Welcome to the MORE Blog Tour
T.M. Franklin's first novel, MORE, has been reviewed on this blog. MyReadingLounge is very happy to say "Welcome!" to this amazing author for today's stop of the MORE Blog Tour.

The tour is running until October 6th. Tomorrow on MichBookReviews there will be an author interview with Word Associations; then, on Oct 5th, on SamsAwesomeness: Author Interview. 
On Oct 6th, 12:00p.m. PDT: Project Team Beta Guest Post: "Making the Jump from Fan Fiction to Original Fiction." On the same day, 2:00p.m. PDT: Project Team Beta Live Chat and Announcement of Top Three Entries in the Sign Me PTB Logo Contest. (Enter now to win!) Prize is a signed paperback of MORE. RSVP for the Live Chat HERE by October 5th.

Today T.M. Franklin is sharing with us a writing lesson for MyReadingLounge's Writing Lab. Let's talk about:

Creating a Page-Turner
Tips for Building Suspense in Writing
by T.M. Franklin

You know the feeling. You’re reading a book, and the hero is creeping down a dark hallway. There’s something around the corner – you just know it – but will he figure it out before it’s too late? It’s three in the morning, but you can’t put the book down until you find out. Your heart pounds as you turn the page, and you hold your breath, your eyes racing down the page to find out what happens next.

It’s a great feeling, and it’s one most writers love to create.

Creating suspense in writing can be a challenge, but it’s not an insurmountable one. And I’m not just talking about writing a “suspense novel.” Suspense can be a useful tool, no matter what your genre. Will they overcome the obstacles and fall in love? Will he get the ransom in time to save his kidnapped father? Will she escape the house before the crazed killer finds her? Romance, adventure, thriller…suspense can be used in all of them.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert, but there are some tips I follow to try and build suspense when I write. Maybe some of them can help you as well!

Beginning at the Beginning

Building tension is like building anything else, in that you need to start with a strong base. Hook the reader right from the beginning of the story. You want them asking questions: What’s happening? Who’s the mysterious figure? Why is he after her? Why is she fighting him? Get them interested in finding the answers and reveal them bit by bit. I tried to do this with the beginning of MORE.

He was close.

Ava pressed back against the tree trunk, trying to hold her breath but only able to manage it for a moment or two before her lungs gave out, air sawing out and in again desperately against her will. Rough bark rubbed the skin of her palms where she gripped the tree, scraped her cheek as she turned her head to try and catch a glimpse of him.

Darkness mocked her.

Nothing to see. No one to help.

-MORE, Ch. 1

I hoped this would spark the reader’s interest – having them wondering who “he” was and why Ava was hiding from him.

There’s a balance to be struck here, though. While you withhold some information to keep the reader interested, sometimes you can give them an advantage and let them see more than the characters. Use foreshadowing and premonitions to give the reader a hint of what’s to come. It’s nice to be surprised, but suspense can also come from knowing something is ahead and finding out how the character will handle it.

Remember, the reader doesn’t have to know everything. Don’t be afraid to misdirect. Throw in a mysterious character with unknown motivations – or maybe a character who all out lies. Characters don’t always have to tell the truth, and that’s true even in their own thoughts.

Vary the Pace

Suspense doesn’t always equal action. It’s important to have some down time for your characters to consider their next move. It also relaxes your reader a bit, so the next surprise is even more of a surprise. Time is a useful tool as well when it comes to building suspense. If your character is facing a deadline, it gives the plot a sense of urgency.

Use the Character’s Fear

Putting your character in danger is a great way to build tension, but remember that danger has to be real. If your character is immortal, a gun pointed at his head isn’t going to hurt him, so there’s no real suspense there. But what if that gun was turned on his half-human daughter, who could be killed? Now, you have some real fear and intensity. 

The character has to face challenges, but those challenges can’t be too easy to overcome, or the reader will lose interest. The odds need to seem insurmountable so the character is under some pressure.

Another option: The impossible choice. Will your character save the man she loves and risk letting the villain who killed her father escape? Will he keep a grasp on the key to the treasure, or let it fall so he can pull himself up over the ledge? You get the idea. You can also isolate the character; surround him by threats he has to battle alone. Tension can happen in the character’s thoughts as well as actions. And never forget the power of the near-miss. Remember holding your breath as Indiana Jones ran out of that cave with the giant boulder rolling after him? 

Run, Indy, RUN!!!
Sure, we knew he’d get away – he had star billing, after all – but that close call was just right to get your heart pumping.

The Big “Uns”

To sum up, think about the big “uns” – uncertainty, unpredictability, the unknown, the unexpected. Sprinkle liberally and you have a recipe for building suspense. Throw in a little unresolved sexual tension and you’re good to go!


Thank you, T.M. Franklin!

Don't forget to visit www.TMFranklin.com all week for a chance to win one of THREE prize packages. Each includes a Gimme MORE tote bag, pen, bookmark, and a signed copy of MORE. New chances to win every day, so don't miss out!


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