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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Creating Tension with Claire McGowan

AN EXCELLENT LECTURE/ WORKSHOP ON CREATING TENSION... hope you find these notes helpful.  I certainly did...

Vanessa :)

The Art of Suspense...
  • to hang
  • to be in abeyance
  • a state of mental instability
1) WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

Suspense is about waiting...

* The Secret Keeper - the character, not the reader, knows...
* The locked room puzzle

a)

  • traumatised narrators
  • Unreliable narrators (The taming of the shrew)
  • young narrators (The Curious incident of the dog in the night time)


Consider... Tokyo, Room, Every vow you break...

Also, take into account 1st/ 3rd person variants


The "There or Not?" & "When and Where?"
b) Hercule Poirot's Christmas


2) WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
a) 

  • Jeopardy
  • Loss
  • High stakes
  • Posing big questions


E.g. Jurassic Park, One Day
b)
  • Reader knows, character doesn't 
  • race against time
  • race over distance
  • the killer speaks

3) CLIMAX
  • Start with the setting (opening scene, chracter introductions)
  • Set up (initiating event)
  • Rising Action (Conflict, sub-climaxes, turning points, attempt)
  • CLIMAX
  • Falling action
  • Resolution
4) TOOLS
  • PROLOGUE
  • OPENING PAGES
  • CUTTING BETWEEN STORYLINES
  • TWISTS
  • USE KEY WORDS - "Blood", "death", "body"
  • CLIFFHANGERS
  • CHANGE BETWEEN POV'S OR CHARACTERS
  • PACING
  • ESCALATION (layers ... think Jurassic Park)
  • PACING
  • ESCALATION
  • CONFLICT
  • DILEMNA'S
  • HURT YOUR CHARACTERS
  • USE OF DIALOGUE TO CREATE "DRAMA"
  • ACTION/ SITUATION - Is it necessary?
BUT THE MOST USEFUL...
  • CHARACTERISATION - Give them something to lose...
***CAVEAT***

The Art of withholding something forever...

E.g. The Little Friend, Something Might happen, Int the woods, The Little Stranger

5) BOOK LIST
  • A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • Every Vow You Break by Julie Crouch
  • Relentless by Simon Kernick
  • Killing Floor by Lee Child
6) EXERCISE

The story starts with...

It was a Monday when I decided to kill Mary...

...continue - you have 1 minute!

This is what I wrote...

It was a Monday when I decided to kill Mary because I was tired.  I was tired of Mary. I don't feel bad about it. She deserved it. What I did wonder was whether I could have dealt with the body another way.  I was foolish and naive.  It should have been another way.

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