Tag Archives: suspense

Pace of Revelation

Writing mysteries/thrillers requires a great deal of control. The writer must tightly plot so there are no loose ends, no gaping plot holes, and perfect pacing. While pacing is important to all prose, these genres, especially, require the writer’s astute handling of it.

These genres hinge upon raising questions in the mind of the reader. What has happened? Who is behind it? How bad is it? Will our hero recover? Will he or she find answers? The writer doesn’t want the reader inundated with questions on page one. They’ll feel overwhelmed and give up. Space questions out and allow them to build. As the protagonist moves through his crisis, the reader asks questions. The best pacing allows the reader to experience tension and anxiety but also allows moments of relaxation, time to seek answers without worrying the hero is facing immediate death.

These are not easy things to accomplish, but they are essential. A story that reveals too much too fast falls flat in the last half of the book. A story that reveals too little, loses the reader to confusion early on. The goal must always be to reveal enough to keep the reader reading on, but not too much or the reader is ahead of the plot. Check your story. Are you revealing things at a pace that is good for it? Good for the plot? Good for the characters? If not, do you need to speed up or slow down? Revise accordingly.

Other Articles on Pacing:

Steven Symes

Writing.com

Writer’s Digest

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Introducing Indie Writer Julie Coulter Bellon!

AllFallDownI am thrilled to introduce Julie Coulter Bellon to you. She is an award-winning suspense novelist with enough success for several authors. I read her novel, All Fall Down, which I’ll review Friday. Plus, tomorrow we’ll have a giveaway!! Be here!! Trust me!!! Her blog is her take on life and her writing. In fact sneak over there now and you’ll find an excerpt from her newest project, Pocket Full of Posies. BUT read her interview first to learn more about her. I am a huge fan already. Partly because we have so much in common and partly because she writes for me. Seriously, just for me. Wink, wink. Julie is not only a great writer, she is a super nice lady. Win-win.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to writing? I’ve always loved writing and in the second grade won second place for my essay, Why We Should Respect the Cow. (Because really, cows are awesome!) I submitted my first manuscript to several publishing companies and received rejections from all of them. I was discouraged because my dream was to become a published author and apparently, my writing sucked, judging by the rejections in my hand. So I put my manuscript under my bed and let it gather dust for a year. Then, one of my published author friends encouraged me to dust it off and make the changes that had been suggested. I did, re-submitted, and had three offers for it within two weeks. I felt so dumb for wasting so much time wallowing in self-pity!

What drew you to the genre you write? I’ve always liked romantic suspense. Spies, danger, Navy SEALs, combined with romance? It’s a lethal combination! (See what I did there? Lethal combination?)

 Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? This is going to sound odd, but I have loved Shakespeare ever since I was first introduced to him. That’s partly why I was an English major. The way he manipulates the language, evokes emotion, and presents a compelling story amazes me. I even went to London to see his birthplace, where he proposed to his wife, and the Globe theater. One of the highlights of my life!

 Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published? Oops, see question #1

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre? Because I was traditionally published I had an established fan base when I went indie. That was incredibly helpful, but I’ve tried to grow my readership with Goodreads contests, newsletters, presenting at writing conferences, contests and giveaways on my blog, sneak peeks, blog tours, and I’ll be doing Kindle Matchbook as well. There’s such a great support for indies out there if you know how to find them. I love that about our community.

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with? I really loved Rafe and Claire from All Fall Down. They’ve been making cameos in the rest of the series, but I’d love to write another story for them.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? It sounds cliché, but never give up, never surrender. (GalaxyQuest is an awesome show to quote, right?) Don’t waste all the time I did on feeling bad about a rejection. Pick yourself up, make changes or adjustments to the characters, setting, dialogue, writing style, whatever isn’t working, and the right avenue for getting your book in readers’ hands will open up. The only difference between a published author and an unpublished author is that one gave up. I believe that. I’m proof of that!

Which of your characters would you most like to invite to dinner, and why? Oh, that’s a hard one. Probably Claire from All Fall Down She’s had an interesting life being a hostage negotiator and she has some complicated family around her that would make the dinner conversation lively as well. Plus, if anyone tried to crash the dinner she could kick some butt! Love her.

What project are you working on now? My new novel, Pocket Full of Posies (the third installment of the Hostage Negotiation Team series) is due out in October. I’m so excited for this one and am frantically trying to finish the last of the edits on it. Eek. (I just posted a sneak peek chapter on my blog)

Who is your favorite literary figure? (I’ve had a lifelong crush on Atticus Finch) Mr.Darcy hands down. (And he always looks exactly like Colin Firth when I imagine him. Surprising, right?

You can learn more about her books on Amazon. Ashes2Ashesindie-crediblebanner copy

Check out the other Indie-Credible Authors here or here.

Tomorrow: The big giveaway!!!

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Recently a new author friend, Karen Welch, tagged me to participate in this blog hop. It’s an opportunity to share information about The GAP Project and then I get to tag two other people giving them an opportunity to tell about their work in progress. You can check out Karen at Lost in the Plains where you can learn about her (a southern transplant to the Midwest) and her book (Offered for Love) which is about how far we’ll go to sacrifice for those we care about.

