Shoot Him Later — Rule #31 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever


I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #31

31: Spot the moment of maximum tension and hold it for as long as possible. Or as John D. MacDonald put it: “Freeze the action and shoot him later.”

Love this train of thought.  This goes along with torturing your character.  Don’t only torture your character!

Torture them longer!

I have this theme/problem in my current work.  It is high paced, and I don’t want to slow it too much, but there is this one scene that I want to hesitate on to really drag in the emotional impact.  While it doesn’t take that long, I want to really dig in to what the character feels and goes through.  This is all about building tension. And nothing makes me turn a page more than wondering what the heck will happen.



5 responses to “Shoot Him Later — Rule #31 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

  1. I’m thinking cliff-hanger, much like what Dave said, to prolong the story tension & keep the reader reading. 🙂

  2. Ah, fire and ice…without ticking off the reader.
    Sometimes, I have been ticked off when tension climbs and climbs, then loses the mark. Err.

  3. One technique I have found helps with this is to use meta-time to extend events without using longer description. For example, many readers with limited time will choose a chapter end to stop, so split tense scenes across chapter breaks to add the time the reader is not actually reading the book to the time it takes in the book; or switch to a parallel narrative.

  4. It’s all about the timing.
    … must go feed fishies now …