If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews

10/07 M.E. Browning, Shadow Ridge

10/14 Alexia Gordon

10/21 Adam Meyer

10/28 Barbara Ross, Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door


October Guest Bloggers


10/03 Kathleen Kalb

10/17 S. Lee Manning

10/31 Sharon Dean


WWK Weekend Bloggers


10/10 Jennifer J. Chow

10/24 Kait Carson













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For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.


Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!


KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!


Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!


Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.


KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.


Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Suspense

Recently, well, truthfully at least two years ago, a critic of my writing said she didn’t like all the unanswered questions in the first five pages of one of my WIPs. She was into immediate gratification and couldn’t wait for the answers. The critic isn’t a literary expert, a published writer, or an agent but I still ponder her comments. That french_fries_clip_art_13424shows how seriously writers think about critiques of their work, or at least how long this writer thinks about the meaning of a particular critique.

Much advertising and parts of the economy rely on a person’s need for immediate gratification. Is that relevant for fiction? A short story starts with a problem and the implicit promise that the problem will be solved by the time the story ends. Perhaps the critic I mentioned would be happier with flash fiction in which suspense lasts two to four hundred words.

I can’t imagine continuing to read a novel-length piece of fiction if I didn’t have unanswered questions established at the start of the story. For instance, in Rosemary Harris’s Pushing Up Daisies, the protagonist finds a buried, shrunken head on page one. Whose head is it? Why is it there?

In Hank Phillip Ryan’s Face Time, the reader learns quickly that the protagonist is an award-winning investigative reporter. By the sixth page of the story, her TV station urgently needs her to report live on the eleven o’clock news. What does the station want her to report on? Why is it so newsworthy?

In Roberta Isleib’s Asking for Murder, the protagonist’s friend doesn’t show up for a lunch date. The friend doesn’t answer her doorbell or phone. There’s a lack of security at the friend’s office and she keeps the key to her bungalow under a flower pot. What has happened to this friend? What is the protagonist going to do about it?

In Nancy Pickard’s The Virgin of Small Plains, by page thirty-two, the reader wonders what happened to Abby Reynolds in 2004 when her truck crashed in a blizzard. What has happened to the sixty-three year old woman with Alzheimer’s disease who is dancing in a cemetery and dressed only in a red bathrobe in the same blizzard? Also, who was raped and murdered in a blizzard in 1987? Why did Abby’s father smash the dead woman’s face beyond recognition?

Unanswered questions and suspense are the reasons I keep reading fiction. Sure, the characters have to interest me but my friends and co-workers interest me. I don’t need them to be involved in a suspenseful murder mystery. I look for that in fiction.

So, I return to pondering the words of my critic. She had no further criticism beyond that of my failure to provide immediate gratification. She praised some of my writing. I believe I still had much work to do on the opening of that particular WIP. Could she have responded unconsciously to those problems with the immediate gratification criticism? It seemed such a strange objection. If my critic is serious about wanting immediate gratification in fiction, I think she’d find it more quickly in flash fiction.

3 comments:

Kara Cerise said...

I can't imagine reading a novel if there weren't unanswered questions either. Part of the fun of a mystery is puzzling out whodunnit.

Warren Bull said...

Even in non-suspense and non-mystery novels, if you have no questions, you have no reason to keep reading.

E. B. Davis said...

Don't feel bad, Pauline. I once had a reviewer tell me to get rid of all that extraneous detail. As an mystery reader knows, that's where the clues are. Duh!