Conversations: 10/14/2016


Strengthens The TAPESTRY


To draw more fans to your club add threads of suspense to your novel and then blend with intrigue. Most of us who love Suspense/Intrigue genre of novels have read the books of John Grisham. Many of them have been made into movies and, for the most part, they remain close to the original plot and characters of his books. However, the real fun comes when I allow my imagination entrance into one of his novels as my heart beats to the rhythm of the detailed events he portrays.

From my years of creative writing perspective, here are some of the elements that weave suspense and intrigue together.  Much of it finds foundation upon the plot diagram one of my early elementary school teachers drew on the chalkboard. For the novel writer, these plot-points are repeated multiple times throughout the story and, as more suspense/intrigue is introduced, the points crisscross at very strategic places.

plot diagram

Intriguing/interesting character development: There are almost as many methods of doing this as there are authors of novels. Before you do a google search and follow the 5-7-12 steps in someone else’s process, jot down your own ideas about WHO this person is—inside and out. My favorite thing to do is close my eyes and imagine this character acting out one of the scenes I’ve placed in the outline (plot). As that image develops, and I begin to see the character, I stop and do an online search for actors that fit that image. Then I build my inside-out scenario of this person’s character traits keeping focused on making her/him as unique as I can: unique name and/or nickname; exceptional skills and/or knowledge; extraordinary strength or weakness; distinctive physical characteristics; etc. A quote from author Don DeLillo—that gives the Reader multi-level insight into one of his characters—is this: “He speaks in your voice, American, and there’s a shine in his eyes that halfway hopeful.”

PLOT the Plot: I’m one of those writers who likes to know a LOT about my characters before I work too hard in developing a novel outline—or plot—for the story they’ll be living.  However, it really doesn’t matter whether you’ve created your plot first, after or during the character development process. It is always good to RE-think the plot from this one main perspective: HOW MUCH RISK is each character taking as the story evolves. At every point on your plot/graph where a conflict occurs (whether between characters, within a character’s thoughts, or from outside sources) they must make a choice—how much of themselves are they willing to risk. THIS IS WHERE THE SUSPENSE BUILDS. Their resistance in making the choice that most Readers will want them to make will keep your Readers turning the pages. Some of these choices may be major life-changing events. Some choices may effect and affect many others with little consequence to the one making the decision. Continuing this process increases the Suspense and engages your Readers as they consider what they would do—what logical choices they would make—if faced with these circumstances.

Are you feeling the excitement of writing in this genre? Imagine that Plot Diagram (above) also being used to develop each of your characters. Imagine the point(s) when a circumstance seems to be resolved for them—then suddenly they fall apart leaving your characters with a whole new set of choices to make. IMAGINE!  Keep imagining! Before you know it your novel will become reality and you’ll be ready to PUBLISH! ⚓︎


ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.


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