Recently, a lovely writer friend, acting as my omega reader, suggested I increase the tension in the last third of my next book, An Illusion of Trust. That could only make it a better book, right? She even explained further what she meant by that. Okay, I thought, no problem.
Now I have 100 pages of manuscript daring me to revise them. I’m not good with tension. I don’t read (or watch) many thrillers because I can’t stand the tension. Even in non-thriller fiction, I’m often tempted to peek ahead because I can’t take waiting to see how things work out. So writing tension does not come easy for me.
One of my first beta readers for this book, suggested I prolong the mystery a bit in one scene. Obviously, I tend to reveal too quickly. My omega reader commented that I do a good job of building tension and then releasing it just a bit in the first two-thirds of Illusion, so it would seem I just need to leave out the release in the last third. Why is that so hard?
Of course—as usual—I’m over-thinking this task. I just need to leave a few points unresolved until later in the story. I might only need to voice more of my main character’s thoughts a little more, to show that uncertainty still exists. Yes.
Any minute now …
10 thoughts on “It’s a good thing I don’t write thrillers!”
Ha! – loving the last part of your post. I love authors who reveal early as well as later and even multiple times throughout the whole book. Good Luck – don’t be like kitty and hang from a limb though!
Thanks, Renee. Unfortunately, I hang from a lot of different branches when I’m writing. 😉
Linda, I’m sending you an article I think you’ll find helpful. It was too long to post here. Hope it helps!
Thanks for sharing, Les. Great article. Oh so simple, isn’t it? I’ve saved the answer to the BIG question until last, of course, so my task for the section in question is to identify where I’ve answered the little questions too soon and revise to hold off a bit longer. 😉
Not another one! My wife does that, too. She can’t stand the suspense! She sneaks peeks to see how it ends before she gets started. *slaps head* 😉
Best of luck with whatever you decide, Linda.
Oh I know it’s a horrible habit, Jimmy. But it’s actually a compliment to the author, right? 🙂 Thank you.
Maybe you could also choose a couple small questions and leave them unanswered. When I wrote my only thriller (LOL – Can’t help but laugh at how weird that sounds now) I rarely answered the small questions directly – I alluded and allowed the reader to reach their own conclusions, or at least planted the seeds for those less likely to invest a conscious effort. Then, as the plot thickened and the big question resolved at the end, the answers to the little questions materialized, unspoken, as they were the (now) obvious clues by which to support the plot’s final resolve. Hopefully this gave the reader cause to reflect and reevaluate the major and minor plot points and turns in the text. I think the most difficult part for me was keeping those clues from getting lost in the clutter of the story, which I think is where effective editing turns a good story into one that is unforgettable. Whether I was successful or not remains to be seen since I’ve not allowed anyone to read the final 1/3rd. 😉
Sounds like you hit the key to thriller writing, DS. The article Les Edgerton sent me (see comment above) was by the author of the Jack Reacher thrillers and he wrote that asking questions but not giving the answers right away is how he builds tension. I’m not writing a thriller, so I don’t need as much of that, but I do need to build the tension a bit more in one section. I think I’m stalling because I know I’m going to have to cut a couple scenes and that’s always hard for me. Well, maybe not cut, just change the tone—drastically. 😉
Hehe, tension! I was just at a book group where one of the ladies confessed to always reading the ends of books before she even starts them. She can’t stand not knowing! She happened to win the copy of The Breakaway I was giving away. I signed it to her and told her she could only have it if she didn’t read the ending first. I think that gave her a little heart attack.
I usually stop myself from looking ahead, Michelle, but it’s awfully hard sometimes. I don’t think I’ve ever read the ending ahead of time, though. LOL I’ll remember not to do that with your books. 🙂