Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Building Suspense with ACFW!

by Debby Giusti

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure and honor to visit the American Christian Fiction Writers' WORD Chapter in Buford, Georgia. President Lindi Peterson (sitting to my left in the first photo) invited be to present a workshop on Building Suspense in Any Genre. The topic was fun to research and made me realize, yet again, how much I love the suspense genre.

The members were so warm and welcoming, and although I live quite a distance from where they hold their monthly meetings, I wanted to become a part of the group and joined that evening. Diana Shuford (far right in the photo below) and I rode together and hope to return at various times throughout the upcoming year. If you're a writer and live near the Mall of Georgia, check out this wonderful and talented group of writers!

During the program, I discussed a number of ways to build suspense that could easily be adapted to other genres. Suspense relies on tension and conflict, which must be in every book to keep the reader interested and ready to turn the next page.

One of my favorite suspense techniques is giving the reader a superior position. That's when he or she knows something the hero or heroine doesn't. A cop hero may learn the identity of the serial killer, targeting women in his hometown. The reader learns about the killer while in the hero's POV then, in the next scene, becomes totally engaged in the story when the heroine invites the killer, who--unbeknownst to her--is also a plumber, into her home to fix the clogged drain pipe in her laundry room.

Another favorite technique is to end a chapter with a cliffhanger and then reverse the POV in the next scene. The reader has to quickly read through the next scene before learning how the cliffhanger problem is resolved.

James Scott Bell's book, The Art of War for Writers, provided an interesting tip on writing comedy. Bell states, "To write a comedy, make the characters believe they are in a tragedy." He goes on to say the tragedy is trivial because the characters have blown something out of proportion. Often the situation can seem like a life or death issue to the characters, which means the author may often use suspense techniques to build up that trivial tragedy.

The old adage about learning when we teach held true for me last week. I learned a lot about writing in general and especially suspense because of the WORD ACFW Chapter. Thanks to all those who made the evening so enjoyable.

Happy writing! Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti


Trinity Rose said...

Hello Ladies,
I LOVE the Love Inspired Suspense books. I would rather read them than any other books. I was wondering do you have reviewers to read and review your books? I review Christian books and would love to add yours to my blog. Please let me know what you think.
Trinity Rose

wandaelaine at gmail dot com

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Trinity,
You were on Seekerville today! Good seeing you on both blogs. Often with new book releases, Steeple Hill authors send copies out to be reviewed. Keep stopping by and passing the word to the other writers. We love having you visit!

PamelaTracy said...

Great info about the superior position. I'd never really thought about that. If you're ever in the greater Phoenix area, come speak to our CWOW group.

PamelaTracy said...

We're glad you love the LIS books. Debby gave you some excellent advice.