Blog Archives

The Power of an Unanswered Question

Last night I finished a book I enjoyed despite long pages of tedium and an abundance of flashbacks. Halfway through, with numerous other books waiting on my Kindle, I asked myself why I kept reading. I skimmed over large sections, sometimes whole pages, (all totaled, maybe half the book) and yet, continued to the end. Rare for me, as I don’t have the patience to waste time on mediocre novels.

The reason I kept reading despite the my page-skimming? The author planted a driving question I needed resolved.

I was pretty certain I knew the answer. I’ve read enough predictable novels to expect predictability, but I was pleasurably surprised. In the end, the novelist not only answered my question, but in a way I’d never suspected.

As you work on your novels, remember to plant questions in your readers’ minds. More importantly, make sure all those questions—those unknowns anchored at the end of scenes and chapters—point to a larger question, a driving question. It may make the difference between a sludge-pile novel and a best seller.

As a side note, if a reader can skim over anything and still catch the story, delete. It’ll save a tree. 🙂

How Strong is Your Hold on Reality?

Okay writers, we knew you were weird. We’ve seen  you stalk pedestrians with notebook and pencil in hand, lurking in the shadows to catch those dialogue nuggets, facial expressions, and major blow-ups you need to craft into your story. We’ve caught glimpses of those emails coming in and know you’ve subscribed to every newsletter from the effects of toe-nail fungus to how to poison your best friend’s friend and get away with it. Research? Sure. Along with those mammoth skulls tucked in your office desk drawer, pictures plastered across your walls, and rapidly scribbled jibberish you call notes tacked to every surface.

And you thought you were the only one suffering from creativity-infused insanity. I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone. And there is help.

Well, not help so much as a cyber-support group. Join us on Novel Rocket here as a few of my favorite authors share their frequent reality slips.