The List: Every Writer’s Friend

You’re writing a book.  You’re loving it.  It’s great.  Hemingway would pat you on the back.  Christie would applaud your twists and turns.  . . . Your readers are scratching their heads.  When/how did Monty’s wife, Judith, become Barbara?  Cara was living in a flat in Chelsea.  How’d she end up in Greenwich?

Accuracy and consistency are important.  Both lend themselves to professionalism, something every writer—aspiring or published—should embrace.  There’s nothing more off-putting than reading something and finding it filled with irregularities . . . also known as glaring mistakes.

You want people to remember you and your work—for the right reasons.

I believe in lists and summaries.  But that’s so much more work!  I hear the groans.  Yes, it is, yet not really.  If you set up a chart, you only need add a few words here and there.  In that chart, you list points, ideas, descriptions.

1clipartlibrary (1)Having a list for characters—in my humble opinion—is necessary.  Note each one’s name (!), appearance, traits, idiosyncrasies, and significant events that made them what they are.  A quick example:

 JOHN SMITH

    • pale blue eyes, wavey blond hair below the ears, chubby at 5’7”
    • 38 years old; born in London; parents dead (mother hit by car when he was 10; father died from colon cancer)
    • likes dogs, hates cats (with a passion)
    • is a teacher by day, killer by night . . .

You get the idea.  The same holds true for a summary.  Have a list that breaks down chapters into scenes and note what happens.  It will help not have David finding Jessie’s body in a well in Chapter 3 and then finding Jessie’s body in a cellar in Chapter 10.  😉

Again, the summary / chapter list can be quite simple, a few words here and there.  Something like this works:

CHAPTER 4, SCENE 3    October, Thursday 10:30 a.m. – breezy and cloudy / Jeremy meets with Lester at a beachside bar; they theorize about the murder (how did the body end up in the cave / what is the significance of the star etched into the victim’s forehead / why can’t they determine the identity of the victim).

A summary / chapter list will help you see how your plot and book have progressed.  It will be simpler to determine if something is missing or seems incomplete.

Holes in a garment can be fixed; holes in a published book not so much.  A list for a writer can prove your best friend.  It won’t let you down.  😊

What’s in a Name?

Not much if—as writers—we use it so frequently that it detracts from the storyline.  It’s like overusing the comma, dash, hyphen, or “he said” and “she said”.  Overuse of anything lends itself to tedium.

There are many great storylines out there, but they get lost through repetition.  If readers find a multitude of references to good ol’ Roger on one page, they may not be tempted to read through to the end.  That’s not only a loss for the writer, it’s a downright shame.

Yes, editors help—it depends on the type of editing as much as it does on the editor.  He/she may comment on the redundancy, but not change it or offer examples of how to approach the story with a fresh(er)/crisp(er) slant.

“Hi there,” Ron said with a smile and placed down the coffee cup onto the table in front of the window by the door in the small room.

Julie said nothing. She simply turned to Ron and stared into Ron’s grass-green eyes.

Ron noticed rue of some kind in Julie’s baby-blue eyes. “What’s wrong?” Ron asked, his voice filled with genuine concern. Ron walked across the room to stand before Julie’s chair and hold her hand, but Julie yanked back her hand.

Mistrust was now reflected in Julie’s eyes. Julie stood up and walked to the far corner of the small room, away from the window. Ron smiled dissarmingly, hoping Julie would feel less threatened.

Julie sat down in the other chair in the corner of the small room and Ron walked over to sit on the rug before Julie.

Rather long, given the action, and repetitive.  If we had a dollar for each time we read Ron or Julie’s name, we’d have a nice fat wallet.  Maybe something exciting, frightening, or romantic is about to occur.  But given the repetition, are we that eager to find out?  If there are 20+ mentions of Ron and 24+ references to Julie on one page, would you be tempted to read on for very much longer?  It suggests lack of professionalism and/or care on the writer’s part.

Maybe we can shorten it and make it less tiresome to get through?

