Monday, August 18, 2008

Cliff Hangers

I'm so excited. I just left my male protag hanging on a cliff. Literally. In the middle of a storm.

Ya gotta love it.

What I'm floundering with right now is how to pick up the simultaneous scene at the key moment—and well, what is that key moment. One of the best pieces of advice any author can follow is to come into a scene late and leave early. It keeps the action taut and the pace strong. Obviously this is a key to a suspense novelist.

I'm tempted to just go ahead and write the thing, and then go on a word-whacking expedition. But I'd really rather not. I've whacked enough lately. I believe that if I put enough thought into it (with my internal editor whacking away) I can come upon the most amazing entry spot. Better than tears. Better than anger.

I'm thinking fear. Gut-wrenching and visceral. The core.

Then the question is . . . whose point of view? The rule of thumb is that the POV belongs to the person who, for that scene, has the most to lose. My nature is to test "rules of thumb" so my mental Olympics have popped into high gear. And the medal goes to . . . the Rule of Thumb. It means initiating yet another POV, but it will create such an intensity that the scene will practically write itself.

Leave the scene early (Chase is in trouble).

Come into a scene late (Angela isn't wondering if she's being stalked . . . she knows it).

Who has the most to lose? (While Bond, as the mother, could be justified as the POV character, it is, after all, Angela's life that's being threatened—so Angela it is.)

Currently reading: The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield.

It's all better with friends.


  1. Wow, Peg. Following your blog is like reading your manuscript, distilled. What's going to happen to Angela? Will she escape? Will she be captured? Will she live? Eek! Great post. :-)

  2. This is great, Peg, and something I needed to read today. I'm working on some cliff-hangers as well.

    Nice insight. Love it!

    Other Peg

  3. Okay . . . true confessions. I exaggerated when I said it would write itself.


    I keep making myself go deeper into fear . . . before my revered critique partners make me.

    Now I know why there are more readers than writers. What remains of writers is the cowering mass in the corner of a basement somewhere.

    Bliss it ain't.