Monday, April 25, 2011

Ten Tips for Building Suspense in a Novel

What makes you come back to that novel sitting on your bedstand night after night? Is there a powerful reason to keep reading it other than the fact that you paid money for the darn book and you don’t want it to go to waste?

For some readers, it’s curiosity. Once they’ve committed to a novel, they have to know what happens, period. For others, it’s a compelling character that makes them laugh every time he shows up. Or perhaps they have fallen in love with the author’s voice.

For me, it’s the plot. The not knowing what’s going to happen next. But there are two caveats for the story to hold my interest: either the plot has to be somewhat unpredictable or the premise must pose a “big question” that keeps me hooked until the end of the novel.

As writers, we have an arsenal of tools at our disposal to help construct our plots. Perhaps one of our best tools is suspense.


Suspense can be your novel's best friend.


Suspense, the antidote for boredom

Suspense is what will keep your readers guessing and coming back to your book until they reach the end. (And I don’t mean a thriller. Suspense should be found in any genre.) But injecting intrigue in your plot can be tricky. It must be handled with care for too much of it could make the reader confused and frustrated, and too little could bore him to tears. Finding the perfect balance is one of the hardest things we writers have to learn.

A few years ago, I took an excellent writing class called Revising Fiction. The instructor, Kirt Hickman, recommends a series of practical tips for building tension in a novel. I have adapted and condensed the ones I’ve found most helpful.

1. Surprise/mislead the reader.

Who doesn’t love surprises? Especially when we think we know exactly where a story is going. If a character does or says something unexpected, the reader will be shaken (or at the very least awakened from his blissful sleep.) The archetypal shapeshifter works wonderfully for this purpose. Surprises can range from having a character smile at someone before smacking him across the face, to having a trusted friend betray your innocent hero. Surprises can also come in the form of well-guarded secrets exposed at the right time.

2. Have a ruthless/powerful antagonist.

Powerful doesn’t necessarily mean “rich.” It could just be someone who has many advantages over the heroine (beauty, confidence, the love interest’s affection, etc.) Hickman recommends an especially violent character, but I think it really depends on what genre you’re writing. If your book is lighter, a violent character obviously doesn’t belong, but you can still have an antagonist powerful enough to torment the main character (and the reader!)

3. The nightmare comes true.

Though we may feel inclined to protect our characters (they’re our babies, after all), the truth is that when things go too smoothly it can be very boring for the reader. Remember what Leo Tolstoy wrote at the beginning of Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In other words, bad things should happen to your protagonist (whether you like it or not.)

Think of the worst thing that could happen to your main character. Now do it. (This can include taking away the thing that she values the most—be it an object, a loved one, a job, etc.) Think about Scarlett in Gone with the Wind. She loses her parents, her slaves, her money, her childhood crush (Ashley), her daughter and her true love (Rhett).

4. Give your character a phobia/fear to confront.

When a particular phobia or weakness is established early on in the text, it can be a good pay off for the reader when the character is forced to confront it. This could represent (when done right) a great moment of tension in the story. (Just picture your reader with her fingers clutching the pages of your book. Now that’s a beautiful image!)

Think of Alfred Hitchcock’s "Vertigo." The protagonist, Scottie (played by James Stewart), suffers from acrophobia and has to confront it twice to save the woman he loves. He fails the first time but succeeds the second time.

Scottie's fear of heights is tested in "Vertigo" (1958)

The same goes for the protagonist of "Jaws" (Roy Scheider.) The one thing he fears the most is the water. He could have let the marine biologist and the professional shark hunter go after the killer shark attacking the beach-goers in his small shore town, but his strong sense of duty forces him to go with them. In the end, he has to confront both the shark and the ocean after the boat is destroyed.

5. Show the danger is real.

The reader won’t worry too much about your main character if you’re constantly sheltering her from tragedy. In order to warn the reader that bad things may in fact happen to the protagonist, you must show the danger is real and can reach anyone. How do you do this? By hurting your main character or killing someone whom she cares about (as painful as that may be for you, gulp.) This raises the hero’s personal stakes and gives you an opportunity to include an emotional moment in your novel.

6. Never make things easy for your main character.

Have you noticed that us human-types don’t usually appreciate things that are easily attained? (Remember when your mom/grandmother told you to “play hard to get” with that guy you liked? Well, she said it for a reason! It’s human nature to want those things we can’t have.) The same is true for our characters. If their goals come to them effortlessly, they won’t value them as much as if they suffer to get them (neither will your reader.) If readers witness the many obstacles the protagonist must overcome to achieve her goal, they will cheer for her when she succeeds in the end.

