Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Thrillers and Suspense

Welcome back!


Inspired by Halloween, I decided to focus this month's writing article on a genre that specializes in thrills, chills and spills! We will be discussing Thrillers and Suspense as a genre in fiction.


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The basics of a story is a plotline which follows the exploits of the main characters as they attempt to resolve a conflict while making their way to their intended goal. So how exactly does Thriller and Suspense differ from other genres? Suspense in fiction happens when dramatic tension escalates, and becomes charged with anticipation. So the genre isn’t necessarily about plot as much as it is about emotion, defined by using tension to create anxiety, uncertainty, or surprise. So it is easy to see how this can cause confusion, as these characteristics are applicable to a broad range of literary genres. Thriller/Suspense can stand on its own, but can also be incorporated into other genres, such as crime/thriller, western/thriller, fantasy/thriller, horror/thriller, and many more.


It is a very popular genre in writing, however it’s classification seems to elude many. They tend to get scattered around with other genres, being categorized as Horror, Science Fiction or even Mystery.


To understand Thriller/Suspense fiction, you need to understand it’s perspective. The storytelling approach when dealing with a crisis focuses on being proactive, with a hefty dose of drama. In order to be proactive, events need to happen in the beginning of the story, forcing the protagonist to react. To better understand, let us have a comparison:


  • Mystery: A crime happens, then we see the protagonist spend the rest of the story trying to find out what happened. He is therefore reactive.
  • Horror: Unspeakable terror happens, then we see the protagonist spend the rest of the story trying to escape it. He is therefore reactive.
  • Science-Fiction: Something out of the ordinary happens, then we see the protagonist spend the rest of the story dealing with the situation. He is therefore reactive.
  • Thriller/Suspense: The protagonist receives information about impending doom, then we see him spend the rest of the story attempting to prevent it. He is therefore proactive.
 
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The key to writing Thrillers/Suspense fiction is not to ask “What needs to happen?”, it’s to ask “What can go wrong?”. Four factors need to be taken into account when writing this genre: reader empathy, reader concern, impending danger and escalating tension. So the tension in the story needs to escalate, or else the suspense will evaporate before it reaches a climax.


Here are some important points to remember when writing Suspense Fiction:


  • Create a good hero. This may be true to any story, but the suspense hero has to be someone the reader will worry about. In Suspense, the hero helps create tension by having their life, needs or desires in jeopardy. We push suspense even further by keeping said aspects away from the protagonist, emphasizing how deeply the character wants it, and showing what consequences will result if they don’t get it.
  • Create a good villain. In a suspense novel, the identity of the antagonist is known early, and they are very visible to the audience. It is therefore important that the villain be a worthy opponent to the hero. Explore who the antagonist is; what is their motivations, background and character. Show the reader why they should fear this person.
  • Understand tragedy. It is important to understand the importance of loss. The goal of Suspense stories is to engage the reader's concern by heightening the impact of the tragedy. But if the story contains hundreds of murders, each explained in detail, then the act of murder will seem less tragic, and readers won’t feel concerned by it. To build tension, don’t emphasize the violent act, increase the reader's apprehension about the violent act.
  • Modulate Suspense. Building tension takes time. Suspense happens in the stillness of your story, in the gaps between the action sequences. Create a feeling of apprehension by slowing down time; use longer, more complex sentences rather than being short and to the point. This can help to increase suspense. Break the tension by inserting a pause into suspense; a moment of comic relief, reveal a clue that advances the plot or maybe character development. Use this technique of inserting a brief respite to give readers a break, then return to the suspense to keep them hooked.

  • Promises and Payoffs. A promise is anticipation that a dreadful event is going to happen; the payoff is the action taken against said event. There can be a suspense sequence early in the novel, and the tension should build up the farther into the story the reader gets. The bigger the promise, the bigger the payoff. It’s important, however, that those promises always be fulfilled, or else the readers will end up feeling disappointed.

