Friday, March 27, 2009

Writing Suspense - Workshop 5

There are several ways of writing a suspense novel. You can make it a "thriller" type novel by allowing your readers to know the villain and see them plotting in the background while your unsuspecting main character moves along not knowing the bottom is about to drop out of their world. I love these kinds of suspenses, and I love to create wicked villains. Here's a short excerpt from the villain's POV in FOXFIRE:

Damn his luck. Max threw some bills on the table and weaved his way through the restaurant toward the bank of telephones. He stood in the shadows pretending to make a call and watched as the hostess escorted Grace and her two crotchety friends to a table much too near where he'd been sitting.
Under the overhead glow of soft lighting, Grace's hair shone like the fur on a young vixen. Soon, he'd be running his fingers through it, letting the curls wrap him with molten fire. His hands would play her like a violin making sweet music. It had been too long since he'd had her in his bed. And he would have her one more time before he killed her.

By throwing in the villain's POV like this you can create a "ticking clock." While the story moves forward, so do the villain's plans until they culminate in the climax.

Another thing that can create suspense is throwing in a "red herring." In the beginning of FOXFIRE, I created a "shady" character the reader could imprint upon and like my heroine, Grace, believe that he might be behind some of the things happening to her.

Here's another short excerpt:

Kissing. Adam couldn't believe what he'd seen. She wouldn't have dinner with him, but she'd let that dog doctor paw her. Worst of all, she seemed to like it.
Adam stomped up the path, putting as much distance between the clinic and himself as possible. He'd had such plans for Grace. It had been years since a woman made him feel the things he did when he was near her. He wanted to protect her, shower her with nice things, love her.
A low growl stopped him. Grace's dog raised her head from the back porch, lifting her canine lips to show sharp pointed teeth. Warning him.
Adam continued on his way. He'd have to do something about that dog. Grace really should watch her dog closer. One never knew what dangers lurked in these woods.

Later, when Grace's dog is stabbed, who do you think did it? Sorry, I can't tell. You'll have to read the book. (See, more suspense.)

One thing I must stress before we end this workshop is that no matter how great a plot, no matter how well you utilize the techniques to create a page-turning suspense, it won't work if you have cardboard characters. First and foremost your reader must care about your characters. Really care about your characters. So before you write your story, you'll need to know your characters and what makes them tick. Then put them through torture and bring them to a triumphant ending. Your readers will be begging you to hurry up and write your next book.

Good luck, and thanks so much for stopping by this week.

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