October 26, 2012

Closer To "THE END"

You have written so much in your novel and you feel so accomplished! “The End” is right at your fingertips. Can you feel it?

Chapter Ten was where you set off the first stick of dynamite. Since then you have been writing the fallout (what happened immediately after the event from Chapter Ten) and material to link that first explosion with the nuclear blast that is yet to come.

To understand how to construct your story from Chapter Ten to Chapter Fifteen see: Writing Filling Material

For Chapter Fifteen feel free to write something that could change the course of your story. Anything that will throw your reader off will work nicely. Here is a perfect place to raise the stakes in whatever way that you feel is fit.

Chapter Sixteen lays the groundwork for the climax. This is the moment when it appears that your protagonist is closer to their goal, even if there are more twists and turns waiting.

For a mystery/thriller, your detective could come closer to finding the suspect. Don’t worry though, this isn’t the end yet. You can still create obstacles for your protagonist. Maybe the person your protagonist believes is the suspect now will later on prove not to be.

For a romance, one or both of your characters may realize that they are really falling in love. You can make them struggle with their feelings or introduce a complication that makes love a “bad idea”, such as a returning ex or a problem that temporarily drives the two lovebirds apart. It’s up to you, after all this is YOUR book!

QUESTION: Are your writing a shocker near the end of your story? Do you care to reveal what that is?

October 19, 2012

How To Create Mystery

Mystery is not just a genre but an emotion that can be used in any story. Here are ten tips to help you create mystery in your story:

1. Setting and Tone. Yes, when it comes down to it, the setting and tone of your book is very important, and sometimes amateur writers take them for granted. A true writer will take advantage of the setting to play into whatever emotion they want to give. An effective setting can be scary, delightful, or even mysterious.

For example: A room suffocating with dust and clothed in cobwebs with newspaper clippings cluttering the walls is a mysterious place. It makes you want to know what is on those newspaper clippings and who put them on the walls.

By far, the best way to make your writing mysterious is by writing mysteriously. It’s all about your tone!

2. Give your characters a secret. When your protagonist has a secret, your reader will want to know what it is –especially when he/she fears that their secret is going to come out and vows to do anything to prevent that from happening.

3. Give your characters a past. Just as mysterious as a secret worth dying (or killing) for, is a past that keeps haunting your protagonist and/or antagonist. Revealing their past one piece at a time will keep your readers curious, but make sure that you tell them all there is to know by the time you get to the climax.

4. Put a mask on your antagonist. When your protagonist and readers do not know who the culprit is it guarantees mystery.

5. Show your characters point-of-view. I’ll say it again because I can’t say it enough: Revealing your protagonists’ and antagonists’ thoughts and feelings is extremely important to not only help your readers connect with them, but to also provide suspense and, of course, mystery.

6. Use emotional responses. How we react to certain things can be very mysterious. Perhaps your protagonist becomes angry when another character says or does something. The reader will want to know why they responded that way.

7. Pose questions. Bringing mystery into your story can be as simple as asking a question and not revealing the answer right away.

8. Reveal clues. This is especially important for murder mysteries. Start by uncovering small clues that seem strange and irrelevant but leads to the bigger picture, whatever that may be.

9. What all of the above boils down to is to be secretive! Even if you’re not writing a mystery novel and you don’t have an antagonist, you can still create mystery by being secretive and not telling your reader everything right from the get-go. Instead, draw out the anticipation by revealing the facts one at a time.

10. The most effective method in my opinion is to keep your readers guessing! Throw  something at them that makes them believe someone else is the murderer, or provide a plot twist that will cause your readers to doubt what they thought they knew.

SHARE: Your tips for creating mystery.

October 12, 2012

How To Build Suspense

Suspense makes your reader’s heart pound uncontrollably, their hands sweat around your book, and drives them to read faster so they can turn the page to find out what is going to happen next.

Not every genre calls for suspense, but if your story is driven by it then here are ten tips to help you build suspense.

