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Friday, June 01, 2007

Suspense Technique #1: And the Winner is...

Wow, this was hard. So many cool story snippets to choose from. Many were artistic, displaying style and serious vocab chops. Most did indeed create suspense using Mystery as a tool. Having poured over the entries for Suspense Technique #1: Mystery, I did at last decide on a victor. And the winner is: Aravis! For this suspenseful entry:

Aravis said...

The wall was fairly unremarkable. It was stone; simple, gray stone. But there was something that the old man was interested in, for he ran his finger down the crack in front of him with a perusing gaze, trying to find something. There was not much to be heard; A mouse here and there, but whoever this man was, he was alone in a rather unsettling, dusty, narrow hallway.

He breathed in through his nose and tilted his back a little, causing his tweed cap to fall over his eyebrows. The man reached into a pocket inside his jacket and pulled out a small blue crystal, and then fitted it into a crack where four stone blocks met.

The crystal started to shine, reacting to the miasma in the air in the hallway, and then burst, breaking down the wall. The man brushed some dust out of his white mustache, and proceeded through.

Beyond the opening was not much, only some old copper pipes in a space the size of a small room. The man wasn’t too happy that he used one of his crystals to only make it to a maintenance room.

“Where are you…” he mumbled to himself, putting his hand to the stubble on his chin. He stood there, contemplating his situation, and then turned his back to explore further down the hall. Once his back was parallel with the wall he had just broken, a rush of air flew past him, with a sound like a giant breathing in. Light, too, drifted past him, and a shadow drifted forth from the room he had just left.

This man knew what was happening, and quickly turned around to see a figure of shadow.

“Johannes W├Ąchter, not this time,” exhaled the figure of shadow, growing ever more solid, but it was still translucent, it was still the thing that Johannes had come here to find: a ghost.

The first three paragraphs here are electric. The old guy searching the wall for something the reader doesn't see or understand hooked me right away. The concrete description was perfectly visual. All the old man's motions spoke of his character. I felt I sort of knew him, though I hadn't a clue what he was looking for. And then the explosive blue crystal--very cool. Let's the reader know there's a supernatural bent in this story. All in all a very good hook. One constructive bit: the last line where you tell us it's a ghost...I don't think you need it. Your description tells us that. We're savvy readers, you know. lol We writers often are so determined to make sure that our readers "get us" that we tell them, when we should merely imply.
Aravis just email me your snail mail address, and I'll send you a signed copy of The Door Within Lost Chapters Edition. Oh, and let me know for whom I should sign it.

So many good entries…I want to recognize a few more just for unique features (no slight if I don't mention someone.)

Everlasting Scribe for the Best One-Liner "…noxious humans."

Eve for the Most Subtle suspense: the flight goggles and the disapproving father.

Gwenn for the best inner tension: What did Annek do? And what will happen when Maddie finds out?

Margaret for the "You piqued my interest award." Love the folksy feel to the characters, and I think you underplayed your hand a little. I think the library is going to be very interesting.

Josh for the "Oh, mannnn....someone is in a bad place award." Who is this sadistic "Mr. 9?" And what's going to happen to poor Cary?

If you're new to Enter The Door Within, definitely take some time and check out these entries! One of these folks could be on the bestseller list someday.