Friday, April 20, 2007

Over a Barrel...

...or in one.

View of the Western Branch of the Falls of Niagara...
John Vander Lyn, 1803.
Oil on canvas.
Codman Collection.

Over a barrel.

A familiar idiom for suspense.

All the associated synonyms: uncertainty, anticipation, apprehension, tension, simplify to this: the reader wants to know what happens next.

Much emphatic advice stresses conflict: spiritual, moral or physical dilemmas. Choices.

We often read in queries, the cliche phrase forced to choose.

Conflict, however, is merely a contributing technique - though usually a sure one - in the creation of reader curiousity.

Sometimes suspense may evolve around who, or what, how, or why. In questions raised and answers delayed.

Some of you who have followed the brief sketches from A Malignity of Ghosts have expressed such curiousity, a desire to read more, to know what happens next.

So I'm curious.

Would you indulge me in identifying just what in particular, if anything, triggered your interest?

BTW: Fangs, Fur and Fey are critiquing queries. Really excellent, clear and objective assessments - though I did quietly tsk-tsk when one didn't recognize a Wild Hunt reference.


kmfrontain said...

First of all, the subject is interesting, and second, the plot flows nicely, so the interest doesn't flag, and third, I like the wry voice of the character.

Bailey Stewart said...

It's the voice, draws the reader in. I love the sense of humor. You have a way with the turn of a phrase that has me saying often "oh yes, that's it exactly". And I love the subject - I have a softness for ghost stories.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Karen and Bailey. I am immensely flattered.
Karen, your curosity evolves more on How events may be described?
And in addition, Bailey, you feel anticipation about possible identification?

kmfrontain said...

It's a combination of things that keeps me interested, but yes, how the events are related is one factor. I avoid using the word describe there, because description is only one aspect of relating a story.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Anything and everything about the woman in the greeen track suit..and why contrary to popular belief her ears weren't pointed???? I don't usually think about people maybe having pointed ears....and I certainly never nonchalantly carry on conversations with people washing clothes covered in blood....LOL....

Details...more details!!!!!

Bernita said...

So, no individual plot point or raised question leads you on, Karen, rather the combination.

Bonnie, she's a banshee, a death omen.

Carla said...

Two things in my case: (a) I like the dry humour; and (b) there's a certain puzzle-like quality about recognising the mythological/folklore references.
My 2d.

raine said...

Initially, of course, it was the rather casual way the heroine dealt with the appearance of a zombie.
This was an interesting woman!

And, as already stated, the dry wit of the author kept me hooked, and the flow of the storyline kept me reading.

Bernita said...

Carla, your thoughts are always worth MUCH more than that.
Thank you. Wasn't sure the humour came through.
HOW the figures figure then.Novel deviations.

Thank you, Raine.
Character style/approach to a problem.

Your answers are very interesting - and suggest, by one possible interpretation, that plot twists, by themselves, are not the only path to creating suspense.

Carla said...

"plot twists, by themselves, are not the only path to creating suspense."
I agree there. If they were, I'd probably read a lot more airport thrillers than I do :-)

Erik Ivan James said...

The voice, and the humor in that voice.

Bernita said...

I agree.
Hanging from a cliff is hard on the fingers, Carla.

Thank you, Erik.
Thought you might pick up on the "unreliable narrator" question!

writtenwyrdd said...

IT's an interesting world, and I am curious what you'll do with it. That's my primary interest out of reading the snippets. However, in general, I get hooked on teh character and the dilemma. I see that there is an increase in paranormal activity and that the folks are struggling to deal with it. I want to know why. And, did she kill her husband the FIRST time?

Bernita said...

Thank you, Written.
The society has to deal with a number of issues, including a group who wants all spirits exorcised and one that considers ghosts merely disincarnate intelligences and considers exorcism a genocide.

The bugger just won't stay dead, you know.

Robyn said...

It's your hunka-hunka detective.

I'm so shallow.

Bernita said...

SURE you are, Robyn.
That's why I like you so much.

Sam said...

It's a fun subject, unusual, and you write really well, so I, for one, am hooked!

Bernita said...

Sam, thank you.
Here I thought it might be isolated sentences raising questions that might intrigue, for the most part.

December Quinn said...

Voice crisp and highly appealing. World interesting. Beginnings of an intriguing mystery/suspense-y setup. Heroine amusing.

Bernita said...

Thank you, December.
Again it seems it's generally the whole package rather than an individual hook.

Donnetta Lee said...

For me, it just boils down to your beautiful, flowing language. And I love stories about ghosts and spirits and dreamworlds. There is a romantic, magical quality about your writing. Well, I'm having a tough time putting it into words myself. You draw an easy picture for the reader to fall into.

Jaye Wells said...

I think you've got an interesting combination of paranormal elements and I want to see what you'll do with them.

Bernita said...

I think I may have framed my question the wrong way - I wasn't looking for compliments, but for clues.
Donnetta, thank you for those kind words.

In effect, the "How" of the scenario, Jaye. Thank you.
Encourages me to think I'm doing the right thing in dribbling in details.