Sunday, January 30, 2011

WORDSMITHING 101 ~ SUSPENSE

Suspense: 1). a state of uncertainty 2). the growing excitement felt while waiting for the climax of a novel, play etc.

Do you put suspense in your novel/stories? Suspense writers are best at knowing how to milk a scene, or put you on the edge of your seat throughout the book.

You don't have to be a suspense writer to add suspense and tension to your scenes. In fact your work will become more well-rounded if you do. If you have not quite grasped the theory as to how to bring suspense to a scene I've got it all here in just a few key words:

Action
Thoughts
Dialogue
Description
Emotions


When I know that I've got a scene that I want to milk, or any scene where I want to pull and hold the reader, the above sequence is what I like to use.

Action of the players: What is happening, and why.

Thoughts of the character you have chosen to be in their head: what are they thinking, show the process.
Dialogue: This can be between two people who are in danger, or it can be between two people who are at odds, the villain and the hero.

Description: the scene, and other aspects surrounding your character(s). You can put in here the tension, what their inner worries and concerns are. What are they going through?

Emotions also play a roll, as well as the physical aspects. Is their pulse hammering? Just saying they're frightened isn't enough. Make the sweat roll off their brow. If they've run away from danger, they should be breathing heavily, trying to catch their breath.


When you go into the scene you'll decide which to lead off with, and then you take each aspect and you use each in turn, or mixing it up when you need to.

This can also work in scenes which have nothing, or very little to do with life and death situations. I've used it in a scene where my sexual vampire is after a kiss from my protagonist. Sabrina is enthralled by Jett, unable to resist him, even though he isn't a sanguine (traditional) vampire, but he's quite charming and alluring. I wanted the scene to last, mostly because this moment was important to set things up between Sabrina (heroine), and the main character for the rest of this book. I saw the potential here to give the two some tension, demonstrate what sort of pull Jett has on her, why or how she is attracted to him, and why he could be potentially dangerous to her, if she falls for his charms.

By milking the scene with dialogue, thoughts, action, description ect., I was able to work up a full page, maybe a page and a half before she realizes the danger she is in.

Try this tecnique the next time you think you have a scene that seems flat, and you need the tension to escalate things a little bit.

8 comments:

  1. I have a scene I'm not happy with. I'm going rewrite it, applying your tips, and see if I can improve it. Thanks!

    Nikki

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  2. Good for you, Nikki. Hope this helps.

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  3. Great tips. Sorry, I haven't stopped by in awhile. Been playing catch up. You know how that goes. I try to apply the same things to my story every chance I get. But sometimes I have to go back in and throw a little more conflict into the mix. That always seems to help. Hope you are well. Thanks for the tips.

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  4. Those were great tips. Thank you.

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  5. Love this! I'm writing those key words down and posting them next to my work space. Thanks for the tips!

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  6. Thanks for stopping by Tammy, and glad that things are caught up and better your way. I agree, conflict is one of the keys and I want to do another one of these on that one thing.

    Shelly, thank you for stopping by.

    Heather, and it's always a pleasure to see you here as well.

    Glad to help, that's why I love to post these bits of knowledge I've gleaned from other sources.

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