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.

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