Happy Thursday All,
Before I get started, you all might want to check out this explanation of High Concept done by Josin on her blog--I thought it was excellent.
Okay back to our regularly scheduled blog post...
What makes a killer scene? Is it the emotions behind it? Not knowing what's going to happen next? The surprise plot twist? Perhaps all of the above.
Authors are constantly working to put that "certain something" into their books to nail each scene. Whether it's an emotion they didn't know they had, going to a dark place they never wanted to visit, or thinking outside the box. Every author wants their books to be unforgettable in the most positive way and one of those ways is having those scenes that grab hold of the reader and refuse to let go.
An author also works on having scenes a reader will want to read again and again (hopefully read the whole book over and over, too). Scenes that strike a chord with the reader somehow--whether it invokes the happy/satisfied emotion, or sad (some sad books are really good despite not having happy endings).
There's several scenes like that in Lurlene McDaniel's novel, A Rose For Melinda(YA novel). The story centers around a teenage ballerina who faces life and death. The story is told through notes, journal entries and emails and the like. It's sweet and moving.
The author also wants to make their book impossible for the reader to put down. (Yes, that's done on purpose, you weren't imagining things). I don't know how many times I had trouble putting down a book (even though I had to for sake of getting sleep, or taking care of other needs, or family needs). I remember with one book I was thought, "Oh crap, I have to go do thus-and-such thing, and I really don't want to. I want to find out what happens!" It's agonizing. But it's the mark of good storytelling.
All of us writers aspire to write the story where the reader thinks: "I-have-to-put-down-the-book-but-I-don't-want-to". To present that dilemma means you've grabbed hold of your audience and refused to let go.
Here's just two examples of that happening to me (please note, these are not the only authors to have accomplished making it hard for me to put the book down, these are just two examples that I got off the top of my head):
I told Melissa Ohnoutka from page one of Faithful Deceptions until the end, my heart was in my throat (I honestly thought the heroine was going to die and she just couldn't...she had to succeed...she just had to...and I had to know what happened).
I've email corresponded with Nancy Gideon to tell her "You write so tight, I never know what's going to happen next." (I don't know how many times she's hit me between the eyes with something I had not seen coming my direction).
What books have grabbed hold of you and refused to let you go? What was it that made you have to find out what happened next?
Have A Thrilling Thursday!