Tuesday, April 6, 2010

E is for Enormous Trouble

Remember watching cartoons when you were younger and they showed a pebble rolling down a snowy mountain? The pebble picked up speed and snow and by the time it got to the village below it was an enormous. That’s kind of what needs to happen in a suspense novel. The heroine needs to get into "E" is for Enormous trouble, try to solve it…leading to more and more trouble. Hot water is the order of the day.

This technique keeps the reader’s interest, because a high level of emotion is compelling. The problem with so much of conflict is that after while; your character starts to look like a crap-magnet. It’s unlikely that a meteor, a devastating misunderstanding, and an evil villain would all befall your main character at once…if at all. So how to remedy?

Conflict has to build, like a slow pressure pushing upwards. I try not to have my heroine’s home fire-bombed by savage gang member right away. I save it for the middle of the book. Hitchcock was a master at building suspense. Strange comments, near misses, and internal struggle all kept me on the edge of my seat. I learned some great lessons from him. For one, keeping the reigns on the drama, letting it building it gradually, leaves room for suspense.

Men with Pens, has a great article on escalating conflict within interpersonal relationships, if you’re interested. I’ve recently gone back over my book, Ruby Dawn, in revisions to take a second look at my pace and romantic subplot. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I wonder what gives you the most trouble when building tension in your work.  Do you have any tricks or tips you'd like to share?

Until next time…Go Write!

Photograph by kamshots, Uploaded on february 9, 2007. Photograph by Roberto Verzo, Uploaded on August 1, 2009.

11 comments:

Watery Tart said...

GREAT way to look at this! In fact I think it's more helpful that the dozens of other hints I've ever seen because there is a graphic in my mind about it that is tangible--THANKS!

One Cluttered Brain said...

Try using Google Chrome And mozilla firefox next time when you load my blog. That should help. IE does not load my blog properly.

Rae said...

Conflict seems to find me pretty easily! I just wish I was talented enough and dedicated enough to tackle it and rule it on paper!
You have made me want more writing instruction! Glad I found your blog!

Gregg said...

Your comments were excellent! You are right, ultimately, I guess when it comes right down to the Manucript family, the Greek Text, and the translation, the one someone will really read is a good one. Thanks!

Mary McDonald said...

Loved this post. I'm 1/4 of the way through a romantic suspense novel, and this is exactly the kind of advice I need. You spelled it out so clearly, I had a light-bulb moment. Thanks! Btw, who is pushing that snowball?

Raquel Byrnes said...

The photo is of random people...I don't know them. Thanks for the great comment. Made me feel good. =)

Wanda said...

Interesting post. Thanks for stopping by my place. I'm now follow you. Love the color of your blog btw.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My book isn't about suspense, but it does require building tension, especially during fight sequences.

AchingHope said...

Yes, I need to work on this when I go to edit one of my wip's. Conflist can be a tricky eel.

Not enough hours! said...

What a brilliant way of putting it- your description was so picturesque, I could see the tension building up before my eyes.
Am following you, and will be back for more.

~ Rayna

AprilC - GaFlyGirl said...

good A-z challenge post!