Saturday, 13 April 2013

Writing and suspense

'A book is a friend that does what no friend can do - stay quiet when you want to think!'

 The Birds

There is a tremendous skill in developing suspense in a film to the point where the viewer is on the edge of their seat and then gasps in surprise when the moment bursts forth. The Birds directed by Hitchcock, a master of suspense in every sense of the word, is tormenting in the extent to which it holds the watchers in the palm of his hand until he finally releases the long awaited screeching mayhem only to end the film with the return to the silent threat and re-introduce the tension once more.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could write our stories and produce that level of expectation every time. The question is how do we engage the imagination of the reader to the extent where they need to read onward. To drive the reader to the next page and the next and the next. If mystery and suspense are your genre then this must be one of the aims in mind when you write. In my own pathetic way I've attempted this in the first Steele novel 'I have To Get It Right'. To me, looking back over the work, it was rather rushed and I've endeavoured to address the situation in subsequent stories. like most things in life practice makes perfect!

Going back to the Hitchcock film the way the tension is built up is a master class. For long enough everything seems quite normal, even quiet, but as we all know, by the introduction of relatively minor incidents and the inevitable escalation into full scale attacks, he has the nerves jangling. I don't believe I've seen crows and seagulls in the same light since seeing the film. The ending is great with the young couple making there way to the car through the flocks of birds seemingly waiting to pounce. In many ways the format of the film acts as a template for the building of suspense which can be of use to us storytellers.

For me the use of everyday situations to develop tensions can be very effective. Finding terror in the mundane is something that is most unnerving and will enrich the stories we write. I must try it more often!



The links to ebooks and paperbacks are at the side of this page.

First Steele novel - 'I Have To Get it Right'  - Steele's first steps into the murky world of injustice.

2nd Book - 'The 51st State' - Should we really be aligning ourselves so closely to the USA? What did Steele do about it?

3rd Book - 'The Biter Bit' - Is Patrick A Steele always as invincible as he first appears?

4th Book - 'A Changed Reality' - Society is not what it was. Crime is on the increase and Patrick is busier than ever and his relationship with Naomi is also changing. A 'changed reality' in more than one sense.

5th Book - 'Inceptus' - Still under construction but in its death throes. The end is nigh! How will Steele's relationship develop or will it end in tragedy? Does he survive to fight on against injustice? Watch this space for an announcement regarding the release of this latest story.

God Bless