We're looking at tension, conflict, and suspense this week. You can find tension and conflict here. Onward to suspense . . . What is Suspense? "Suspense is any unresolved tension in the story that makes the reader want to see what happens next," says James Scott Bell. Raymond Obstfeld agrees: "On a basic level, suspense … Continue reading Suspense: What it is and Ways to Create It
Conflict is the tool that fills up the vast majority of your story and provides the bumps that are the journey the reader takes from the opening character-with-a-goal to the closing character-who's-achieved-(or not)-her-goal. So . . . What is Conflict? Half a dozen masters put conflict this way: two dogs, one bone. "The idea of … Continue reading Core Conflict: What is it?
Some stories seem to lend themselves to lots of clones, others not so much. These are the clones examples I've noticed in the books I've read lately. 1. James Patterson's Hope to Die In Hope to Die, where protagonist Alex Cross is trying to rescue his kidnapped family, Patterson uses clones for stakes purposes. Every … Continue reading Clones: How the Masters Use Them
One way of showing theme and thematic premise is through comparing and contrasting the main character’s thematic traits with those of supporting characters. Characters who serve this function are often referred to as foils, mirror characters, reflection characters, symbols, or even clones. And they often drive a subplot (which we may look at in more … Continue reading Clones: Variations on Theme Through Character
When doing concept a couple weeks ago, I popped off a few examples to show each master's way of writing concept. When illustrating Mr. Iglesias’ approach, I wrote this: A high school dance troupe rallies around its wrongly suspended captain to form a karate team and take state before they graduate. This concept sentence didn’t come out … Continue reading Stakes: Show us what you’ve got!
A couple weeks ago we looked at how master novelists write one-line synopses. One of them really emphasized stakes, so I picked that one to read with an eye for developing, heightening, and deepening stakes. Ladies and Gents, I give you: some of the stakes in James Patterson's Hope to Die. SO HOW DOES PATTERSON DEVELOP HIS STORY’S … Continue reading Stakes: How James Patterson does it
The masters agree: stories most often fail because the stakes aren't high enough. But there is plenty we can do to ensure lack of stakes doesn't happen to our stories. What are Stakes? Although many masters discuss them, only a few actually define stakes: For Karl Iglesias, "Stakes are what your character has to win or lose;" they "are … Continue reading Stakes: So what? Who cares?