Archive for May, 2015

Perfecting the Build-up

When writing suspense, build-ups are very important.  They need to contain key elements and well timed revelations to maintain the audience’s interest without being overly obvious. And they need to be laid out correctly, or they simply fall apart into a pile of pointless plot lines.

There’s lots of decision making when creating the scenes that build to a climax. Often story lines get pruned because they slow down the pace or interrupt a particular sequence. And that’s okay. Just because a  funny sentence or flowery description occurs to you doesn’t mean it’s not expendable. Save it for something else.

Usually there are several smaller climaxes that become build-ups on their own and create the structure for the big Kahuna climax that will usually end the book. Since it’s the beginning of gardening season up here in Wisconsin, I will make a gardening metaphor.

Think of a book as a terraced garden that works its way up a hillside. The smaller climaxes are points of interest that lead the eye up to a big focal point at the top of the pile, maybe a fancy smancy sculpture or water feature. The build-ups are the walls and dirt that support the points of interest and make up the bulk of the entire structure. They need to be formed correctly and be aesthetically pleasing without diverting attention away from the climaxes they are supporting.

Build ups also need to support each other in terms of validity and relevance to the overall story, just like climaxes need to hold their own without outdoing the next climax or the really big one that sets off the whole thing. If everything is held in proper balance, you should be left with a product that you can feel confident to share with others.

I’m at the point in Book 6, Woman in the Wind, where I’m building up to my first big climax. Securities will be shattered, panic and suspicion will set in, and fast paced action will ensue. Just all in its own, correct time.

The English Language is Not a Sacred Cow

Yeah, I said it. I’ll stand behind it too. All the people out there who compare the witnessing of misused punctuation, grammar, diction, homophones (that’s my biggest failure), and all the other so-called abuses of the English language to having a nose hair ripped out, you have my sympathies, but not necessarily my support. Before you hunt me down with pitch forks and red sharpie markers, allow me to defend my statement.

First off, historically speaking, the English language that we use now resembles little of the English language that was spoken and or written even one hundred years ago. Don’t believe me, get a hold of any piece of published material from the turn of the twentieth century and observe the formality of the language. Go back another 100 years, around the time Jane Austin was writing, and you would swear she had no education, when comparing her sentence structures to what we consider acceptable today. Shakespeare? I don’t think I even need to elaborate on that.

Second off, the English language is a bastardized language to begin with. Much like the little group of islands from which it originates, the language evolved from the series of invasions by Germanic (and in my opinion, Scandinavian) tribes that assimilated themselves with the inhabitants. To quote Wikipedia: “English frequently makes use of loanwords originating from other languages.”

My point is, language, like all forms of communication, is an evolving entity that will adapt to the ever changing needs of its culture. Rules are made to be broken when they no longer serve their purpose. And claiming that the only voices that matter are the ones that use your rules for correct English is not only elitist, it’s a little backwards.