  • Create dilemmas. Events in the storyline should come at a price. The protagonist needs challenging dilemmas to test their character, and must seemingly be a lose-lose situation. By their nature, protagonists can’t stray from their morals or promises, so they will need to face dilemmas, no matter how difficult.
  • High stakes. The story must be about a cause so important to the protagonist, that they are willing to do anything to prevent it from being in danger. Place said cause in some sort of peril, then raise the stakes by making the danger more imminent, intimate, personal and devastating. Postponing the resolution will help sustain the suspense, and ensures readers will empathize with the protagonist.
  • Apply pressure. A key way for writers to create tension is by pitting the protagonist against what seems to be insurmountable odds. Pile on the problems by giving the protagonist more things to do than they can handle; working against the clock, waves of enemies, elemental disasters, allies in distress, unexpected obstacles, etc. Push them further by removing their tools, escape routes and support system. The protagonist should be working every minute to achieve their goal, which should feel just out of reach. Heroes should be stretched to the breaking point in order to save the day.
  • Foreshadow rather than telegraph. The line between foreshadowing and telegraphing is a subtle one. Creating a scene that ends in foreshadow is meant to hint at something more sinister to come without out giving away the punchline. Telegraphing is when the reader guesses what’s coming, effectively ruining the suspense.

  • Point of view. The reader should have foresight into the actions of both the protagonist and the antagonist. By making the readers aware of the trouble before the protagonist, they get to see the lines of convergence between the protagonist and antagonist. This technique builds tension from the reader’s self-imposed fears of knowing the consequences of the perils ahead.
  • Turn up the Sensory Detail. Heighten anticipation by focusing on the right sensory detail. By making your character hyper-aware of sensations, you add a feeling of impending danger, which contributes to dramatic tension. The absence of sensory detail, such as stillness and shadows, can also suggest a hidden menace. Furthermore, using the protagonists internal dialogue allows the reader to experience the tension firsthand.


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In closing, the most important thing I learned today, is to be unpredictable. Make nothing straight-forward. Readers will try to predict what will happen, but they want to be wrong. The reader might know what the story’s endgame is, but not how it’s going to get there. Give them more than what they are anticipating.


Until next time!


Cheers,


Patrick Osborne

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Interview - Melissa Franckowiak

Welcome back,


           This month's interview features published author, Melissa Franckowiak. I met Melissa on one of the many Facebook writing groups I am part of. Having a very demanding career, she still finds time to balance writing with her many responsibilities a practicing Anesthesiologist.


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Short Bio:
Debut author Melissa Crickard set goals in early childhood to be a best-selling novelist and physician.  The daughter of  an English and a Science teacher, Melissa attended Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Buffalo, and after being awarded two Bachelor’s degrees in Physical Therapy and Chemistry, she advanced toward her M.D. degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, going on to become a diplomat of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
While training as a resident, Melissa recognized not only the critical problems facing medicine and society, but also the promise and limitless optimism that scientific advances and medicine abound with potential.  Additionally, her English professors at the engineering based Georgia Tech examined countless works that raised questions of scientific ethics and the role of women in the field, which remained a necessary inspiration for writing medical thrillers. These themes, as well as her experience as a practicing Anesthesiologist, formed the basis for her fiction novels, which she began writing fervently after the birth of her son, Roman.  She is the author a textbook chapter in the medical textbook, Complications in Anesthesia, and served as a contributing journalist for general medical stories for WGRZ Channel 2 in Buffalo, NY, belonging to the Association of Health Care Journalists.  She holds a faculty position in the State University of New York at Buffalo Department of Anesthesiology. She lectures to residents and students and practices Anesthesia full time in western New York. She is currently a semi-finalist in the international business competition, 43North, for her startup company, PneumaGlide, P.C. She is currently C.E.O. of the medical device company and holds a utility patent for her invention. She was recently awarded a 7.5K grant from National Grid and a 40.2K grant from the University of Buffalo to promote the company. Melissa writes for the Buffalo magazine, Traffic, and is seeking an MFA in creative writing.
After completing her first mainstream fiction novel, Another Five Patients, a culmination of five interwoven stories that address larger issues of the modern hospital, she immediately initiated her second, plot driven commercial fiction novel, The Labrador Response.
Published Works: (if any)
Coming soon: Another Five Patients, The Labrador Response
Current Projects: (if any) Currently working on a literary novel.


