can write a book - but it takes something special
to create a best-seller
Lee Masterson's step-by-step guide can show you
you ever wanted to write for children?
Robyn Opie, author of 49 published children's
books, reveals all her insider secrets!
Easy Way to Write a Brilliant Novel in 30 Days or
This Proven Success System teaches you to think
about writing from a different perspective.
Finish your novel in only 1-2 hours a day!
How to Keep Them Reading
is the one of the most crucial ingredients in your book?
What, with it's absence can cause every reader to put
your novel down regardless of how well your characters
are developed or how your setting is described?
Without it, there is no reason to continue reading or to
continue watching a movie or play. It's like watching
grass grow. The reader/viewer needs a compelling reason
to stay and take the journey the writer has created.
Many readers think that suspense belongs in mysteries and
thrillers, but suspense is vital to all genres. Would we
stay and watch Star Wars if we didn't wonder how Luke was
going to stop the evil empire? Would we stay to read
about whaling if we didn't wonder who was going to win,
Moby Dick or Captain Ahab?
Suspense is that desire to know what is going to happen
next. It can hold you on the edge of your seat or grip
Will Romeo and Juliet ever get together? What about Sam
and Diane? (Any one of the myriads of soap opera couples?)
Can Bob save his failing company and keep his family and
employees from losing their homes?
Will Junie B. Jones ever find her fur mittens or will she
steal the teddy bear backpack from the lost and found
box? Will Bruce Willis's character in Armageddon
be able to detonate the asteroid before the world is
Suspense is that element that keeps us turning pages long
after we should have turned out the light and gone to bed.
It's a vital ingredient in any story.
Now that you know what it is, how do you incorporate
suspense into your work? Let's start with a mundane
situation and expand it with a little game of "what
Ted is driving.
So what? You travel/drive every day and it's no big deal.
Why should we care about Ted?
if we give him an objective?
Ted is driving to work.
if we raise the stakes?
Ted is driving to work and if he's late for the third
time this week, he risks losing his job. The problem is,
he really does need a day off this time, so he's
already in a bad mood.
if we add a source of annoyance?
Ted has a terrible case of the 'flu. It's awfully hard to
drive while wiping his nose and sneezing continually, all
the while forcefully spraying mucus on the windscreen and
if we add an element of danger?
Ted's car has very bald tires, one is bulging a bit and
his mechanic has warned him that if he doesn't get a new
set, he risks a blow out. Ted knows that driving down the
high way at high speeds is dangerous, but he's really
afraid to be late. What happens if he has a blow out in
the middle of rush hour traffic? Should he take that
if you see the clock ticking during Ted's journey?
Instead of just showing Ted hurrying down the road, we
also show him checking the time every few minutes as he
drums his fingers on the steering wheel, or reaching for
a new tissue in the almost empty box beside him? Instead
of the reader having to guess how Ted is progressing, he/she
can see that it's 8:30 and Ted is supposed to be at work
by 9:00. Can he make it in time?
if we add the unknown?
We know Ted's tires are bad, so if one does blow out,
it's not much of a surprise. But what is his check engine
light comes on and the car starts to make a strange noise
under the hood?
if we remove Ted's ability to affect his circumstances?
Ted's going down the highway, at any point he could take
an exit and speed through town instead, but what if he
sneezes at the wrong time, turns to dig deeper into his
tissue-box and passes the last exit before a major
traffic jam? Now he's stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic
with the clock ticking down, his engine acting strangely,
his tissue-box almost empty and his job on the line.
if we add a little dramatic irony?
The audience is given the information that Ted's boss is
actually quite pleased with his work and wants to give
him a promotion. So he calls Ted on his cell phone and
asks if he's going to be to work on time today. Ted
waffles, he doesn't want to lie but he doesn't want to
get fired on the phone if there's some wild chance that
he just might make it into work on time. His boss wants
to give him the good news in person so he doesn't tell
Ted why he's asking. Ted simply feels that the boss
calling is a veiled threat to his job. He sneezes several
times anyway, but the boss doesn't seem to notice. Will
Ted continue on to work even though he's now late? Will
he get there in time to accept the promotion or will he
turn around and go home without calling his boss because
he's sure he's already fired.
Throughout this scenario I've played up the anticipation
of Ted getting to work on time. I've escalated the
tension by adding small annoyances to Ted's life. But
what if I didn't do that. What if Ted simply jumped in
his car and drove to work without any trouble at all. We
see a few lines of his being concerned about being late
but that's all the attention given to Ted's plight. As a
reader, that tiny journey to work is not going to leave
an impact if it's covered in just a few lines or
paragraphs. But let's expand it to several pages and the
reader is going to remember how nervous Ted was. When Ted
finally arrives at work, his receiving the promotion or
getting fired will be a stronger resolution because the
reader has been anticipating it.
Join me for the next issue of Fiction Factor when I cover
more ways to add suspense to your story.
Copyright 2002 Tina Morgan
Best-Sellers in 3 Years!
Brilliant New Course by Nick Daws will show you
how to write any book in 28 days or less -
site is free. Help us to keep it that way!