SuspenseWritten by Jeff Heisler
Continued from page 1
The second essential element is story question. What does reader want to know? Why should they read this scene? Why shouldn’t they put book down? This is crucial so listen closely. From page one to finish, reader must never read a single word without a strong question in mind. Never. I mean it. The moment you write something like first example of Helen’s evening- your readers have no reason to continue and they put book down, sometimes for good. That doesn’t mean that there has to be great mystery in each scene. It does mean every scene should be read while a question hangs in air. Do you notice how great suspense authors braid their novels? In one scene we see hero attacked. The last thing our protagonist sees is butt of a gun bearing down on him. The scene or chapter ends, and now we’re taken somewhere else. We visit perspective of another character, a character with their own set of problems. The reader is firmly hooked now. They are interested in events surrounding second character because it raises more unanswered questions. More than that, they are dying to find out what’s happened to our protagonist from previous scene. Braiding is a powerful technique for creating suspense. Use it whenever you can. Those of you writing more literary or character based works may not feel these techniques are relevant, but they are. Every good author in every genre uses suspense in some way shape or fashion. There’s no story without it.
Jeff Heisler is a freelance writer and novelist. You can see more of his writing tips at www.heislerink.com/writeaway.htm.
Character CreationWritten by Jeff Heisler
Continued from page 1
When you finish your dossier you may want to get creative with it. I've spent time leafing through old magazines until I find a picture of someone who reminds me of my character. I cut picture out and paste it to dossier. Somehow this makes person seem real in my mind. I can think of them as a human rather than a construction when I see an actual face. Step 3- Interview your character. Don't let your family see you do this or they'll call guys with butterfly nets. You need to sit down at keyboard or with your notepad and interview these characters. Ask them all kinds of questions about story and their lives. Why do you need to do this? Because it helps you iron out wrinkles in your character's construction. If you interview your character and they reveal a motivation that just seems weak to you- great. Now you have a chance to fix it before writing hundreds of pages. Step 4- Introducing you character. When you finally sit down to write you'll wonder how you go about introducing your character. A few points to consider: • Introduce them at a moment of change in their lives. Don't show how your character was born and raised in intricate detail- jump into their lives at moment something dramatic happens. Instead of beginning your story "He was born at 2:34am in Lakeview hospital," you can begin like this- "Marvin had never killed anyone before. Looking down at body at his feet he wondered if it would be last time." Whoa! Much more interesting, eh? • "Show, don't tell," still applies. Try to show your character's nature rather than tell about it. The exception is minor characters. You can use some short exposition to explain your minor characters just to get them moving fast. You don't want to spend a large chunk of text describing Boy Scout who helps Granny walk across street- and your reader doesn't either. Just give enough information about kid to get Granny across street- then go back to Granny's life. • Some authors go for bullet approach. Decide if it's right for you. The bullet approach works like this- when a character is introduced story stops briefly and author spends some time writing expository information that gives reader everything they need to know about character. This works for some writers- but I don't recommend it. For one thing fiction has to be hyper-realistic. In real life we don't get to know people all at once like that. It's a gradual discovery. Consider your story and consider what other authors in your genre are doing and decide for yourself. That's basic recipe for character creation. I hope it helps you get your characters off ground and running. Remember- characters are building blocks of story- don't forget to spend time on them before you dive into your first draft. You’ll be glad you did.
Jeff Heisler is a freelance writer and novelist. You can read more of his tips at http:www.heislerink.comwriteaway.htm