The biggest piece of advice I have for new authors is to do your homework, that is, learn the craft by studying it first. Find books on the profession; there are many to choose from. Also, go to classes held by the pros. For example, I went to one held by David Hagberg, a bestselling author, who scrawled this note on a first chapter I handed in: “Your scene-setting sucks.” After this, I decided to take a Writer’s Digest 6-month correspondence course, which included a mentor review of my draft outline and chapters into Shadow of Guilt with suggested revisions. Two years later Hagberg sent me this note about Shadow of Guilt: “Wow, have you come a long way.” And a review: “An intriguing premise, tight plotting, and well-defined characters who the reader cares about.” Not bad. Read, read, study, study, and go to writers’ conferences to listen to successful authors and meet editors and agents, learning what their interests are.
Tag Archives: Suspense
On a night he could’ve been home and protected his family, prominent PR man Chip Keller (I’m a PR guy – you write about what you know!) finds himself alone in his office with his secretary after a fundraising event, a beautiful secretary, who, under the influence, attempts to seduce Chip, who nearly succumbs but he surprises us with how he deals with the temptation.
Unknown to him an arsonist out for revenge does the deed behind Chip’s home (Do not want to tell you too much of the story, rather you buy the book and enjoy the suspenseful actions and events). Chip arrives after the arsonist’s revenge. Now what? Will he overcome his guilt? I leave that surprise to you. And will he help a woman who also is drowning in guilt? And if he does, will he rescue her?
Among my favorite suspense novels, Lie Down With Lions, by Ken Follett (a favorite author) has to rank at or close to the top. It’s a romantic triangle about two men on opposite sides of the Cold War and the woman they both love, who is torn between them. This novel has a fundamental basis for suspense. How will the passion of characters and the deception inherent in war play out? Who will win over Jane, who loves both men? How about the Cold War? Where is that going? It’s one of Ken Follett’s best novels.
Then there is the classic, And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. We have ten strangers lured to an isolated island mansion. At dinner, a recorded message accuses each of them of having a guilty secret. The prose also helps send a message to the reader, namely, that each of these ten is vulnerable. Their vulnerability is even more apparent as they begin to die. The captivated reader wants to know how this is all going to turn out. Thus the suspense as the characters go down, one by one.