Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sneeze post: Suspense

Sneeze post?! What’s a sneeze post?

Think of a sneeze. It distributes “stuff” in various directions.

A sneeze post “simply directs readers in multiple directions at once,” says Darren Rowse at ProBlogger.

Think of a sneeze post as a roundup, a collection. If you don’t like the thought of me sneezing on you, think of me handing you a bouquet.

Today’s sneeze post is a collection of quotes and links about suspense.

Your memoir needs suspense: It hooks your reader and makes him eager to know the outcome—but makes him wait for it. Suspense implies an uncomfortable waiting mixed with impatience for a good resolution. It arouses curiosity. It keeps him reading.

Let’s look at this important ingredient for your memoir: Suspense. Conflict. Tension. Friction. Anxiety.

Here we go! Ah…ah….CHOOOOO!

Tension is “an essential element of any narrative worth telling. A plot without tension is a flat line, a life with no rises, no dips, no anima. Life, by definition, involves tension.… Tension is the medium in which we breathe every day.” Dan Allender

“A nonfiction writer needs to establish conflict right away.… [But] unlike a novelist, you can’t dwell on conflict. Nobody wants a book that defines their problem for them.… I’m looking for a book that will offer me a solution.…” Chip MacGregor  

“Conflict is good: Stories boil down to conflict. We crave that tension and a barrier between the hero and what he/she is seeking. That’s what separates a good story from just an anecdote that may be told at the water cooler.” Slash Coleman

“… Conflict has to occur not just on the larger scale … but also on the smaller theater of the character’s inner life.… Include the outer battle (the physical reaction to the conflict) and the inner battle (the psychological and emotional reaction to events).” K.M. Weiland

“… The cliffhanger is a striking event that happens at the end of an episode, chapter, scene, or season of a story. It leaves doubt in the reader’s mind—usually regarding the fate of the protagonist—and all but forces them to come back to see what comes next.… You want each ‘scene’ to lead your readers deeper and deeper.” Robert Bruce

At FaithWriters blog, Lillian Duncan offers ways to work tension into your stories. Here are a few to enhance memoir:

Introducing unpredictability

Ending chapters with a cliffhanger

Facing a time limit

Foreshadowing (hints of what is coming, or might come, in the future)

Throwing out a red herring (diversion)

Keeping stakes high

(Read more at Lillian’s “Writing Suspense.” Many if not all of her fiction techniques also apply to nonfiction.)

Find the drama in your story and highlight it, but keep a proper balance.

“Stories are about balance. A tale in which there is no conflict is going to be just about as boring as watching condensation dissipate. But a tale that never pauses to let its characters (or its readers) catch their breath is boring in its own way. We have to find ways to adjust the level of the conflict. We have to give our characters a chance to slow down and get their thoughts gathered.…”  K.M.Weiland

Next time we’ll look at more tips. For now, look over your rough drafts and find ways to heighten suspense. Have fun doing it.

Remember: Your stories are important. 
Your stories can bless individuals, families, 
communities, town, nations, even the world. 
They can change lives for eternity. Write your stories!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post,Linda, filled with memoir "pearls" Shall I say God Bless You? :-)