Monday, September 29, 2014
Open Your Book with a BANG
with guest Laura Scott.
Good morning Seekerville! Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and hang out for a while. I hope you're ready to have fun today as we talk about writing good romantic suspense by starting your book with a BANG.
Literally. A Bang! As in guns, bombs, tear gas, bad guys with weapons...you get my drift.
Tina James, my fabulous editor from the Love Inspired Suspense line, has apparently been using my newest book, Down To The Wire (SWAT: Top Cops - Love In The Line of Duty) as an example of how to start off suspense books in a way that sends the hero and heroine right into danger and action. Who knew?
So when Tina Radcliffe graciously offered me a spot here to party and celebrate with all of you, I was honored. And then came the moment of panic when I thought, what am I going to talk about? All of you wonderful readers and writers in Seekerville know everything there is to know about reading and writing good books already, don't you?
Of course you do. You are an amazing and super talented group of people!
But since I'm here, and you're pretty much stuck with me, I figured I'd talk about the one of the few things I supposedly do fairly well. And that is starting my books with danger and action. Immediately pulling the hero and heroine into danger and forcing them to work together to get away safe.
How many times have we heard from readers, "I read the first few pages and lost interest and never picked up the book again."
Too many. We are far from the days of starting our stories with, "It was a dark and stormy night..."
Take a few minutes to think about your suspense plot and your characters. How do your hero and heroine first meet? How can you get them into the heart of danger right away? In my first book in the SWAT series, Wrongly Accused I open the story with my poor hero who was picking up his daughter from her foster mother after being released from jail where he'd been sitting for over a year after being wrongly accused of murdering his wife. All Caleb wants to do is to pick up the pieces of his life and to start over.
But five-year-old Kaitlin is afraid of her father and drops her stuffed giraffe "Griffy" to wrap her arms around Noelle's neck. When Caleb bends down to pick it up, a bullet hits the doorframe where his head had been.
Instantly he barrels into the house, pulling Noelle and Kaitlin with him away from the door and to the back of the house for safety.
This all happens within the first three pages. And from there, Caleb and Noelle are on the run with Caleb's daughter trying to stay one step ahead of the killer.
In Down To The Wire, my second SWAT book, my hero Declan is the SWAT team expert at diffusing bombs. As I thought of ways to start this story, I decided to plant the bomb under the schoolteacher's desk. And Tess, my heroine who is the teacher, is trapped there until Declan can get her free. Declan believes Tess is a personal target and when a second bomb goes off a short time later, the two of them are forced to work together to find the bomber.
Take a few minutes to think about your suspense plot. What is the threat or danger? Is there any way to plug your characters into danger right from the beginning? If so, see if you can find a way to put your character's first meeting right in the center of that danger. Using short sentences can really help set up a fast pace.
In addition to danger, there also has to be tension and conflict between your hero and heroine. That conflict needs to be in the forefront of their minds as they are thrust together by danger. In Wrongly Accused, Noelle doesn't know for sure that Kaitlin's father is truly innocent of the crime he was originally arrested for. But she's also not willing to leave Kaitlin alone with her father, either. Noelle is forced to accept help from one dangerous man to avoid a separate danger. All of this helps grab the reader and bring them along, into the story.
Once you have your dangerous situation figured out, then take a few minutes to think about your characters conflicts. Do they know each other? Or are they complete strangers? Do they trust each other? All of these facets of your characters can help create tension which will again draw the reader into the story.
Starting books isn't easy (although I confess, it's my favorite part). There's always the tendency to set the scene a bit, or to give some history of our characters. Because we know them and love them so well. We've all been told to avoid too much backstory especially in the opening pages. However, we are expected to weave in a bit of the backstory, enough so that the reader knows and understands what's going on. And if you can find a way to create a dangerous situation, right at the beginning of the story while weaving in the core of their conflict, you'll have a winner.
I challenge each of you, okay maybe at least the ones writing suspense, to think of a way to get the hero and heroine together and in danger right from the beginning of the story. It's really not as hard as you might think.
I hope this talk about guns and bombs didn't put anyone off their breakfast, lunch or dinner. As many of you know, I'm a nurse by day and an author by night, so nothing puts me off food for long.
I'm happy to give away two copies of Down To The Wire today. (Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.)
And thanks so much for having me! I've enjoyed being here very much.
LAWMAN TO THE RESCUE
Who placed the bomb under schoolteacher Tess Collins's classroom desk—and why? There's only one man who can save Tess—SWAT cop Declan Shaw. Her survival depends on him defusing the bomb and protecting her from an unknown enemy. He can't afford to be distracted by the alluring beauty who was his onetime high school crush. But keeping her safe soon becomes more than just a job for the highly trained explosives expert. And it'll take all his professional skills to catch the madman targeting Tess before it's too late.
SWAT: TOP COPS—Love in the line of duty
Laura Scott is honored to write for the Love Inspired Suspense line, where a reader can find a heartwarming journey of faith amid the thrilling danger. She lives with her husband of twenty-five years and has two children, a daughter and a son, who are both in college. She works as a critical-care nurse during the day at a large level-one trauma center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and spends her spare time writing romance. Visit Laura at www.laurascottbooks.com.