“Hi there,” Ron smiled, placing the coffee cup on the table by the window near the door in the small room.

Julie said nothing, simply turned to him and stared into his grass-green eyes.

He noticed rue in those baby-blue eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he walked over to her chair, his voice filled with genuine concern.

When he took her hand, she yanked it back.

Mistrust clouded Julie’s eyes and she stood up and walked to the far corner, taking a seat on the only other chair.

Ron smiled disarmingly, and walked over to sit on the rug before her.

A little better, but still needs work.  How about we rearrange a bit more and add the odd adjective or adverb to give it more pizzazz?  And what genre might this be, so we rearrange/add accordingly?  Suspense perhaps?

“Hi there,” Ron smiled blithely as he entered the small dimly-lit room, placing the porcelain coffee cup on the table by the narrow window.  Seeing a large hairy spider scurrying across the top, he slammed his palm on it.

Julie said nothing, simply turned to him, her face expressionless, and stared into his grass-green eyes.  

Rue was reflected in those lovely baby-blue orbs. “What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly as he walked over, his voice filled with concern.  Crouching, he took her slim hand in his.

Feeling the remnants of the crushed spider, Julie yanked hers back, mistrust clouding her eyes. She lurched to her feet and stomped to the far corner and sat in the only other chair.

Ron sighed softly, wondering how he might win over this troubled young woman who’d murdered easily and often.  Smiling disarmingly, and donning an expression of humility, he walked over and sat on the threadbare rug before her.

Writing takes practice.  So does proofreading and editing.  And there’s nothing wrong with writing a story or book without looking back while doing so.  But do make sure to revisit it—with a critical eye, not a writer’s ego.

There’s no quality in quantity when the same names (words and phrases) are used in [over]abundance.  But there is quality in quantity when a number of revisions are made—to make a story the best that it can be.

The Facts, and Nothing but the Facts

. . . Or “ma’am, just the facts” as Sergeant Joe Friday [actually] said in the 1950s TV show, Dragnet. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction: know your facts.  Accuracy is a must.

Devices and gadgets, events and activities, fashion and customs, music and art, phrases and expressions (among others) must be correct for the time/period being written in.  Stories are made to entertain.  Facts are meant to inform.  Exactitude is vital . . . so is [a writer’s] credibility.

If you’re writing a western or historical novel that takes place in the middle of the 18th century, it’s likely people didn’t have tissues or ballpoint pens.  Women wouldn’t have worn brassieres and men wouldn’t have known about boxer shorts.  One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, it’s improbable that a person would have said, “that’s so cool” except maybe if referring to the weather.  They’d not have said “sweet” unless commenting about a dessert or fruit.  Become familiar with the period of time being written in.

If you’re writing a story that takes place present day and are using real places, ensure the details are accurate/correct.  Don’t mention that John went to a concert at Massey Hall in Toronto and have it located on the other side of town.  A real place should be in its actual location.  If your story is set in a city or country you’ve never been to, acquaint yourself with it.  Anything related to the here and now—and the story—should be properly (accurately) detailed.  Quoting someone?  Sure, have at it, but ensure the quote is correct.

That holds true of any genre, including fantasy and sci-fi.  Granted, you may be able to stretch some truths, given these worlds don’t [yet] exist 😉 but you’ll likely be incorporating some technical or scientific details.  You may even refer to events or inventions that lead to the creation of your future/other world, so it never hurts to become familiar with technology or science.  Research is never a waste of time (at the very least, you’ve learned something new).

The example above—“ma’am, just the facts”—is how Friday said it and not the way we often use it or see it: “the facts and nothing but the facts”.  This brings us to something that you may want to do and not leave to an editor, who may not always cast that critical an eye: fact-check.  This process verifies that information is factual and ensures the story/writing is correct and concise.

