience and pump the adrenaline: red herrings, narrative twists, unreliable narrators, and cliffhangers.


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So, those are the components of a captivating thriller story: a stake, realistic details, and arrest your readers attention using various literary tactics.

Crime Thriller Story Ideas

Without further ado, below are some crime thriller story ideas that will keep your readers or audience on the edge of their seats.

Please note that the genders in these prompts are just placeholders and are not meant to enforce any hurtful stereotypes nor offend anyone.

Hostage Situations

First, let’s have some hostage situations. Throw in some interesting characters, and you’ll have a riveting crime thriller story!

  • Two strangers have to band together for survival when the restaurant’s disillusioned chef takes all of the patrons hostage. Introduce some twists, like what if one of them is the chef’s accomplice, or what if one of them was the chef’s ex-lover?
  • When two pseudofamous people (Instagrammers or Tik-Tokers) receive invitations to discuss an endorsement deal, they find out that it’s actually an offer to battle each other in a wicked game, with a group of paid patrons watching.
  • In order to go viral, an influencer issues a disturbing challenge. Their budding fans accept the challenge and furthermore, some take it to an extreme, which might cost the influencer their life.
  • A detective becomes obsessed with a key witness to the point of fabricating and masterminding serious threats against her well-being, so that he has a reason to whisk her away to presumed safety. (Originally appeared on my post Detective Noir Writing Prompts.)

Ticking Clocks

Secondly, ticking clocks in crime thriller stories are always fun! Having your characters interact within a limited timeframe adds instant drama and also suspense to a crime thriller story.

  • The daughter of a late mafia boss has to go on a run when the rest of the family learn that the late mafia boss has left everything to her. And then, she ends up getting help from the most unexpected people (the butler, the family’s rival, the local priest, et cetera.)
  • Following a horse-riding accident, a tired housewife of three children begins having flashbacks of memories from her past life before discovering that she’s actually an undercover spy, brainwashed into living a normal person’s life by the man who is none other than her husband. And she must figure out what happens before her husband is aware that she’s slowly gaining her real memory back. (Originally appeared in my post Spy Writing Prompts and Story Ideas.)
  • In a small town with active minefields, a robber takes two children hostage and escapes into one of those fields.
  • A programmer must write herself into the web of codes that made up a sinister virtual reality game and attempt to save her boyfriend before the game deletes him for good. Will she succeed or will she be deleted, too?
  • A wealthy man accidentally learns that his skydiving instructor is intent on killing him at the behest of his business rival. The only problem? He’s already parachuting down.

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OKAY! So, to continue down our list of PROMPTS…

Serial Killers

Thirdly, no crime thriller story is complete without serial killers, where the typical motivation is psychological fulfillment. (If you wanna learn more about this genre, then give my post Serial Killer Story Idea a read!)

  • When a group of troubled individuals simulate a thriller/horror author most horrifying plot in real life setting, it’s up to the author to work with authorities to catch them.
  • A college student investigates the digital breadcrumbs left by a series of indecent incidents involving her sorority sisters. When some of them turned up dead, the student has to take her investigation up a notch.
  • During a layover in a foreign city, a serial killer who targets stewardesses finally meets his match when a stewardess he’s targeting fights back. It soon becomes a deadly game of cat and mouse in a city that’s foreign to the both of them.
  • A retiree in a sleepy little beach town starts questioning the disappearance of some local folks, which is related to a cult founded by the retiree’s only friend, and the sheriff of that little town.

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More Ideas!

There they are, 10 crime thriller story ideas. From angels to mob bosses to teens to retirees, I believe that there’s something for everyone. Now, get started on that project already while your creativity is flowing!

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If you need more writing prompts, then feel free to check these out:

Questions? Feedback? Please leave a comment below, or contact me here!

Until next time!

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