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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More Books and About Suspense

I've been providing various pieces of my books to my publisher in the last week or so -- adjustments to cover art, blurbs, etc. -- which means there will be more available formats soon, plus "Seer, Tyro, Fiend".

And it's steady as she goes on "Janus Games." A friend of mine, also a writer, reported on Facebook that she wrote 100 pages in a day. Wow! If I had full use of both hands, I still don't think I could write that much in a day. It seems that most of the time, I work out scenes in my head first, fiddling with the imagery and words, before I sit down and type it into my manuscript. On rare occasions, the scenes just sort of flow one after another without planning, although that is easier to do in the Faces and Windsong Lake books because they are in first person point of view.

The Jack Watson books present a different sort of process. With multiple points of view, I need to consider what the next event is chronologically and which character is best to present that event. This can be elementary in some cases as only one POV character is present in the scene. Where there is more than one, however, deciding who should "drive" can be tricky. Sometimes there's no clear choice, with advantages for each candidate.

I'm also conscious of balancing the on-stage time for all my POV characters, especially the unknown "bad guy(s)." In both earlier Watson books, the protagonists don't know what's coming, but by introducing the point of view of the antagonist, the reader gets an idea of it in advance. This is one way to avoid a lot of post-climactic explanation about the baddies' motives and plans. I also hope this is a device to build suspense, maybe making the reader long to warn my heroes of impending doom.

I remember something from my childhood that sort of relates. A friend of my sister went to see some horror movie, one of those 1960's shockers that mostly come off cheesy today. Anyway, the ubiquitous negligee-clad leading lady was creeping deeper into the BAD PLACE, and the theater audience had fallen silent with suspense since they knew she was walking into danger and horror. Then, as the screen heroine placed her hand on a door knob, my sister's friend shouted, "Don't go in there!" I'm sure the film's creators would have grimaced at the burst of laughter in that theater, an abrupt release of all that tension prior to the big reveal which should have induced screams.

As a novelist, I can at least imagine a reader reacting to a suspenseful buildup with an equal impulse to shout out a warning.

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