I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend and co-author on Prose & Cons, Joe Clifford. After you read this interview I’m sure you will agree there aren’t many authors who would have answered my tough questions with such honesty. Joe is a rare person. He’s talented, humble, funny, an all-around nice guy. But don’t tell him I told you, he has a rep to uphold.
I’m taking a masters class through Writers Village and I thought I’d share with you the “secret formula” to your opening lines.
It’s called the Hologram test. What is the Hologram test? It’s a golden rule that the first 100 words of your novel be a hologram, a teasing but true sample of the wares to come.
So how can you make sure your story passes this all-important test and wins the hearts of readers?
Here are 3 simple ways:
The serial killer has become wildly popular in crime fiction. Maybe they are so fascinating to us, as readers, because they are complicated creatures. They are deliciously bad. We, as writers, are told never to make our antagonist (bad guy) all bad, or our protagonist all good.
Dr. Hannibal Lector is a perfect example of this. Especially the one depicted in the television series, Hannibal.
Dr. Hannibal Lector– played by Mads Mikkelsen– is a brilliant forensic psychologist and culinarian (although some of the ingredients in his dishes are questionable). In one scene we see his soft side with Dr. Alana Bloom, and in the next, he is slaughtering people and arranging them in dramatic convoluted poses. Far beyond what is necessary to end their life. He’s an artist when it comes to designing a shocking display for the FBI. Yet, part of me loves him! Why? Because nothing is black and white with him. He’s justified in his actions, which makes him a perfect character. However, in the real world the serial killer is a frightening creature. And one I never want to come in contact with in a dark alley.
I just completed the first draft of my latest novel, the sequel to Timber Point. The working title was Dancing In The Shadows. However, after completing the novel I thought of a title that fits better: Silent Betrayal.
I often post about what stage I’m at in the process. Therefore, today’s post is about creating tension and suspense in your thriller. (Or in my case, make sure it’s done correctly during editing.) Keep readers on the edge of their seat, flipping the pages.
I came across an article about this topic. If you haven’t read The Kill Zone blog, I highly recommend it. These tips were posted in that blog, but I added my own flair to them. The expository is mine to help you better understand.
1. Condense your setup and backstory.
Nothing is worse than reading ten pages about nothing. All fluff. Or hearing about the protagonist’s entire life story. The author should know the story, but your reader doesn’t need every small detail. However, IF parts of the backstory is relevant to the story line– keep it. Just make it as short as possible. Give the crucial elements your reader NEEDS to know without the fluff. Add emotions, yes, but don’t let it lag along for pages and pages.
For those of you who have followed this blog, you know I am a member of Prose & Cons.
For those of you who are new to this community: Prose & Cons is a multi-author blog, aka the gang of twenty-one. We blog about books, the people who read them, write them, and everything in between.
A couple of weeks ago I posted the first half of my short story, Out of the Darkness, on Prose & Cons and re-posted it here. Tomorrow is part two. I will again re-post here for those of you who aren’t following this amazing authors blog. For those of you who would like to check out Prose & Cons the address is: http://www.auniqueandportablemagic.blogspot.com.
Hope to see you all there!
If not, I will see you here for part two of Out of the Darkness.