7. Include an external circumstance or event beyond the character’s control.

Think about the movie "Titanic." Remember how the imminent sinking of the ship added suspense and tension to an otherwise predictable plot? I watched this movie in the theatre and not a peep was heard during those harsh scenes where masses of characters were dying and there was nothing Rose could do to change her situation.


The environment “turns loose” on Jack and Rose in "Titanic" (1997)

This doesn’t mean that every novel should have a natural disaster. Other external incidents can include wars, epidemics, political factors (ruthless dictators, protests, etc) or economical circumstances (think "The Pursuit of Happyness" or "Angela’s Ashes.")

8. Haunt your character with a past failure.

Characters should have flaws. We all know that. But if you include a past failure, it will add another layer to your story. The character will seem more real if the reader believes that the hero had a past before the novel started. Especially if this bad experience still affects his present decisions and his confidence to succeed in whatever mission he’s now encountering. Insecurities in characters are a good thing because as readers, we want to see them become stronger and grow.

9. Impose a deadline.

Do you hold your breath when you watch your favorite athlete (team, horse, loved one) during a race? Does your pulse quicken? Are you unable or unwilling to take your eyes away from the competition? (Even if you don’t watch any sports, humor me please.) Well, the same thing happens when a beloved character must beat a ticking clock to achieve an objective (especially if the consequences of not making it on time are disastrous.) There doesn’t always have to be a clock (though some novels/films use this element.) What matters is that you create a sense of urgency and transmit it to your reader. If you ever saw the movie "Nick of Time", starring Johnny Depp, you know exactly what I mean. A less literal example is the film "Poseidon". The characters are on a race against time to reach the top (in this case, the bottom) of the ship before it drowns. Many romantic comedies use this device, too. The protagonist must reach the love interest before she marries someone else or gets on a plane that will take her to a faraway land (for good!)



In "Back to the Future" (1985), Marty McFly must make his parents fall in love and then return to the time machine (the DeLorean) before lightning strikes the clock tower. Or else he'll cease to exist.

10. Add a final twist near the end of the novel.

Ideally, endings shouldn’t be predictable. The contradiction is that they shouldn’t be inconsistent with the plot, either. In other words, you shouldn’t write a tragic ending in your romantic comedy only because you don’t want the audience to predict the outcome. What you could do is come up with one surprise or twist for the reader that in retrospect seems inevitable. The reader should finish the book realizing that it couldn’t have ended any other way. An excellent example that Hickman offered in class is the movie "Shrek." We all know that Princess Fiona and Shrek will end up together (inevitable). The twist is that instead of Fiona staying a beautiful princess forever, she turns into an ogre, just like Shrek (surprise.) Upon reflection, we realize that an ogre and a princess wouldn’t have fit well together. Fiona had to become an ogre. Surprising inevitability.

Perhaps this last caveat is what makes endings so difficult. There must be a balance between giving the reader a satisfactory ending, but making it unique enough so that the reader can’t predict every bit of dialogue to the letter.

Use a combination of suspense builders that seem appropriate for your story and genre. Many successful novels and films do. Just take a look at this year’s Oscar-winning film "The King’s Speech" and you’ll find many of them.


King George VI, aka Bertie, must confront his fear of
public speaking in "The King’s Speech" (2010)

What about you: What tools have you found more useful for adding suspense in your novel? Do you have a hard time coming up with a satisfactory ending?

42 comments:

  1. Great post, Lorena! I like to pepper my story with little mysteries concerning the main characters (maybe sometimes I do it too much?). I really like to make the reader think and my goal is to keep a question in his/her head and make them want to come back to the story. I love some of the examples you used, like with "Vertigo" and "Back to the Future." Great examples of how to build tension and suspense in a story!

    Surprisingly enough, I usually know how I want my story to end and it always has a twist that the reader isn't expecting. It's just getting to that point that can be the problem sometimes ; )

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. Why did you have to say that

      Delete
  3. I'm so glad you added examples: it really helps to illustrate the concept. I took Hickman's class, too, but had forgotten about Shrek. I still find it very difficult to come up with "surprising inevitability." Sure, that would be nice, but how the heck do you do it?

    I'm thinking about the last few books I've read that had me flipping pages like mad, and why that was. Although I've been reading classic literature mostly, one of my favorite books of the past year was "The Sky Is Everywhere" by Jandy Nelson. It's new, and it's YA. It's an aftermath story, which is especially tricky for suspense: how do you create suspense when The Terrible Thing has already happened? I found it gripping because I identified so strongly with the character's grief, and wanted to see how she'd handle it. Also, there's a sweet romance sprinkled in there, which always (if well crafted) keeps things trucking along.

