Monday, February 13, 2012

How to Write Chapters and Building Suspense

I started my next thriller, but it felt like a false start. I started worrying I'll have to go back to the drawing board.

Then I remembered a valuable lesson I learned while writing my other thriller. How to write chapters. This was a brand new lesson for me. It's also the nitty gritty part of crafting fiction. I learned a rather neat trick that works well for me.

Now, I have no idea if this trick works for other writers, or if it's an age-old trick and I'm late in the game. Either way, it's a good lesson and I planned to share it on this blog.

Here's the trick:

Write each chapter like a short story without an ending.

For myself, I find it too easy to get bogged down with the whole story, that writing each chapter can seem impossible, and I end up rewriting. This is a bad habit. With my other thriller, one thing that helped a lot to keep going and finish a whole book, was to approach each chapter like a short story.

It's all the same, you see. It's still crafting fiction.

Surprisingly, not writing a definitive ending to each chapter not only helped to keep going, but also built suspense. The story became a page-turner. After all, there's only one ending in the last chapter. I realized that giving an ending to each chapter was a block. I was finishing with the story before I got started :(

I ended up writing constantly because I wanted to get to the ending. It was a form of beautiful torture, like holding a carrot at the end of a stick. So I kept going.

Since a lot of lessons I learned from writing and completing a thriller novel are still relatively new to me, I had to remind myself. Already, with my current project, I put in blocks.

But! Now that I've remembered, I know I don't need to go back to the drawing board. I have a two page outline, a one paragraph synopsis, a one page chapter outline. The drawing board is already full.

It's time for the nitty gritty. One chapter at a time. And no endings.

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