1. Plot is the biggest key to suspense. To being with, you have to create events in your story that can be suspenseful like a fight, a kidnapping, a car accident, etc.

2. Setting and tone. A place can be very suspenseful –especially if it’s a dangerous place such as an alley, an abandoned building, or a drug dealer's home. Lighting is also a factor in suspense. If your protagonist is in pitch darkness and can’t see two inches in front of their face the suspense is much higher.

Tone is equally important. Actually, aside from plot, tone is more important than anything else is. If you use a dark suspenseful tone then you heighten the suspense just with your voice. Imagine you are telling a scary story, how would you talk to your audience to create suspense and fear?
3. A good protagonist and a good antagonist can make all the difference. See Blog #33 Protagonist VS. Antagonist to help you create characters that can drive your story and cause suspense.

4. Show your character’s point-of-view. Whatever sort of suspense you are creating, it should always be your top priority to reveal what your protagonist is thinking and feeling. When you show their fear to the reader, then your reader will fear too.

Don’t just focus on the protagonist though. Take the opportunity to get into your antagonist’s mind. Just by revealing their twisted thoughts and motives, you are building the suspense.

5. Use short sentences and fast pace. Just like when you’re writing action, a fast pace means there’s more action and more suspense.

6. Set a time limit. Nothing creates more suspense than a ticking clock, like a bomb that is counting down its last seconds. Perhaps your character is a detective investigating a series of crimes and they have to catch the suspect before they kill again. Have the antagonist reveal that he/she is going to kill again in a certain amount of time then make your protagonist scramble to try to stop him/her.

7. Create high stakes. Your character’s life (or the life of someone they know), their sanity, or the fate of the whole world could be on the line. It’s up to you! Whatever the stakes are, make the threat and the danger real. If there is a bomb, make it come within seconds from going off. Heck, make it go off just as your character is escaping. Now that is suspenseful!

8. Set the odds against the protagonist. If there is no struggle, there is no suspense! It has to seem almost impossible, or that the protagonist may not win after all. Throw complications and dilemmas at your protagonist left and right, something that will make them stumble in their investigation or cause a problem.

9. Fear! Using the protagonist’s fears against them is a sure way to build suspense because when you use fear, suspense is right around the corner. You can even play into your reader’s phobias by writing about fears many people share, like the fear of spiders, drowning, heights, etc.

10.  And my favorite weapon to use to build suspense is… SURPRISING THE HECK OUT OF YOUR READER! This is the best way to build suspense and is quite fun to do when you know that your reader won’t ever suspect what you just wrote. A twist in the plot will make their jaws drop and their minds race. After all, when your story is unpredictable it has suspense written all over it.

SHARE: Your tips to building suspense.

Get Ready, Set, Tone!

October 05, 2012

Writing Filling Material

Chapter Ten was one of your BIG BANG chapters that thrills, excites, and shocks your readers. You wrote something explosive like a grisly murder, a steamy love scene, a tragic car accident, etc. You made your readers bite their nails and hold their breath.
Chapters eleven and twelve is the fallout to the drama that happened in chapter ten. This is where you wrote about your detective investigating the horrid crime scene, what your two characters did after they made love, or the chaotic events at the hospital following the terrible car accident.
Now chapters thirteen and fourteen are once again filling material and small events that link what happened in chapter ten with what is waiting to happen in later chapters. Remember to consult your detailed plan to make sure you keep on track and don’t forget something important.
Chapters thirteen and fourteen can literally be anything that you can think of that fits your genre and storyline. For a mystery/thriller this is the perfect time for your detective to bring in a suspect (or two) for interrogation about the murders that have been consuming your novel.
For a romance, your two characters could fight, or something (or someone) could split them apart just when they are beginning to fall in love. They may struggle with their feelings for each other and even try to bury them.
Whatever happens in your book, just remember that now is the time to slow down the pace (even if you slow it down just a tad for a thriller) and create material that can gradually build your story back up for the real BIG BANG at the end of your story.

QUESTION: Do you have an author that you look up to and aspire to become?