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Jan's Master Class--SUSPENSE

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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itsjoanne
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Re: Jan's Master Class--SUSPENSE

Postby itsjoanne » Sat Mar 21, 2009 6:39 pm

glorybee wrote:And now, you try some. You can answer them mentally or post your questions in a reply post (no peeking at Holly’s or Steve’s answers, though). What question does the reader/viewer ask herself for each of the following works:

1. Lord of the Rings
2. Charlotte’s Web
3. LOST (the television show…pick any episode)
4. Noah’s Ark
5. Toy Story
6. You’ve Got Mail


Homework: Tell how you’ve used suspense in your writing. OR tell how suspense is featured in a well-known piece of literature. OR react to anything I’ve written in this lesson. OR answer any of the questions that I posed in the class.



OK - I'll do the best I can with the six above. (and I have NOT looked ahead at any other answers!)
1. [b]Lord of the Rings: will the rings be found? (actually haven't read this, or seen the movies, but I've heard enough that I think this is right!)
2. Charlotte's Web: Will Wilbur be killed for pork?
3. Lost: I hope I will still be allowed on the boards after saying this, but I've never seen it.
4. Noah's Ark: Will Noah, his family, and the animals EVER get off the ark onto dry land?
5. Toy Story: Will Woody get back to his owner? (or is that Toy Story 2? Can't remember LOL)
6. You've Got Mail: Again, never seen it, but know the general premise. So, is it "How will the female lead react when she finds out the man she's fallen for over the internet is her work enemy?"

And since I did this, best I can, here's a link to a story where I used suspense.

Glad She's Crazy

My goal, in the suspense area, with this entry was to keep the folks guessing about who the man in the story was, why we were there - and pretty much everything else, until pretty much the last minute.

Waddayathink?

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Postby glorybee » Sat Mar 21, 2009 6:48 pm

Well, Joanne, I'd answer your question, but instead, I've got to forbid you from ever coming to the boards again. (mumble, mumble, never seen Lost, mumble, mumble...)

Okay, I'm over it.

Yes, your story did a GREAT job with suspense, and it has a superb kicker. Thanks for dropping by class--I'm always happy to see your contributions. I love what you said about keeping the reader guessing until the last minute... that's a great goal, and a perfect way to keep a reader until the very end.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby itsjoanne » Sat Mar 21, 2009 6:52 pm

glorybee wrote:Well, Joanne, I'd answer your question, but instead, I've got to forbid you from ever coming to the boards again. (mumble, mumble, never seen Lost, mumble, mumble...)

Okay, I'm over it.

Yes, your story did a GREAT job with suspense, and it has a superb kicker. Thanks for dropping by class--I'm always happy to see your contributions. I love what you said about keeping the reader guessing until the last minute... that's a great goal, and a perfect way to keep a reader until the very end.


So glad you got over it, Jan ;)

I'm back for a couple weeks, anyway (hopefully longer!). Attending and participating in your classes are one of my "projects" for my book break through the end of the month. :)

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Postby srashmi » Thu May 07, 2009 3:54 am

The TV show 24 is filled with suspense. Every episode ends with a cliff-hanger, even the season finale.

What will the MC do to get out of this one? Will the terrorists succeed? Who will survive this time? Etc.....

I've been watching past seasons on DVD. Can't stop with just one episode.

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Postby glorybee » Thu May 07, 2009 2:04 pm

May I recommend Lost? Also very suspenseful...I'm totally hooked.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby srashmi » Thu May 07, 2009 10:51 pm

glorybee wrote:May I recommend Lost? Also very suspenseful...I'm totally hooked.


I tried watching Lost when it first came out. It was too weird for me. Polar bears and other strange things. If I don't "get" something, I lose interest.

If you can convince me, maybe I'll rent it this summer.

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Postby glorybee » Fri May 08, 2009 7:23 am

Oh goodness, Seema, if the polar bears were too weird for you, you'd better not watch. Those bears just barely scratch the surface of "Lost" weirdness.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby swfdoc1 » Mon May 18, 2009 9:36 am

DK Rudd wrote:Steve, that book sounds like one I want to read! Where do I get my hands on that?


You may get your chance to read it. I just returned from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference with good news. Two publishers and one agent want proposals for the novel. As I have explored what it takes to get published with a traditional publishing house (in America; don’t know about other countries represented in FW), I have discovered that many (most?) CBA houses will no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts or even queries or proposals. Pretty much the only way to get a manuscript looked at is to find a <I>reputable</I> agent to put a proposal in front of an editor for you or go to a conference and get an appointment with an editor to do a 15 min. pitch to see whether they will accept a proposal. Of course to get a reputable agent, you have to jump through their hoops and be accepted, too.