Now for the questions:

What is the title of your book?

The GAP Project has evolved. It’s had a couple of titles as the book has gone through revisions. This is the one that makes the most sense with the story and actually came about after talking to Louise Fury at a conference. My critique group and I sat down and brainstormed new titles and The GAP Project was born.

Where did the idea come for your book?

I had a dream one cold January night. As dreams go, it was tragically inadequate for writing a novel. However, the main character, Ginny, a teenager who spent her life believing she’s adopted finds out in a most horrifying way that she wasn’t. She was “made up of goopy stuff in  lab somewhere.”

What genre does your book fall under?

GAP is a sci-fi suspense novel for young adults. The main characters, Ginny, Toad, and Mayo, are all 17. The book is heavily based on medical research and science and since one faction of the government sold Ginny and another faction is trying to “shut her down,” she spends the entire book running from bad elements.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Like all writers I’ve thought about this. I don’t know many young actors, and the few I do, not impressed with. However, Jennifer Lawrence is amazing and if you put curly red hair on her…maybe. 🙂 I think if I were ever so lucky, I would allow the casting people to do what they do best but I would ask to have final approval. I have seen enough bad casting to know I’d want the power to say, “That’s a horrid fit.”

What is the one sentence pitch for your novel?

Ginny Carrera discovers she’s genetically engineered to regenerate, but there are people who seek to appropriate her for her unique DNA, and they’ll have to beat out the government seeking to shut her down before anyone else realizes The GAP Project exists.

How long did it take you to write the first draft?

About six weeks. It was horrid, of course, but I needed to get down the kernel from the dream before I lost it. I’ve spent the time since trying to make it make sense.

What other books would you compare it to in your genre?

I’m sure there are some closer but I haven’t read them. Being by Kevin Brooks is creepy and definitely has some of Ginny’s elements. Here and There by Denise Grover Swank reminded me in ways of Ginny. Mostly in the running from bad elements. I highly recommend them especially if you’re intrigued by parallel worlds.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The dream inspired the character and basic idea. However, the idea of writing for teenagers came from 18 years of teaching them. They were always giving me ideas and keeping me intrigued even on my darkest days.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, there’s romance, of course. It’s also the first of three books that will explore the impact on Ginny and others like her, intended to rescue society, and then left to die.

Thanks for stopping by my spot on the web. I’m back to those edits. I’m almost done. Yeah!!!

I’m tagging Randi Lee to tell us about the novel she’s working diligently on and Leatrice McKinney has an amazing novel to share with us. Enjoy their tales next time.

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Demons, Monsters, and Mayhem

MyWindow

Ever since I picked up my first Nancy Drew when I still rode a dinosaur to school, I have loved mysteries. Wilkie Collins, Moonstone was one of my first after Nancy. Soon, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Ellery Queen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie joined the party. In high school, noir fascinated me, Raymond Chandler, specifically. Later, I developed a love for thrillers and suspense novels which share common factors, crime, tight plotting, but are uniquely different as well. In suspense/thriller the point is not usually whodunnit but will they get away with doing it?

Edgar Allan Poe introduced me to horror in print and Alfred Hitchcock scared me silly with his films. My favorite horror story doesn’t lean on blood and gore or serial killers but takes me to a dark place in my heart. That place where all humans can go when pushed to the limits of their endurance, that breaking point. For me too many times horror hinges on the visual gore or the one-upmanship of being more far out than the one that came before. I love horror that is all the more scary for its understatement. The horror that slips up behind you, when the world appears completely normal and at peace, and guts you in seconds. A good example of this for me is Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.

Mystery stories are tightly plotted, and one of the attractions for me. There are specific rules of this genre that the writer must adhere to in order to “play fair.” As a reader, I like this. Tropes of this genre are well-known; the murder weapon, clues, red herrings, the now interesting CSI effect – follow the DNA, the crusty detective or cop, the fem fatale, the gathering of the potential perps for the big “reveal”. Huge rule in mystery, if you draw emphasis to a scarf on page ten, you better plan on strangling somebody with it by page 30.

Horror stories include tropes such as the mad scientist, the ‘invention’ that overcomes the master, monsters and creatures of our nightmares. Horror has the quality of being able to manipulate the reader into believing that his own fears are coming to life. It can elicit the same physical reactions as experiencing it in reality. For me horror has to walk a fine line to avoid missing the suspension of disbelief. Today’s horror films have disillusioned my sons because they find them funnier than scary. This is the risk with horror. When you go too far, the reader or viewer disengages.

All writing requires attention to detail and foresight. Mystery, however, requires more planning than some genres if you hope to have 2 + 2 add up to the required 4 at the end. Horror, I believe, requires insight into a place few people want to go. If the worst were to happen, what am I capable of? The answer to that question, when pursued honestly, is horrific.

Talking genre is a lot of fun. Be sure to check out Natasha’s post on the paranormal genre here. L.L. McKinney’s post on Sci-Fi and Fantasy can be found on Tangynt. And pop over to Novel Clique to take a poll on genre.

What are your favorite tropes for mystery? Horror?

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