Tools 30 & 31

Tool 30 ~ To generate suspense, use internal cliffhangers.

“To propel readers, make them wait.”

My only comment? If you don’t understand this one you need to read more children’s books, like the Hunger Games, for instance. Get out there. Read something, and this tool will be completely obvious.

Oh, and Clark recommends Nancy Drew. Like I said, children’s books. They’re the best.

(If you get really bored, watch for cliff hangers in TV dramas. They’re great . . . or awful, depending if one likes the show or not. And apparently they are great for blogs too. Just saying.)

Tool 31 ~ Build your work around a key question.

Clark must have been thinking of Dickens’ here. Talk about cliff-hangers and having to read to the next chapter to answer the question, “What’s going to happen!?!?” Pure greatness.

“Stories need an engine, a question that the action answers for the reader.”

I thought the engine was the theme of the story, but apparently it’s not. I think it is better described as the energy that drives the story forward–it is the questions the plot is asking–while the theme is the undercurrent flowing beneath the questions. And, Clark makes sure to point out, the engine can either be asking what or how questions. What is going to happen? Or if the reader already knows what is going to happen . . . he wonders how it will happen.

“Good writers anticipate the reader’s questions and answer them. Editors will keep lookout for holes in the story where key questions are left unanswered. Storytellers take these questions to a narrative level, creating in the reader a curiosity that can only be quenched by reaching the end” (153).

 

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