    Two classic short stories come to mind when I think "suspense." One is Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been," which everyone should immediately go read. :) It's an incredibly well-constructed story, and quite nerve-wracking. Along those lines, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," by Flannery O'Connor, about a family field trip and a serial killer. Serial killers feature in both, and like Hickman said, that's just an attention getter right there! What's worth noting is how each writer gives hints about the ominous things to come. Little things like the weather, or how someone giggles.

    Endings are tough. Especially tough are happy endings that don't seem trite. It's easy to write a bummer ending.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Stephanie, it's interesting that you wonder where to go when The Terrible Thing has already happened. In Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," the terrible thing has happened, but the story reveals that the most terrible thing for the two main characters to live through is the cannibalism that follows. Their goals are to stay alive and can they really trust anyone they meet. Or will they get eaten! Same goes for a YA book I read last year entitled "Green Witch." The horrible thing happened (i.e. her family died and she has to continue on even if that means she might not eventually survive), but she experienced her first love only to have him disappear on her, as well as her best friend. Her goal becomes finding both and learning the truth about what happened to them after the destruction (she also "finds" herself in the process). I think it just depends on your story and your characters' goals. No matter what happens, what are they chasing after? How will they change because of what has happened to them?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree with all of these things; suspense is about layering with subtlety so that the reader almost doesn't notice you're doing it.

    Another Joyce Carol Oates fan here. She had that subtlety down :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. As much as I'd prefer a book to a movie, I think movies do suspense better as a rule. We need to be so visual in our written descriptions.

    A great post.

    Denise<3

    ReplyDelete
  7. Uugh, I posted a comment and it got eaten! Darn Blogger.

    Mary Mary, I loved The Road. You're right that adding more terrible after The Big Terrible is a great way to create suspense. This means you have to build the skeleton of your plot around the terrible things. If someone doesn't want to write a story about serial killers and cannibalism — where the suspense is built in — then this is trickier. Jandy Nelson's book examines the ripples of a tragedy without adding in any cannibals or serial killers — and still makes keeps the reader turning pages. The precarious psychological state of the protagonist is what creates suspense. It seems silly to compare a new YA author to Cormac McCarthy, but her job is actually harder than his, suspense-wise.

    Lucy, I recently read two Oates novels ("We Were The Mulvaneys" and "The Falls") which were beautifully written but definitely not suspenseful. :) What do you think of her novels vs. stories? She tends to meander (I do, too, but I'm no Oates) and the short story form keeps her focused.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mary Mary - I'm like you, I like to have little mysteries throughout the novel. For me, it was especially difficult to know where and how to pace the clues in my first novel because of the many characters and subplots (which is why I don't write mysteries. They're extremely difficult!)

    I agree with you, Stephanie, it's hard to add suspense when "the terrible thing" has already happened and you're not looking to write a thriller with zombies, cannibals and the like. Anybody can use those devices (which is why I'm not very fond of the "violent character" strategy.) The challenge is to add suspense to a story that is NOT supposed to be a mystery, suspense or a thriller. And one of the ways to do it is, like Sister Mary says, by leaving questions in the readers' minds (which is what kept me reading "A Reliable Wife" until the end, because the three main characters are seriously flawed!)

    For me endings are also difficult. The thin line between "inevitability" and "predictability" (and corny) is so hard! I guess the surprise factor is something you should have in mind early on in the novel.

    Lucy - You and Stephanie have made me curious about Joyce Carol Oates. Now I want to read her. :-) Thanks for stopping by!

    Denise - I agree. Movies not only have the advantage of visuals, but they also have audio. Those eerie songs are perfect when something really bad is about to happen! I admire those novelists who can create suspense with their words.

