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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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Chely
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Postby Chely » Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:42 pm

glorybee wrote:Chely.

I know this was not your intention, but do you realize that you've just made me feel very...very...old.

That fact that YOUR favorite book was my DAUGHTERS' favorite book...

I'm going to go rub some liniment on my arthritic hip.

Naw..not old.

Jan, Sesame Street and wine; they only improve with time.

BTW, I hear Enbrel infusions work wonders for arthritis...

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Postby Symphonic » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:18 pm

glorybee wrote:Carol, you should feel free to ramble at any time--you're one of my most valued contributors!

I love the epilog, and it really makes me want to read the book. Is it available?


Thanks so much, Jan, for the license to ramble! It's great to be able to discuss these topics!

I've never tried to publish my novels... but if you had the time and wanted to read one of them, I would be honored.

Carol S.

P.S. I'll have to look for the Sesame Street book at the library. It sounds like something that my little boy would enjoy!
Carol S.

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glorybee
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Postby glorybee » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:30 pm

Carol, the Grover book is a Little Golden Book--not sure it would be at libraries--but it's worth a try!

I was serious about wanting to read your book--maybe during spring break? If I PM you my address, is there a hardcopy you could mail me (I'd pay you, of course). Or is it in another form, perhaps a Word doc?
Jan Ackerson

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Another thought

Postby anna banana » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:13 am

Thanks for the laughs I've had by reading these posts. Lots of fun.

I've been thinking about one of my favorite authors who is a master of suspense. Ted Dekker can make me stay up until 2 am just to find out the ending (otherwise I might not have the best of dreams :) ). His book Three also totally blew me away in the end, but that of course was surprise, not suspense. But he did use suspense to get me to the end!
In order to clarify: Rachel Rudd

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Postby kit10 » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:21 am

Here's a challenge piece I tried to use suspense in.

http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=16194

It opens with a hand pulling a trigger, so the reader knows that it is a dramatic and stressful experience to begin with.

I used short, snappy sentences to determine the pace. I captured the sounds and smells of this distressing situation in my disoriented narrator's thoughts.

I tried to keep the reader interested to find out what would happen next, by having my narrator speculate about what would become of her.

I enjoyed writing this piece, though it was sad to think that this sort of thing really does happen.
Christine

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship. ~ Louisa May Alcott

I avoid looking forward or backward and try to keep looking upward. ~ Charlotte Bronte

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Postby glorybee » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:20 am

Rachel, I've heard a lot about Ted Dekker, but I've never read anything by him. From everything I've heard, though, he's certainly a master of suspense!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:22 am

Kit, that piece is definitely edge-of-the-seat suspense!

Thanks for taking us through your writing process, especially your comments about the deliberate pacing. Very useful information from an excellent writer!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby GShuler » Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:43 pm

Jan, would it be too much of a generalization to say that one difference between surprize and suspense is that surprize is often led up to by suspense? Even when the mass murderer or pathalogical preditor is about to appear, the sound track turns to "watch out" mode and the camera angles turn to "is he there" mode. And usually, right when we expect the killer to pop out, we get the surprize that it was only a cat in the bushes. But.... it COULD have been the killer!

Right?
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby glorybee » Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:01 pm

Absolutely, Gerald! The two often go hand in hand, just as you've said. Thanks for the clarification!
Jan Ackerson

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Suspense

Postby Colswann1 » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:02 am

Hi Jan

I used suspense in one of my pieces to show how a young man, who had stumbled over a personal message from the Bible code, was instructed to set off into the unknown to rescue a fallen damsel - I think it worked.

Jan are you sure it maybe a boy or a girl - it could be boys or girls, or, boy and girl, or, girl and boys, or, boy and girls - times once, twice, or, even three times+. Even scans can be wrong!

Whatever, you're going to have your hands full as a Gran!

ps You may catch me up one day I have ten.
Colin Swann

Jesus’ love is constant and never wavers.

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Postby glorybee » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:43 am

Colin, can we have a link to your Bible code story?

As for my grandchild-to-be--they've had one scan, and it's just one little baby in there...they were actually hoping for twins, but no such luck.
Jan Ackerson

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suspense

Postby Colswann1 » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:50 am

Thanks for taking a look at this Jan.

http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=16155

Colin
Colin Swann

Jesus’ love is constant and never wavers.

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Postby Soren2007 » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:04 pm

Great lesson. I just want to point out how important it is for the MC to have flaws. I think this is really important to point out for Christian writers. There is at times an attempt to make our MC's too good and to set them in conflict against the really bad, but doing this never really creates suspense for me as a reader. Yes, the good guy is supposed to win, but make it really difficult for them, make them fall down, make them not win all the way, make them...just not be so perfect or I'll want them to actually lose. Does that make any sense? (And I think this about characters I've created too.)

As for the challenging question:
1. Lord of the Rings - (film) Will Frodo ever wipe that look from his face? :D
2. Charlotte’s Web - Will bacon and ham ever be made from some, T-E-doubleR-I-doubleF-I-C pig? (sorry if I messed up the quote)
3. LOST (the television show…pick any episode) - Will Jack continue to remind me of Frodo more and more as the seasons progress? When will all the "cursed numbers" be explained in full? What year is this? Did Ben just kill Penny or Desmond? Is Penny really Annie? (have to stop myself)
4. Noah’s Ark - Will the people repent and change God's mind? He wouldn't really do that, would he?
5. Toy Story - Will Buzz get over his Pinocchio complex? the Theology of Toy Story: It is better to be a toy in the hands of your owner than a real space ranger without an owner. hmmmm
6. You’ve Got Mail - When will he tell her his handle?
“Get to work. Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.” ~Dillard.

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Postby Allison » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:24 pm

I know I've mentioned this movie before, but one of my favorite examples of suspense in film is Apollo 13. I don't care how many times I watch it, and I don't care that I KNOW the ending. The re-entry sequence in that movie is... well.... astounding, really, and it gets my heart pumping every single time.

Here's a thought I just had... Is suspsnese more effective when the outcome is good? Going back to Apollo 13... if they hadn't survived, or of there was a movie about the Colombia or Challenger disasters, would they be as suspenseful? I don't think they would, and I think it's because we expect a happy resolution at the end of suspense. Am I completely off base, or is there some validity to this thought?
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Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)

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Postby anna banana » Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:31 pm

Here's a thought I just had... Is suspsnese more effective when the outcome is good? Going back to Apollo 13... if they hadn't survived, or of there was a movie about the Colombia or Challenger disasters, would they be as suspenseful? I don't think they would, and I think it's because we expect a happy resolution at the end of suspense. Am I completely off base, or is there some validity to this thought?


I think that depends on whether you know the outcome or not. Have you seen the movie Arlington Road? The first time I saw it I as stunned at the end but the suspense had still held my attention. Now I know what's going to happen so it is not as interesting, but I still think it's suspenseful. (Yes, it does end badly.)
In order to clarify: Rachel Rudd

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