You can fact-check as you go along in your writing or do it at the end of the first/last draft; determine what works best for you.  My process is that I’ll write a scene, edit it, and note what I’d like to expand on, like a setting or dwelling, clothing, whatever.  Say one of my characters is attending a luau. If I want readers to get a taste of what that entails, I’ll research luaus—preparations required, types of food and entertainment, locations (where might they take place), and so forth.  I may have read pages (!) of details but, in the end, only write a couple of paragraphs.  But that piece of writing will be descriptive . . . and accurate.  😉

Get facts straight.  For all intents and purposes, your fictional world is the real world to a reader. Don’t disappoint them by having glaring errors.  And don’t disappoint yourself by not having done [provided] the best [most accurate] work that you could have.

The Curious, Elusive Comma

. . . Curious because comma usage can have us scratching our heads, asking, “How do I use this particular, perplexing piece of punctuation?” . . . elusive because this symbol can prove obscure if not crafty (in its own odd, abstract way).  Some writers use them in [over] abundance, while others use them almost never.

Now and then, I like to provide posts related to editing and punctuation and the like.  So, today, let’s look at our little friend, Mr. Comma.

There are “rules” of course, but those, as we know, are often made to be broken.  It’s really a writer’s prerogative how to utilize commas/punctuation but bear one word in mind: consistency.  Develop your own approach and adhere to it.

But, speaking of rules, it never hurts to review common practices/approaches.  Accept them as you like or will.

Use a comma to:

♣  divide separate independent clauses when connected by: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet (most of the time, but I wouldn’t say always)

But, he was never to see her again.  (a definite no-o).

William thought about it, but decided not to see her again.  (possibly)

William thought about it but decided not to see her again.  (better)

Perhaps, the two knew better than I did.  (another no-o)

Perhaps Bill and Joe would eventually learn from their mistakes.  (best)

♣  separate less important information that may not be that relevant to the grand scheme of things

Mr. Ronaldson, an accountant of thirty years, flew to Mexico to start a new life.

♣  provide details after opening clauses or phrases or words that precede the main clause

Last Friday, she went to the movies with Lisbeth.

♣  separate three or more words (phrases, clauses) that denote a series

Tom ordered a plant-based hamburger, French fries, and chocolate milkshake.

♣  separate two or more adjectives before the same noun

Laura ran anxious fingers through her long, wavy hair.

He stopped in his tracks and eyed the shadowy, three-story, dilapidated house.

Obviously, there are more rules, but these are enough . . . for today’s post about the curious, elusive comma.  😉

Can “I” Die?

Sounds rather tragic, if not dark, doesn’t it?  Not to worry.  I’m not thinking of leaving this mortal coil.  😊  Another way to pose the title question: when you’re writing your book in first-person, can your protagonist die?  Not quite as “grabbing”, though, is it?  😉

The question was posed on a writer’s site recently, and it caught my attention.  Quite honestly, it’s something I’ve never considered.  Kill a secondary/crucial character, yes, maybe, but the central character, the protagonist, the narrator?  Never!

But then, I’m a want/need-a-happy-ending gal.  Central characters shouldn’t die; that’s just wrong.  If I enjoyed the read and the hero/heroine bites the bullet after I’ve traveled through thick and thin with them, I’m in a [major] funk for days!  I feel deprived . . . deceived . . . and downright p’o’d.

If it’s really in your heart to do so, though, to accomplish the fatal grand finale, you could switch between POVs—something that drives me absolutely crazy (and will usually have me tossing the book into the recycling bin)—and have another character, or you, detail what’s so tragically transpired.

And, just to ensure we’re on the same page, let’s quickly summarize the three POVs.

♠   1st person: the storyteller is part of the story or is involved in it and relates the action from his or her own point-of-view.  ♠  2nd person:  the storyteller talks directly to you and pulls you into the narrative (not my cup of tea, but to each his or her own).  ♠  3rd person: the storyteller is an indirect onlooker and provides particulars, rather like a journalist/reporter might.

Alternatively, you could end with, well, your protagonist’s end-ing.

I noticed the Colt Python a mere second before Lee fired it—into my heart.  I always thought death was instantaneous when a bullet burst into a vital organ.  But I was dead wrong . . . literally . . . there’s a split “reality check” second.

