By Claire Booth
I spent yesterday morning watching a virtual event on thriller writing that featured Laurie R. King and Meg Gardiner. Calling them masters of the craft is a definite understatement. They talked about many different aspects, but I want to highlight one in particular.
Suspense and tension.
I’d never really given any thought to the specificity of these two things in relation to writing something that needs to keep propelling the reader forward. Not surprisingly, Meg Gardiner has. Suspense, she says, is something you need throughout the entire work.
Tension needs to be meted out in doses. These are the moments of adrenaline, the turning points in the book. You can’t have constant tension; readers need excitement and then relief. But you do need constant suspense—what happens next and why does it matter so much?
For me, this was a wonderful, very concrete labels for the exact kind of book I’m working on right now.
If you’re interested in hearing more straight from these two fantastic
authors, the event can be found through the San Diego Writers Festival. And if you'd like more from each of them, along with many other writers, their essays on craft can be found in this year's How to Write A Mystery.