I blog about writing romantic thrillers - and sometimes things that go bump in the night!
Saturday, 9 June 2012
The Bomb Under the Table
I think I enjoy plotting and writing thrillers because I love reading a book that grips me from beginning to end with the ‘will he /won’t he succeed’ motif and the feeling that disaster is around every corner. Following the protagonist as he battles against what seem like unsurmountable odds and wondering if he could ever succeed in his ultimate goal... The dictionary defines supense as a state of uncertainty and this is certainly what is at the heart of all thriller stories. But the supense has to be maintained and in the case of a full length novel that can be difficult. This is why we have cliches about page turners and cliff edge endings - especially at the end of chapters. It is the delicate art of suspense.
Keeping readers on the proverbial edges of their seats is what I always aim for but I know this type of book is not to everyone’s taste but for me it is the bedrock of good story telling.
One of the best proponents of the art of suspense was Alfred Hitchcock and I seem to recall reading somewhere that he said one of the greatest ways to create really good suspense was to put a bomb under a table where people, unbeknowingly, are playing a dull game of cards. The audience of course would know the bomb was there and ticking but the players would not. What unbearable suspense for the audience!
Suspense in thrillers, in my humble opinion, is the key to success. A rising tension with lots of problems and conflict that the main character has to contend with is what keeps a reader guessing. But most of all it keeps the reader reading! A bomb under the table doesn’t hurt either!
Do you try to create bombs/shocks that put the reader into a state of uncertainty for the whole length of the story?