I’ve been a little stuck with my writing this week, the writing has not been flowing at all like it was last month. Not only has life and other things gotten in the way of my writing, but also I had this feeling that something wasn’t quite right in the most recent parts of Thomas and Rose’s story. In the early hours of this morning I realised the mistake I had made: I didn’t hold back.
I let go of a major plot twist way too soon, completely removing the suspense I wanted to build. You see, I am pretty new at this novel writing thing, I usually write short stories or children’s books, but never with the intent to publish and I am simply learning as I go. I couldn’t figure out how Rose would react to such a revelation or how the audience would react as well, even though I have never really considered audience reaction to my writing until that point.
This is what I’ve figured out:
Even though we often hear the phrase, “Don’t hold back”, for the purpose of suspense and character and plot development, sometimes it helps to hold back a bit. If you give all the answers and insight too early on, it creates more of a recount rather than a well told story. Most writers have probably already figured this out, but like I said, I’m learning as I go.
When rereading the most recent parts I had written, in an attempt to get the writing flowing again, I began to think about some of my favourite authors and the feeling of not being able to wait to get to the next page and the page after that, almost speed reading in order to find out what happens next. I wondered exactly what it was that kept me turning page after page -it was suspense, knowing enough to know that something was going on but not enough to know exactly what it was. Even if a novel was not described in this way, all good stories have a certain level of suspense. Thankfully it didn’t take me long to figure it out.
When reading a well written story, it is almost like you are trying to solve a puzzle and piece by piece you are putting it together. The words on the pages are the pieces of the puzzle and the puzzle to be solved is in the development of the plot and the characters, eventually leading to solving that puzzle completely by the time you get to the end of the story (and not before).
Now when it comes to writing, you need to keep this in mind, you don’t want to give your audience all of the puzzle pieces, numbered and with a set of instructions of how to piece them together. To keep the interest of your audience you need to drop one piece of the puzzle at a time, always keeping a few in your pocket to drop along the way. You need to find a balance though, drop too many pieces and you will give too much away too quickly, leaving nothing for the ending, but drop too few and you risk the story becoming dull, boring or uneventful, losing your audience either way.
I’ve known the basic plot from the moment I began Thomas and Rose’s story, I’ve even known some of the plot twists (with others added as I write), however trying to figure out where each of these should be placed in the timeline of the novel is something I am figuring out as I go along.
I always have a basic plot outline, but I like to leave some things to be decided while I write.
J. K. Rowling
Now I am heading off to delete a significant chunk of writing (not completely though, I’ll save it for later on) and rewrite that section, holding back a little and saving a few pieces of the puzzle for later.
So, for the purpose of creating suspense HOLD BACK, at least a little.
© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.