How To Write a Thriller

I had an opportunity recently to chat with a fellow writer about the elements of a terrific thriller.  We  both agreed on the following points, and that all of these ought to be present:

Get right into the action, and explain later what happened and why; make sure the structure incorporates cliffhangers, a race against time, and danger always lurking near the protagonist; give the protagonist the initiative to solve the problem; make sure the protagonist’s personal stakes are high; make your protagonist plausible and heroic, but not a superhero; and outline very carefully before you start to write.  Of course, as with all great writing, each sentence should be exquisitely written.  The joy of thriller writing is found not only in suspenseful plot but also in the beauty of words in perfect context.