So, yes, sure, you can kill off your central character.  And it wouldn’t be that difficult.  But do be imaginative.  And remember this: you’d be limited in the sequel department, unless you plan to bring your protagonist back from the hereafter . . . as a narrating ghost . . . ?

Still Show? . . . Still Tell?

Belonging to different on-line writers’ groups provides an array of viewpoints re approaches to writing.

♣  No, you don’t have to use Times New Roman font anymore.  ♣  Nothing wrong with using [a jumble of] various POVs.  ♣  Don’t put two spaces after a period.  Old school.  Old hat.  ♣  On no account do you have to show and tell; many great writers didn’t!

That’s why they were great.  They possessed talent.  They had a distinct voice.  They knew how to detail and describe, and draw in readers.

Newbie writers—sorry if “newbie” is a bygone word, but I rather like it—haven’t yet mastered a voice or style.  And, if they have, hats off!  You’re nothing short of genius (using that as an adjective, just to be clear).

Perhaps you don’t want to be show-don’t-tell writer.  Nothing wrong with that.  But maybe employing the approach, if only as a learning tool, isn’t a bad or worthless suggestion.  We develop as writers—as we do in any profession or craft—by practicing, studying and applying what we’ve learned.

That’s it.  Short and sweet.  And that phrase still applies . . . I’m telling you.  😉

Reel ‘Em In

With all ya’ve got.  Hey, it’s Rey today.

The Boss has 103 errands, Linda’s doing volunteer work at the animal shelter, and Linda’s up north, surfing again.  So, that leaves me to post today.  I was all for sharing my latest sale finds, but Linda pooh-poohed that.  JJ didn’t care much for my second idea: talking about my actress life.  The Boss thought, considering it’s been a wee while, maybe a post related to writing or blogging would be a good idea.  Yeah, sure, whatever.  Yawno. 

It’s no secret that I don’t like to read much.  But if I’m going to pick up a book and keep it picked up—as in not jamming it in a drawer or recycling bin ‘cause it’s boring the <bleep> outta me—it had better catch my interest from the get-go.  It has to reel me in.

I don’t think it matters what the genre is, though maybe if it’s a thriller, suspense, mystery and/or within those categories, something dramatic or frightening or shocking would be a great way to begin, because John’s adventures at the grocery store ain’t gonna cut it.

The strident sound of breaking glass reverberated throughout the small, dilapidated dwelling.  Having stepped onto the porch but seconds before, Nathan whirled.  His fifth victim couldn’t have done that.  She was dead.

I wrote that—with Lindy-Loo’s help; in fact, she kinda proofed this post (let me keep my voice, something the Boss was talking about recently, but made the content “snap” a bit more).  It works, don’t you think?  Aren’t you curious to find out what happened . . . who the victim is . . . what led up to this? 

Other genres might not have such a suspenseful, chilling, or dark opening, but they have to be intriguing enough to keep a reader—someone like me—captivated.  With a romance, something like this might garner my interest.

Accepting an invitation to the gala had seemed like a good idea.  How was Vivana to know he’d be there?  That he’d openly and haughtily snub her, and flirt brazenly with other women?   Cad.  Wasn’t that the word used, once upon a time, to describe an unprincipled man?  Yeah, that was Calvin.  A cad—of the most double-dealing kind.

The opening for a science-fiction or fantasy (and anything in between) novel should be no different.  Evoke . . . draw . . . appeal.

The third moon shone crimson before dark voluminous clouds glided across it like former fairground banners.  There was rain in the dense, damp air.  As was tension.  Something ghastly—and unforeseen—was about to transpire and Roget was the only one to know.  Could he stop it?  Should he stop it?

An opening sentence/paragraph is probably the most crucial part of the book; it can make or break you.  And, as a writer hoping to attract an abundance of readers, I’m sure you’d opt for the “make” instead of “break”; am I right? 

