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Conflict, Action and Suspense

de William Noble

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What makes a book a page-turner? How do you grab your readers right from the start and hold them through the last sentence? How do you make your plot twist and turn and keep the action moving without losing continuity? You do it by generating drama and developing it using conflict, action and suspense. You make your reader burn to know what's going to happen next. You create tension...and build it...to the breaking point. William Noble shows you how to intensify that pressure throughout your story. You'll learn exactly what constitutes conflict, action and suspense, how they relate to other important ingredients in your story, and - perhaps most important - how to manipulate them. Through thorough, step-by-step instruction, you'll learn how to... set the stage with techniques and devices that enhance drama introduce suspense from the very beginning of your story build suspense through cliff-hangers, dialogue, mood, character development, point of view, subtlety and indirection, and time and place bring all that conflict, action and suspense to a gripping conclusion There are all sorts of ways to create tension in your prose - from using adjectives and nouns that drip with imagery to making quick scene cuts and transitions to accelerating the pace. Learn them here. Then use them, and your story will plunge your readers into a river of worry...and the current will carry them to The End.… (mais)
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Noble's book covers the basic concepts of drama, confrontation, pulling on the reader's emotions, escalation, and immediacy. He also deals with elements that keep your story moving: appropriate grammar, charged images, shifts in point of view, and contrast. He does a good job of telling us the how and why of things, rather than simply telling us what to do.

He touches on suspense's relationship with all sorts of basic writing issues such as dialogue, openings, cliffhangers, mood and atmosphere, character development, point of view, pacing, endings, and so on. Noble does a good job of focusing on specific techniques relevant to suspense for the most part.

It isn't a perfect book. It isn't as dry as most textbooks, but it could certainly be better than it is. Some of the examples that Mr. Noble makes up to use in the book are a bit on the overblown side, which kind of undercuts some of his points. He might have been better off using more examples from published fiction. Also, some of Mr. Noble's assertions regarding his topics have since been proven to be wrong. For example, when talking about the logic of settings: "...And a horror-suspense story would have problems if it was set in the unfolding of a miracle." I've seen this done quite well, actually.

This book was originally copyrighted in 1994, and this may be part of the problem. Since then some of the techniques that he lauds as strong and effective have become over-used and trite. (Overused techniques became that way precisely because they're so effective.) Some of the things he says can't be done have been done. As it is, this book serves as a very good example of why you need to do a lot of reading in the fiction field you want to write in. Otherwise, how will you know which of his techniques have been over-used, which can be seen as trite if you aren't careful how you use them, and which are still seen as solid, useful methods?

Full review at ErrantDreams ( )
  errantdreams | Dec 15, 2007 |
Currently reading. So far, so good. ( )
  sleepingbeauty37 | Oct 8, 2006 |
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What makes a book a page-turner? How do you grab your readers right from the start and hold them through the last sentence? How do you make your plot twist and turn and keep the action moving without losing continuity? You do it by generating drama and developing it using conflict, action and suspense. You make your reader burn to know what's going to happen next. You create tension...and build it...to the breaking point. William Noble shows you how to intensify that pressure throughout your story. You'll learn exactly what constitutes conflict, action and suspense, how they relate to other important ingredients in your story, and - perhaps most important - how to manipulate them. Through thorough, step-by-step instruction, you'll learn how to... set the stage with techniques and devices that enhance drama introduce suspense from the very beginning of your story build suspense through cliff-hangers, dialogue, mood, character development, point of view, subtlety and indirection, and time and place bring all that conflict, action and suspense to a gripping conclusion There are all sorts of ways to create tension in your prose - from using adjectives and nouns that drip with imagery to making quick scene cuts and transitions to accelerating the pace. Learn them here. Then use them, and your story will plunge your readers into a river of worry...and the current will carry them to The End.

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808.3Literature By Topic Rhetoric and anthologies Rhetoric of fiction

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