How was your Thanksgiving? Were you able to write and or even reach your word count goal? I had a nice Thanksgiving, even though I lost at Monopoly afterwards. Although I had a get out of jail free card, I refused to use it, wanting to hold onto it for later. I was also trying my hardest to land on Pennsylvania Avenue. I wanted to buy it before anyone else did as I’d already owned the other two green properties. In the end, I was the second one to mortgage all my property away. And my remaining money as I couldn’t afford the $10 million hotel rent to another player.
Anyways, let get to todays post. For NaNoFiWriMo, I’m writing a short nonfiction book. It’s a how to book on the basics of writing for aspiring writers who are also working parents. Specifically, working moms but any parent or aspiring writer may find it useful. It is a collection of my knowledge, lessons learned, from the perspective of both a reader and a writer.
As you can’t build a house without a foundation, trying to write a book without knowing the basics leads to a huge amount of cuts, edits and revisions. And one problem we often have trouble with, as writers, is how to emotionally engage the reader. To engage a reader, you must add suspense to your story. Suspense is a state of feeling. A feeling of excitement or anxiousness of what may happen next. And it can be found in every story, not just only in thrillers, mysteries, horror, fantasy, etc.
Each chapter of your story must contain an element of suspense. And each chapter must have between one to several scenes of mini climaxes. There is a high and low level of tension, the calm before the storm, the peace before the chaos in each before the big Oh-My-God! climax(es) of your story.
Review your chapters and ask yourself what is happening in this particular part of the story? Consider the reaction(s) of your character, their surroundings where the event takes place, etc? Don’t forget to show their emotions and thoughts using body language. Then use the act-scene method. Break down your chapters, just like a Shakespearean play, into either two to three acts with one to two scenes. Or two acts with two to three scenes.
Then use the act-scene method to introduce obstacles, internal and or external, where either option is undesirable. Show your character(s) resolving their problems and thus achieving a sustainable and limited peace. Because just when they think all is well again, you’ll hit your character with an even greater dilemma from the previous one.
How do you tackle writing suspense in your story? How do you build your chapters? Your scenes? Please share in the comments section below.
Here is a diagram, created for my nonfiction book challenge, of how the act-scene method transforms the plot chart diagram from a simple hike to a vigorous, challenging one to engage the reader.