    Suze - I hear you. I also had a crush on MJF after I saw BTTF in fifth grade... [sigh]

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am a bit late, but I have a lot to say. I must confess to be an odd duck, I don´t like suspense. I always read the end before I get to chapter 4. I tend to finish my novels because I love my characters and want to see them happy. That doesn´t mean I am not a sucker for plot twists such as Scarlett falling in love with Rhett whereas she has always claimed to love Rhett or Daisy Buchanan running over her husband’s mistress in The Great Gatsby. On the other hand, going through four books to find out if Bella turns into a vampire seemed a bit boring to me. But as I said, I am not the norm, most people love suspense. And Sister Lorena has been very specific and thorough in describing how to achieve that difficult task. Tomorrow I´ll get to the process of torturing characters.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sister Lorena you ask what are our resources for suspense-building. Since I am character-driven I like my characters to evolve, to grow out of their initial personality, to do the unexpected. I tend to place them in situations where they have to face moral dilemmas

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cool tips and great pictures! Thanks for sharing :D

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey, Monica, thanks for stopping by! (Let me know when you have another contest ;))

    Sister Violante, I've always thought it funny that you read the ending right away (remember the day I was telling you about The Shadow of the Wind and you insisted that I tell you what the big mystery was, ha ha!) But you're not the only one, my sister-in-law can't stand suspense, either.

    You say you hate suspense in your own novels, but I was quite intrigued with your Davide. :-)

    I'm the exact opposite. I hate spoilers.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "I've always thought it funny that you read the ending right away." My teenager does this too. She reads the plot synopsis and ending of everything, including movies and television shows. She *hates* surprise. Kinda drives the rest of us crazy because she has a hard time keeping what she knows to herself.

    "Since I am character-driven I like my characters to evolve, to grow out of their initial personality, to do the unexpected. I tend to place them in situations where they have to face moral dilemmas." Violante, I love this. This is my ideal way to write, too. I think that's why I loved "The Painted Veil" by Somerset Maugham so much: it's not terribly plot driven and doesn't rely on many suspense-building devices (not that I'm opposed to those!), but he does such an amazing character study that you fall into the story. I became fascinated with Kitty. And with Walter, who's a bit of a mystery.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sister Lorena, I cannot read a book if Idon´t know in advance what bad things are going to happen and if my favorite character wil be rewarded. There are many novels that had been thrown to the wastebasket on learning that there is no happy end.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sister Stephanie, another case of synchronicity in the Sisterhood.
    Last night, I had Kitty in mind (I love her with Greta Garbo or Naomi Watts looks) when I was thinking about the growing of a character as means to built suspense. She does undergo a trial, living away from comfort, in the mission in some Chinese outpost, but in her case is more as chastisement for her frivolity and infidelity.
    On the other hand, I was thinking about iconic novels like Catcher in the Rye or The Sun also Rises where little happens. You don´t have huge tragedies, characters are not broken and tortured. I have a bit of a problem with that need to take everything away from a character. I don´t think it´s necessary. I would have loved The Great Gatsby even if Gatsby had some sort of happy ending.
    You mention The Road as a novel that starts with the day-after-the-worst-thing-that-could-happen. In a way, The Sun also Rises is like that. Jake Barnes has lost everything since he is been emasculated during the Great War. Talking about Somerset Maugham, in Of Human Bondage, Philip has been born with a clubfoot; ergo he is condemned to be less than a person. Those details make a character interesting, but I don´t see the need to have protagonists undergoing Dickensian tragedies every fifty pages. I grew up choking over Victorian novels that always killed someone: Dora Copperfield, Catherine Earnshaw, and Beth March, not to mention Melly Wilkes’ death. And the worst part was the people left behind mourning and suffering. I like my tragedies, I hate light reading, but I also want some joy, some hope, something that inspires me. That is why I resent surprises because usually they bear bad tidings.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Stephanie told me about "The Painted Veil" and I started reading it a couple of weeks ago (I had to interrupt it to do some other reading.) But after your comments, I'm eager to go back to it! I had no idea it was one of your favorites, Stephanie! (I'm surprised that you say it's not very suspenseful. That first scene, when Kitty is about to get caught with her lover, has tons of suspense. It grabbed me right away.)

    I don't like all tragedy in novels, either. But I get bored if there's not a lot action and too much introspection. That balance is so hard to accomplish!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think suspense comes in many different forms, shapes, and sizes. I don't think any novel could be written without using the element of suspense. It can be extremely heightened or something small, but it has to be present or no novel will work. I have yet to this day to read a book not written with suspense. But I do agree that the characters are just as important. They have to be engaging in their own right, and if they can't do that, well, you, the writer have a problem on your hands.

