Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Writing Suspense--Workshop 3

So, now you have your great beginning, you've picked out some backstory that you can use to up the suspense, and now you need to learn how to keep the readers turning those pages until they send you notes that say..."I loved your latest book. I stayed up all night reading it! I couldn't put it down!"

One of the best ways is to end your chapters with a cliff-hanger. For instance, in FOXFIRE:
A thousand spiders crawled up her spine. What were the chances of her reaching the gun in time? If she dove for the bed and rolled, she'd be a moving target, but she had to try.
With a burst of confidence, she threw herself toward the bed and grabbed the gun. She rolled, holding it in two hands, her finger on the trigger, and met his feral eyes gleaming like the blade of steel resting against her throat.

My goal was to make it difficult for the reader to close the book and read the next chapter at a later time. Easy, right?

In the beginning of FOXFIRE, Grace breaks up with her creep of a fiance. In Chapter Four, she's moving forward with her life and has just accepted a job working in the vet clinic near her home. She walks up the hill happy as a clam (pun intended) and here's how I end this chapter.

Grace left the clinic floating on a cloud of euphoria but it took a nosedive when she noticed the car in her driveway. The dark blue Jaguar looked out of place and so did the angry face of the man behind the wheel.

This technique is easy to use. All you have to do is end your chapter in the middle of a scene. Caution: Don't overuse this. You don't want to end every chapter this way. If you do use this technique, make sure your following chapter begins with the continuation of the scene. Lead the reader further into your story with each scene and keep increasing the suspense.

Tomorrow we'll look at how to weave the romance and the suspense together, creating more tension and...suspense.

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