Day 156 – Using humor in suspense/thriller fiction

Day one hundred fifty-six of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,100

I started Chapter 18 tonight, and although there have been some lighter moments scattered here and there in the previous seventeen chapters, for the most part the story is serious. It is, after all, turning out to be a suspense/thriller novel (I’m not even sure how to classify it yet). Despite this, tonight I ended up writing a couple of lighter moments with some humor mixed in.

A few questions come to mind as a result: 1) Is it appropriate to include some humor in consideration of the serious tone of the rest of the book? 2) Will the reader get stuck on this change and think it odd? 3) If it is okay to use some humor in this type of book, how is it best received? In small doses? In obvious ways, or more subtle ones? 4) What are the risks involved in attempting to transition between these two very different tones, and how does one reduce or prevent those risks?

The answers to these questions may be more obvious to me when I read the first draft. But of course, any input from you seasoned writers is always appreciated.

Day 142 – Getting what you want out of the story

Day one hundred forty-two of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,300

So. Much. Fun. I started Chapter Seventeen tonight after ending Chapter Sixteen in suspense last night. I thought about it often today, my fingertips itching in anticipation. With the kids in bed and husband home after working late, I finally got into it after a long day and it was hugely satisfying. Even more satisfying was getting what I wanted out of the story.

I’ve mentioned quite a few times lately that I’m nearing the end of this book. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the plot is circling back and characters are being reunited just before the end of a long struggle through dangerous adventures. Writing that moment – when two main characters finally reach each other after being separated and unable to find each other for an agonizing period of time – was like having dessert. I couldn’t wait for them to be together again. They couldn’t wait to be together again. And when they finally were, it was…pretty awesome. I’m so jazzed about it I have to share a little snippet – pardon the raw, unedited feel of it:

“Skylar!” Thomas immediately took off at a run toward her. With awareness in the moment that felt more out-of-body than the wildly visceral experience it actually was, Skylar stumbled toward him through the deep snow like a weak-kneed drunk. Never so happy or relieved in her life, she felt like she needed to vomit or cry, or maybe both, as they reached each other and embraced with a driving force that would have dented a Buick.

Ahh. Now that is getting what I wanted. And the story still has more satisfying moments to come.

Day 141 – Ending a chapter in suspense

Day one hundred forty-one of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,100

I ended Chapter Sixteen on a suspenseful note tonight, which leaves me excited to write the beginning of Chapter Seventeen tomorrow. I can’t help but wonder and hope…if while I am writing I feel the suspense and can’t wait to turn the page to continue writing, will readers experience those same feelings?

It is hard to know while in the midst of writing how a reader will feel about a scene. Everyone perceives descriptions differently. Everyone experiences different feelings from the words they read. But suspense? I tend to think that everyone perceives suspense equally.

When a scene is deliberately written to offer the reader some insight into what is coming next and the scene ends before what’s next actually comes, the reader can feel the suspense. That’s what I would like to think, anyway. True or not, I leave for bed happy and charged for writing tomorrow. And that is a good feeling I haven’t had in a while. Thank you, suspense.