So I was excited to get requests for proposals from WaterBrook Multnomah (owned by Random House) and Bethany House (neither of whom accept manuscripts or queries other than as described above). WaterBrook sent a senior editor and she was not even taking appointments except on an invitation only basis. I’ll skip the long story of what I had to do to get an invitation.

Now I know that being asked for proposals is a long way from getting a contract, but I thought the results were better than 1) sending out cold query letters to those houses that still accept them (if there are any), 2) pitching and everyone saying "no thanks," 3) sending cold query letters to agents, or 4) a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

PLUS, we were told an amazing statistic at the Conference: 80% of the people who are told they can send a proposal never do! I will definitely send one because 1) the novel is already done, 2) two versions of the proposal are already done (6 pages and 19 pages), one of which has already been critiqued, 3) I asked the publishers and agent individually which parts they wanted included in the proposal I will send them, and 4) I do not have to revise the entire novel before sending since each wants only the first 3 chapters (and I can handle that in a timely manner).

The only publisher I pitched the novel to that did not want a proposal was Harvest House. The editor thought the pitch/novel was good, but it was too _____ for his house. I’m kicking myself that I can’t remember exactly what word goes in the blank. Something like unusual, avant garde, experimental (but it wasn’t any of those words).

So I asked him to read the opening of the novel on which I had received some negative criticism both before the Conference and in a paid critique at the Conference. (I didn't hide this from any of the editors I pitched to; they want to know this sort of stuff. Fortunately there was lots of good stuff in the critique, too.) He said he guessed he was in the minority because the opening worked for him. I asked him would he nonetheless read the revised opening (VERY different) that I had banged out over night. He said, in effect, “You’re right; this is even better.” I guess my basic writing and/or my ability to respond to feedback made a good impression: As an afterthought, I told him I run a Christian public interest law firm that works on “culture war” issues, and I asked whether Harvest House publishes non-fiction on those issues. He said—and this is pretty close to a word-for-word quote—“I’d be glad to receive a proposal on something like that from you. Or 2 or 3 or 4.” And Harvest House is another publisher that won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, proposals, or queries.

So I’m praising the Lord. Prayers would be greatly appreciated.
Steve
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby glorybee » Mon May 18, 2009 9:47 am

Wonderful news, Steve! Keep us posted!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby anna banana » Mon May 18, 2009 2:47 pm

Congratulations, Steve! That sounds great! And thanks for the juicy news there....it's interesting to see what one would have to do if one (like me) ever finishes the novel-in-progress. :D
In order to clarify: Rachel Rudd

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Going to give it a try....

Postby Toni Star » Sat Jul 04, 2009 4:40 pm

Not sure if it's alright to write a bit here, but the subject matter was so interesting, I couldn't resist....

I found the subject of conflict and suspense a very interesting one, so I'd like to give it a try. In the book I'm currently writing, my character immediately reveals a conflict and this conflict comes from inside and doesn't let up until something awful happens...

While reading Jan's intro on conflict I can see where I may be giving away too much of what is coming and this will help me to revise several parts of the book, for I need and want more suspense.

For instance, in one part of the book I write that the main character is getting ready to posion another; when actually, what I need to do is not reveal that--but to show what happens by the actions that follow.

Going to read more on suspense and conflict, and see how I can put in more substance in my book but with more action and less telling....
Toni Star, freelance writer/editor and graduate student

"Never give up, for there is always an answer for everyone who seeks, knocks or asks."

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Postby glorybee » Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:11 pm

Toni, thanks for this insight into your writing process! I'd love to read a bit of what you've got. I'm also hoping that you'll be writing for the Writing Challenge--new voices are always very welcome here!
Jan Ackerson

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Much appreciated!

Postby Toni Star » Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:07 pm

Hi Jan,

Am enjoying your site and learning a great deal. Will share with you some of my writing, soon.

And, thank you so much for your kind invite on the Faithwriter's Challenge! I used to write each week but got busy with my book and other online pursuits but will try and get back into it--hopefully this week.

Faithwriter's is a great writing tool and it feels wonderful 'being back again...'
Toni Star, freelance writer/editor and graduate student

"Never give up, for there is always an answer for everyone who seeks, knocks or asks."

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