‘Nuff said.  For now.  Go reel ‘em in! 

 

Show & Tell . . . Reiterated

Showing versus telling is a popular topic, though some may call it redundant, given it’s emphasized so often.  Yet this is the aspect [or art] of writing that is so essential to keeping readers interested.  So, let’s reiterate for the record one more time: show and don’t tell.  Engage readers’ senses through physical descriptions and actions.

Many writers are guilty of telling and not showing, particularly when first starting out.  It’s easy, comfortable maybe, to jot down / key in actions as they happen.  Da-da-da-da-da.  Translation: s-t-a-t-i-c.

   A:  John went to the lake to find Jake.  When he got there, he looked around.  The sky was getting cloudy and dark.  He eyed the surroundings again.  There was no sign of life.  He sighed and walked to the small beach but couldn’t see anyone.  Where was Jake?

   B:  Anxious, John hastened to the lake to search for his youngest brother, Jake.  He’d not returned to the cottage after promising to return mid-afternoon.  It wasn’t like him not to call if he’d planned to be late.  Given Jake’s love of the water, however, maybe he’d come here for a long, leisurely swim.  John rushed onto the pier and quickly scanned the rippled water.  There was no swimmer, no boat, nothing.  He surveyed the still surroundings; the park, beach, and pier showed no signs of life, but that was to be expected, given it was early April.  He zipped up his hoodie.  A chilly breeze was blowing in.  The sky was growing increasingly cloudy and gray; it promised rain, perhaps even a storm.  John swore softly, closed his eyes, and drew a long calming breath.  Where was Jake?  Why hadn’t he phoned?

“A” simply tells us what John is doing.  We may understand that he’s anxious, given the sigh.  There’s very little description of the vicinity.  Up and above that, there’s no emotion or action.  “B” demonstrates John’s anxiety through the rushing and scanning, and the attempt to calm down.  We know the time of year and can better visualize the vicinity.

Telling does have its place and merit.  For short passages, a little telling is fine.  Too much of it, on the other hand, can prompt yawn-inducing boredom.  Showing will help paint a [vivid] picture.  When you show, you use physical details and actions and, consequently, yes, engage those senses.  You draw readers into the story . . . enable them to imagine the setting/location . . . and become involved in what’s transpiring.

Showing enables you to [more thoroughly] develop your characters.  Instead of describing your protagonist with a few adjectives, you can detail a scene to render a more complete picture.  John in “A” is looking for his brother but we don’t really know why.  Maybe he cares, maybe he doesn’t, and if he does, maybe it’s because his brother owes him $50 or was supposed to drive him somewhere.  In “B”, we learn it’s not like his brother not to call when something comes up.  John takes a calming breath.  We sense John cares and is worried.

You can reveal character traits through dialogue as well.  Something like this might work . . .

   “Where’re you going?”  Cousin Sarah scanned John’s drawn face.

   “The lake.  Maybe Jake’s gone there,” he responded with a furrowed brow, hastening to the rear door.

   “You worry too much,” she said with a quick smile.

   “He’s my brother,” he said ruefully.  “If I don’t watch out for him, who will?”

   “Hurry back.  It looks like rain’s not far off.”

   John nodded grimly and raced from the modest cottage he was sharing the small getaway with her, Jake, and Uncle Randolph.  They’d arrived two days ago to enjoy a week of fishing, campfires, and relaxation.  Hopefully, all was okay and come six o’clock, the three of them would be seated at the table, eating Sarah’s delicious fish stew with rice.

Dialogue can also flesh out your characters.  The way they speak / respond can tell us something about them.

   ♦  “Yeah, okay, whatever,” Harold said in his usual brusque manner, not caring one way or the other.     ♦  “Ye-es, s-sure, I’d like that,” Barney replied, wishing yet again his stutter wasn’t so pronounced.     ♦  “F that, he’s a loser,” he muttered with a scowl, then proceeded to curse under his breath as he often did when annoyed.     ♦  “Ja, das . . . das is what he . . . reported,” Helmut nodded, struggling to find the right English words.

