Writing Sleight of Hand

writing suspense magic-184447_960_720One thing I think most of us writers aspire to is being able to surprise our readers. After all, if the reader knows from page one what the outcome will be — boy gets the girl and they live happily ever after — that doesn’t make for a terribly interesting or suspenseful book. On the other hand, I believe we owe it to our readers to not blindside them. What I mean by that is throwing in a curve ball that has no relation to anything else in the book. Somewhere in there is a happy medium where the reader can be surprised, shocked, maybe delighted by the twists in the plot, but when they think back, they can see the germination of that plot twist. It was there all the time, just under the radar. It fits and it makes sense.

I’ve noticed there are two ways to do this. Continue reading “Writing Sleight of Hand”

Conflict: The Heart of Storytelling

Conflict makes a story better stagsStorytelling is as old as human DNA. As old as language. As old as Joe Neanderthal sitting around the fire at the mouth of his cave, telling the group what happened that day.

“Me went hunting, threw rock at rabbit, killed it, brought it back. Good day. Ug.”

Okay, that’s a story, as far as it goes. Short, sweet, direct. But what’s missing? How might Joe have ramped up the tension in his story? How might he have grabbed the interest of his fellows, and pulled them in emotionally so they were invested in the outcome? Conflict.

How about this: Continue reading “Conflict: The Heart of Storytelling”

How to Write a Fight (or Love) Scene

writing fight and love scenesThe first symptom of a poorly written fight scene is: too much violence. Characters flail away at each other in a multitude of fancy ways, the body count rises, the gore gushes, and it all blends together in an emotion-numbing jumble until readers are tempted to skip to the end to find out who wins so we can get back to the story. The writer who doesn’t know what he really wants from the fight covers it up with technical details and mayhem. Watch a Transformer movie if you don’t know what I mean.

And love scenes? Same thing. Lots of graphic description of body parts in motion, but strangely unsatisfying. Watch “Fifty Shades of Vanilla” as one reviewer called it. Love and fight scenes cover two primary human activities: taking life and creating it. Let’s see how to make the best of connecting to the basic (note I didn’t say ‘baser’) instincts of our readers. Continue reading “How to Write a Fight (or Love) Scene”

Approaches to Building Suspense

gardenia Creating “Page-Turner Novels” was and still is my writing goal. In reviews, readers have complimented me for creating a good story and holding their  attention. (That is very satisfying.)

As I continue to improve my writing craft I have read several books. One that I would recommend is The Marshall Plan for NOVEL WRITING by Evan Marshall. He provides some excellent tools which helped me understand viewpoint writing and the proper sequence within the novel. I use a form of that now to plan my novels and to record the actual chapter detail and story progress. Here is what I do: Continue reading “Approaches to Building Suspense”