    Oh, and I had the bad habit of reading the ending of books. I try not to do it so much anymore!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sister Lorena´s post is thought provoking and elevates many questions. I think that K. Hickman´s instructions were right to the point especially in number 4 (forcing the protagonist face his fears). In Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona, the heroine has two love interests, Alejandro, the Native American she marries, and Felipe her adopted brother whom she also marries after Alejandro is killed. In the book, Felipe is a very dull character. In 2000, Ramona was adapted in telenovela format, and the producer made Felipe afraid of water because of a childhood trauma. At some point, Ramona is drowning and Felipe, paralyzed by fear, just stares. Is Alejandro who saves her and wins her. At the end of the novel, to save Ramona´s baby, Felipe does jump into a river conquering his fear and Ramona´s heart. That was an excellent twist.

    Having said that, I still have a problem with forcing too much pain or distress on protagonists. Indeed Scarlett loses everything, but does she become a better, selfless person? On the contrary. She loses Rhett and Bonnie because she´s too wrapped up in making money or acquiring material things that will make up for what she has lost. Have to go to work now, but I have something else to say on the subject and about the difficult balance between too much and too little tragedy that Sister Lorena has just mentioned

    ReplyDelete
  19. The worst example of taking everything from a character, making things difficult for her, and putting her in real danger was developed by Rosemary Rogers, in the 70’s. I was hooked on her historical romances. I imagine that it was her superb style (very similar to Victorian writers) that caught my attention because I despised her characters. One of her main issues was rape. Not that the heroine was raped by the hero (sad common place in bodice rippers). The heroine was raped by everybody (hero, stepfathers, bandits, servants, even other women). Her protagonists were gruesomely raped and in several occasions throughout the novel (and series). They were gang raped, drugged, sold into prostitution, beaten and tortured. Extraordinarily, Rogers novels had very interesting plots, well-crafted storylines, surprising twists , riveting historical episodes, everything a serious novel should have, but the constant violence against women (against men too)was very disturbing.
    I was in my late teens when I began reading her and I needed to read the end, not to see if there was a happy ending, but to see if the protagonist would turn into nicer character. I was too young to comprehend the depth of emotional damage these poor girls had suffered with all that beating and mauling. It was easy for me to brand the as hysterical or immature when the truth was that they were traumatized, but of course neither the writer nor the industry saw them as such. Eventually, modern sensibilities forced RR to write subtler texts. Her latest novels are much more subdued, but terribly boring!

    ReplyDelete
  20. "I have a bit of a problem with that need to take everything away from a character. I don´t think it´s necessary." Violante, it's nice to hear that, when all the writing books say you must make your protagonist suffer horribly. The advice is usually of the "think of the worst thing that could happen and make it happen!" variety. "Don't coddle your characters!" Probably this is the simplest way to build tension but, as several of you have mentioned, it can also turn off the reader if the novel is 300 pages of unremitting misery. My daughter quit the Hunger Games trilogy because she was put off by how sucky life became for Katniss. And it was pretty dreary. A lot of readers gave up in the middle of book 2 for that reason. It should have been suspenseful, but things were so awful you almost stopped caring.

    I haven't read Rosemary Rogers, but Diana Gabaldon has the same kind of obsession with rape or near-rape in her Outlander series. I like the first book very much in spite of this, but pretty soon everyone in England, America, and Jamaica is trying to rape Clare and/or Jamie. At least she's equal opportunity there: the men's "bodices" are ripped as often and more viciously than the women's.

    Lorena, I'd say The Painted Veil is one of my favorites I've read this year. I'm not sure I'd say it's a favorite of all time. I'm finding that the classics are classics for a reason, though, as I work my way through them. I read Camus' "The Stranger" this month and loved it. I've started The Great Gatsby and the writing is (while not exactly zippy) so beautiful. The one that hasn't worked for me is The Turn of the Screw. It *should* be suspenseful (ghosts and governesses and possessed children, oh my!) but I was super bored and gave up.

    Ooh, that reminds me: Stieg Larsson is supposed to be a page turner, yet so many of us have been unable to get into him. I typically find thrillers to be the most boring books of all, so maybe I'm not one to analyze suspense!

    ReplyDelete
  21. In response to Violante's comment that she doesn't like too much suspense in a novel, I guess I'd like to tip in that I, too, was always a reader who would get frustrated when misery after misery was piled on a character. I understand well that a reader's imagination has to be captured and her attention sustained, but too much conflict and suspense and you risk two things: one, you desensitize the reader and two, you (plain and simple) lay it on too thick.

    I am guilty of being too kind to my characters but when I *try* to ramp up the tension, it feels like it doesn't ring true- like I am contriving conflict and the thing I hate most about that is twofold- I hate writing it and it reads that way. :(

    It's all about finding that sweet spot, friends. And I think we can take heart that no writer lives there but every writer gets the invitation to visit every once in a while.