Do provide details/descriptions, and action, when you show but remember: moderation in everything.  And to keep it interesting [readable] combine long and short sentences and utilize those details as appropriate.

   A:  Seema walked along the veined marble floor, through the long and cold corridor, to reach the chandelier-heavy salon, where the guests congregated, seated on fancy upholstered armchairs and sofas, which were strategically placed along the painting-dense room.

   B:  Seema strolled along the lengthy marble-rich floor of the chilly corridor.  Stepping into a bright, chandelier-heavy salon, she surveyed the guests seated on handsome upholstered armchairs and sofas.  Lovely landscapes lined the high ivory walls and glossy sculptures stood in corners.  She liked that the room whispered of great wealth and didn’t scream it.

Besides “A” being a run-on sentence (if anyone still cares), it has description overkill.  Too much is crammed into one long sentence.  “B” is a little easier on the eyes and, hence, to read.

Think of stories that had you excited, anxious, happy—ones that drove you down the road of adventure at full speed, or prompted a tear of happiness or sorrow.  That’s the goal: to involve readers, to make them never want to put your book down.  Sure, showing and not telling takes time to master.  But, as often said, practice makes perfect.  If there were no challenges, how s-t-a-t-i-c life would be . . . rather like a story that tells, but doesn’t show.  😊

Baring the Ol’ Soul

Emotions are a very real, raw thing, and can be difficult to capture in fiction if not presented correctly or well.  Making them public in nonfiction may prove equally difficult, not only because of how they are described, but because they come from the soul, the heart . . . from experiences that are taxing, trying, empowering, lifting, or bittersweet.  Imaginary or real (dramatized or recounted), they often prove poignant. 

Editing nonfiction accounts of challenging times in people’s lives—memoirs, personal accounts—is tricky at times.  Do you edit with the fiction hat on . . .  and propose the following, without applying the “editing pen”?  Do you offer the same advice you would to a fiction writer?

    • Show, don’t tell.
    • Avoid using the same words too frequently.
    • Be mindful of dialogue and dialogue tags; don’t restate or offer the obvious.
    • Steer clear of repeating an event, action, or conversation.
    • Dodge overused/reiterated devices and approaches that lend themselves to flatness.

The nonfiction hat, particularly when dealing with emotional/heartbreaking topics, wants to be softer, less analytical.  As such, you may be tempted to:

    • keep the simplicity/intensity, even the repetitiveness, that’s being revealed (because, again, it comes from the soul, the heart)
    • preserve—as is—something that is being shared and bared.

Then, the juggling hat appears.  Maybe you determine that the best editing tactic is to allow the narrative to unfold exactly as the writer—soul-barer—intended.  If someone has disclosed some highly subjective if not private moments, is it fair to alter what is visceral, intense, and so very personal?  No, probably not . . . but it wouldn’t hurt to tighten here and there, staying true to the writer’s intention(s) and mode of expression. 

It’s a tough call sometimes.  And editing instinct has to play a part, too.  Get a feel . . . for what feels right.

For someone planning to pen a personal tale, before beginning, give some thought to the following:

    • write [reveal] vital, relevant events
    • don’t communicate every detail
    • share with all senses—allow readers to feel, smell, see, hear, touch (like fiction, pull them in; let them understand the situation from a “sensory” POV)
    • ensure readers get to know you or the person you’re writing about (the quest, struggle/situation, outcome)
    • be honest
    • use dialogue here and there and make it compelling, not of the “he said, she said” variety.

1abckindpngsatSharing a personal tale can prove purging, which is great (I have some of that to do), but it can also be enlightening, instructional, supportive/helpful, encouraging, for readers who have undergone similar situations . . . or those that want to learn about, and from, them.

Consider the goal for sharing [publishing] the intimate account—aim for it—and write [honestly and honorably] from the soul and heart.