When did you begin writing?


Does 3d grade count? We made books bound with kitchen string and rubber cement. Mine was about a purple man. I returned to writing seriously after medical school and after my first child, Roman.


Did you receive any special training or attend a school?


I'm beginning an MFA program at University of Texas El Paso this fall. I'm very excited about this.


Where do you get your inspiration from?


Country music inspires me to write poignant characters, and I have a background in Chemistry and science to inspire me to write compelling plots.


Do you use any special resources when writing? (other books, computer programs, etc)


I use the Internet a lot. Most of the medical facts in my knowledge are still upstairs, fresh in my head from graduate school and many days on the job.

What is (in your opinion) the most important thing to remember when writing, and why is it so important?


Reading is essential to being a good writer. Everyone has there own style in storytelling, but a writer needs to find a voice that works for them. To do this, you must read many different writers.


What is (in your opinion) the most challenging part of writing, and how do you overcome it?


Moving through time and place is challenging. It gives a fourth dimension to a story that makes it seem not just a snapshot of the characters' stories, but their whole worlds.

Did you use an agent? (why or why not?)


I had an agent who sent my work out long before it was ready. I'm not sure she even read my book, and seemed more interested in selling my editing services. No agent is better than a bad agent. I am currently looking for a good one.


Did you use an Editor? If not, what process did you use to edit your work?


I do. Editing is important, and every writer has to edit their own work multiple times, but when it's as good as you think it can be, that's when it's time to turn it over to an editor.


How did you get your book published? (self-published, Vanity publishing, Mainstream publisher).


I'm still looking for a mainstream publisher. I'm considering using Createspace.

Do you handle your own marketing?


I'm looking into marketing and publicity currently. It's very important to a book's visibility and success, and I don't want to self publish until all my ducks are in a row and the books has its best chance for success.


What is your best marketing tip?


I don't know enough about this yet to comment. This is a learning point for me, too.


Do you have any advice for other writers?


Don't be afraid to write because you think it won't be "good." You can always change what you have on the page.


I would like to thank Melissa Franckowiak for her time and wish her good luck on her journey, her participation in this interview was very much appreciated. I hope my readers found this interview as helpful and informative as I did.


Until Next time,


           Patrick Osborne



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Current Projects Part 33



Welcome back!
          September was an invigorating month in terms of projects! I got a lot of artistic work done, and managed to finish my basement renovations just in time for my girlfriend's birthday party on the 30th. I still have some ideas to work on, but they will have to wait till later in October.



We are now approaching my second most favorite holiday of the year; Halloween! Soon the neighborhood will be full of creepy decorations, shops will be selling discounted candy in bulk, a variety of costumes will be on display in stores, and (my personal favorite) it is time for my yearly Horror Movie Marathon!

           Sadly, I didn’t get much done this past month in terms of writing or reading. My time was divided between my week on vacation, basement decoration and renovations and one poor sick puppy. Fortunately, I did have time to work on a few Halloween inspired articles for the month of October. I hope you all enjoy them!

            The majority of my writing time was spent working on this month’s featured post; Thrillers and Suspense. I did a fair amount of research on the subject, and put everything I learned into one writing article. A lot of work went into this piece, so I trust you will find it as interesting as I did.

             In honor of Halloween, my next book review will be on a Sci-Fi/Horror novel. The story was an interesting twist a popular Science Fiction franchise. I hope you all love a good mash-up!

In regards to my story, I chipped away at the main antagonists character sheet, filling in some details to his backstory. Unfortunately, that is the extent of the progress I made this month.


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In regards of new material from Missing Worlds Media, there has only been one releases in the past month, but it’s a good one! The article covers MWM’s presence at the PAX Expo, and contains a video of a panel we did there. It goes into detail of our progress, and give some details as to what you can expect. You can read the full articles on our kickstarter page:


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That is all I have for this month. In closing, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to visit my blog, your support is truly appreciated. Feel free to contact me on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter (@OzmosisCoH) if you have any questions or comments. I can be reached via the following social media:And to all, have a Happy Halloween!

Until next time.

Cheers,

Patrick Osborne