    Cheers and happy luck to all in your quest!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sister Stephanie , Diana Gabaldon is a atraight RR follower. Great craft, great style, fantastic storyteller but that love for the gruesome drives me bananas!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I woud like an example of ,paraphrasing Sister Suze, being too kind to charcters, because every novel has to have conflict, and characters are supposed to anguish just like we do in real life, otherwise it would be unrealistic and boring, but I strain my bain and can't come up with an example.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Sister Violante, thanks for reminding me of that wonderful scene with "my" Felipe in Ramona! That was such a great production. (I think I may have been the only one rooting for him and not Alejandro!) How does the book compare?

    About Scarlett and GWTW. I was pretty much miserable after Bonnie died (it was bad enough that both of Scarlett's parents had died!) The ending was unsatisfying to me (I've always wondered why it became the huge success that it is with such a tragic ending.) HOWEVER, I have to watch it every time it's on. I'm not sure if it's the chemistry between Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, the costumes or the setting, but it has a strange attraction for me.

    The only movie that I can recall without a lot of conflict, but which works very well (and has even become a "cult" film) is "Before Sunrise." The big conflict here is that time (the antagonist) is running out and soon they will be apart forever. Like you said yesterday, another point of tension/problem is that they didn't expect to fall in love in a day. (So I guess the suspense here is what's going to happen when they have to separate? Will they see each other again?) Interestingly, the question is not answered until the second movie "Before Sunset" (which takes place nine years later and the storyline develops "in real time.")

    Steph, I read The Stranger in 9th or 10th grade. I don't remember much, but that murder scene at the beach impacted me. I'm not sure this book would have been published in the U.S. nowadays (because of the unsympathetic character.) What do you think?

    Suze, the balance between too much conflict and not enough is very difficult indeed. I believe I have the opposite problem. In my effort to keep the reader entertained, I often have to stop myself from creating TOO many complications for the protagonist.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Indeed he was your "papacito!" At work I was going over some of those snaps from Ramona for a R. Strickler slideshow, and Felipe´s phobia came to mind inmediately. Lucy Orozco knew exactly how to turn him into a memorable character.
    In Hunt Jackson´s novel Felipe is a nonenity and Ramona and Alejandro are childish dolts.But the author was trying to deliver a political message theefore, character building was not a priority.

    ReplyDelete
  26. GWTW doesn't really have a tragic ending. It finishes in a hopeful note. Peggy M was planning to write a sequel so she left it open for Scarlett to plan on how to get Rhett back

    ReplyDelete
  27. What is most amazing about L'Etranger is that it was published in Nazi occupied France, but then German authorities encouraged any for of art that showed the French as decadent and unsympathetic.
    That is a good question.Do characters have to be nice for a book to be published? I hate Stieg Larssen´s characters.
    PS. I am still at work. That is why I am answering in snippets

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hmmm... I could be wrong here, but I read that Peggy refused to write a sequel when the publisher asked her to. Supposedly, that's why the sequel Alexandra Ripley wrote was so controversial.

    Does Ramona end up with Felipe in the book, too?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Themore I readbout Peggy is that she was terribly insecure at that stage of her life, but she wanted to wrute a sequel. She just didn´t get the courage to start.
    Yes, after Alejandro is hanged , she marries Felipe. Another great twist in the Orozco version was the incest topic. In the book, both Felipe and Ramona know they are not siblings, so he is free to love her, unlike the soap where he is tormented by the incestuous fantasies.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thank you, Maeve. Welcome to the Sisterhood blog! Please come back and see us!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Really good article. Printing it off to read again.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Great, J.L.! I hope you can use some of these tips in your own writing. Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks lorena! This article really helped! Like, a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm happy to have read your post!Sure like it!

    ReplyDelete
  35. This blog was very helpful for my homework thanks

    ReplyDelete
  36. Lorena, this was a very interesting post. I have published my novel, but I cannot help but look back on my book as a critique when I read these points and think what else I could have or shouldn't have added in. This post is also now responsible for a complete flip in the plot for the about-to-be-written third book of mine. Thanks for a wonderful insight into suspence.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thank you so much! This really helped me with my homework!

    ReplyDelete
  38. great blog, luv da pics :P
    cud u pls upload mre of dese blogs there very helpful thx
    xXSWAGBOIIIXx

    ReplyDelete
  39. Thanks soooooooooooooooooooo much this has really helped me to do good in my assessments.

    ReplyDelete

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog are the sole responsibility of each sister and do not reflect the opinions of the entire sisterhood.