SuspenseFULL

There’s nothing better than a riveting suspense novel, one that is full of excitement, thrills, tension, edginess . . . one that keeps the reader glued to the pages, wanting to find out what transpires . . . yet not really wanting the story to end . . . because it’s that good.  (I’m reading one now; hence the compulsion to post about it.)

So, you’d like to write one and are wondering what helps make a suspense story good?  Don’t reveal all.  You want to grab a reader’s interest/curiosity from the get-go and that is done not just with the story or plot, but through the characters.  There’s a problem or challenge, maybe a few, a mission or quest, maybe a few, that the protagonist (and/or main characters) has to pursue, and solve or resolve.

The protagonist, like the main characters, should have issues and/or a complicated past.  Something drives him or her.  Or maybe something makes him or her want to avoid the world.  What incidents/events have molded the protagonist?

Teasing the reader here and there can add to the suspense.  Perhaps Jim’s private-eye partner, Ralph, has been severely beaten.  Jim is supposed to meet him at ten, and is waiting, eager to hear what information Ralph has received that will help them solve a puzzler of a case.  The reader is aware of what has happened to Ralph; Jim is not.  Tension builds . . . particularly if the thugs who’d done the dastardly deed have discussed meeting Jim at the rendezvous spot with the intention of “taking care” of him, too.

Perhaps certain characters are bleak or somber, mysterious or treacherous, deranged or self-centered; this makes them dangerous, intriguingly so.  Revealing snippets of what makes them tick—or doesn’t—will keep the reader wanting to learn more.  Will the somber and deranged Mr. Darke succeed in his desire to bring down a former ally?  Can Ms. Perile convince her employer that a coworker is the saboteur and, subsequently, the reason the company lost a major account?

The reader should know more than the protagonist.  Not everything, but more.  Anxiety and hope want us to continue reading—and spur the protagonist.  At the same time, the reader wants to be solving the mystery/dilemma with him or her.  And there’s certain dread when the reader, like the protagonist, comes face to face with evil or terror, be it in the form of a serial killer, a maleficent boss, wicked wife, or pugnacious partner . . . or ghastly past.

Throw in surprises/shocks.  Have something happen that comes from left field—something no one, character(s) and reader(s) alike, ever expected.  Maybe someone unpredictably dies or proves to be a completely different person (be it via a personality change, revelation re background, or switch in intentions).  As with mysteries, suspense novels should throw out a red herring or two, offer clues and/or foreshadowing, elements that create excitement, anticipation, and tension.  The reader is dying to know what’s what.

Create suspense early and sustain it throughout the story.  In each chapter, you want to have a question or two that remains unanswered; this will prompt the reader to continue to search for the answer(s).  Perhaps reveal something startling or unforeseen in the last paragraph.  Determine what works best, given the plot and characters, and have at it.

Additional storylines can be added—lesser ones.  Perhaps you’d like to share action/dialogue between two villains or secondary characters; make certain it’s tight, of value-add, and interesting.  Flashbacks can also help but keep them manageable and to a minimum.

Finally, before “the end” arrives, ensure all loose ends are tied up, because you truly want to avoid reader head-scratching.

Now,  a great [suspenseFULL] read is beckoning my return.

Judy Hogan Writes

ramblings of an apprentice author

The Nightingale

Maria Konnel - Youg Adult Fantasy Author

Avisha Rasminda

Hi, I'm Avisha Rasminda Twenty One years old, Introduce Myself As A Author , Painter , A Poet.

Random Ramblings

Random rants, musings and opinions that nobody asked for :)

KRISHNA KUMAR SINGH

KNOWLEDGE AND TIPS

J. P. D. T.

Blogs, Stories, and Poetries

MisaeMich :)

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Fantasylife

Don't forget to be awesome!

JOURNEY towards the Perfect Communicator

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RovingBookwormNG

Books. Poetry. Podcast. Travel.

The Wild Heart of Life

Creative Nonfiction & Poetry

Wise & Shine

Understanding ourselves and the world we live in.

She Got Wings!

Self-development

A Holistic Journey

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