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Keep Your Audience Intoxicated
By Patrick Davis
A mystery, a compelling love story, a darkened enigma,
and fragments of the past are elements of secrets.
Secrets are powerful. Gossip is devious. A dark secret
whispered through gossiping lips unleashes its
intoxicating spell that will, for the moment, seize the
hearers. Gossip, as powerful as it is, buys the attention
of those listening. But if you harness the intoxicating
power of secrets that reside within the pages of a
captivating story, you have the potential of buying
yourself the attention of the vast, book-reading
your secret in with the story's setting
If you are thinking of writing of mystery novel but are
not sure how, this is what you may want to consider.
Within the opening pages of your novel, introduce your
readers to a captivating secret. Allow this "hidden
incident" be a fragment of a love story from another
era. This will quickly lure your audience to read more.
Or your secret may be an old discarded tool, but later
discovered that it was a murder weapon. Or perhaps,
there's something recorded within the pages of a diary
containing a secret about someone else. Or suppose the
diary belonged to a young lady during the Victorian era
who knew of a secret romance that was forbidden. Perhaps
this secret romance involved someone who was dear to her.
And perhaps the author of the diary had no strength to
destroy her personal journal; and it was too painful for
her to keep it. So she entombed it within a secret hold
residing in her lavished home with hopes that no one
would ever find it.
Decades later, the old house with its mystic character is
on the market again, only to attract a modern-day couple
who have dreams of making the mini mansion into their
home. But within the shadows of the darkened cavity lies
this secret that will soon be discovered. And perhaps the
diary reveals untold history related to the neighborhood
that otherwise would have never been known.
The idea here is to expose the secret to your audience
but keep it hid from your main character(s) until the
right moment. This method evokes more tension, more
suspense. And the moment that the secret is revealed may
be a chapter away.
An example to this would be:
Mr. and Mrs. Smith were going to be proud owners of their
century-old home, but little did they know that their
home came with dark secrets that would soon haunt them.
story - Originating from the Past
Before you reveal the hidden relic to your character,
perhaps you will first want to transport your audience
back to the past and show them just how the romance got
started, or how the sterling silver cake knife became a
murder weapon, or how the diary came into play. But don't
reveal too much. Just show a few sequence-of-events. It
will keep your audience engaged. Later on, your character
will conduct a search that will lead to clues pointing to
the past again.
to the Discovery
After your audience is introduced to your story's
setting, (followed by a glimpse of the past) lead them to
the scene where your main character makes the discovery
of the old relic/heirloom. Don't take too long leading
your audience. Otherwise the suspense will diffuse some.
From there, the mind-twisting turns of the growing
mystery will take your audience through the story, like a
roller coaster ride in the black of night.
An example would be a novel that opens with an old
discarded piano that contains a daunting secret, a tale
of a beautiful pianist, (Elsa) who, in her era, struggled
to chose courtship over her first love-music. But her own
fate is about to be discovered when an antique collector,
Maria Weisman, rescues the aging piano from an auction
nearly a century later.
Maria's passion to connect to a bygone era comes with
hopes of uncovering stories related to her collection of
Sadly, and very unexpectedly, young Maria becomes
terminally ill. Husband (John Weisman) and daughter
(Melissa) face the inevitable as they watch their beloved
Maria slowly loose her grip on life. This untimely
crisis, having collided with John's fast-paced world
brings his career into a slow, downward spin. Months
later, Maria departs. It's a dark time for both of them.
Yet, the story secretly hiding in the old instrument that
Maria was to hunt for was now left for John to find.
The setting exposes the secret to the audience, but keeps
it hid from the character.
Soon thereafter, the audience will be lead to the scene
where the discovery is made.
Mystery Ensnares the Readers...
The secret, once discovered, reveals fragments of a
hidden courtship from eight decades earlier. This is the
place where the widower's life begins to change -
depression begins to lift. "But why would a pianist
lock elements of her cherished romance in the lower
compartment of her piano?" John wondered.
Fragments of mystery couple leads to questions.
Questions demands answers that can only be obtained
through a search. A search introduces new characters
(into the story) who can reveal only pieces of the
When fragments of truth are revealed, a new side of the
mystery comes to light. This is where John Weisman
discovers that the girl's father interfered with the
affairs of his daughter's life when she fell in love.
Therefore, speculations about the mystery that were first
presumed now dissipate. The search goes deeper, even
beckons John to embark upon an 800 mile journey in
pursuit of answers he must find. The pianist's home town
is his destination.
As a stranger in a town unfamiliar to him, John runs into
resistance with another individual. But he pushes
Book keepers of convalescent homes, cemetery archives,
and internet death records shed little light on new
truths. New truths turn cold. The mystery of the piano
becomes more baffling.
Without answers, the search becomes hopeless. This is
where John Weisman faces a black hole of unknowns. He
realizes what first seemed to be a charming romance story
has turned into a darkened enigma. Exhausted, weakened,
and defeated, this is where the widower gives up and
prepares to go home.
Suddenly, the audience reacts: "Nooo, keep
going!" Then, at this point, (during the climax) a
turn in the story takes the audience by surprise.
Something happens that leads John to a one-hundred and
six-year-old woman, who, when asked by him, what
happened, Elsa, at the end of her frail life, tells the
rest of her love story. The readers become shocked when
the truth is revealed.
All questions are answered.
The ride through the story was incredible and gives hope
Patrick Davis (http://www.squidoo.com/thesilentnote/) was first
introduced to the magic of storytelling through
filmmaking. Knowing the Dynamics of Story Structure, his
inspiration and talent is admired in his first novel, The
Silent Note. Patrick is a mentor to other writers. He
lives in San Diego, California. To learn more go to http://www.silentnotethebook.com
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