Sunday at church a few of us adults were peeping in children’s church listening to our amazing children’s pastor talk about pressure.
He had a coke can, shaking it up, talking about pressures that mount up and build. He kept talking and shaking, weaving in and out of children.
Most of them ducked. A few raised their hands as if to say, “Pick me! Explode that joker right on my head!”
A few adult comments made outside the window were:
“If he opens that, who’s cleaning it up?”
“The janitors are gonna be maaaad.”
“Is he really going to open that on a kid?”
“I hope he opens that on a kid.” (Okay, so that’s what I said!)
His voice built, his pace increased, and the can just kept shaking. He put it over one child’s head…the crowd ooohed. He raised it over another. The crowd aaahed.
He opened the can.
The man behind me said, “Well, that was rather anti-climactic. I’ve been waiting all this time for an explosion.”
And I thought…
That’s exactly what not to do in a book.
I read a book recently that kept me on the edge of my seat, like the can, shaking and shaking but it didn’t deliver an explosion. It didn’t even fall flat. It was empty, and I was disappointed because up until then, I was hooked.
By all means, when writing, shake the can. Keep it going, but when you pop the tab–be sure there’s an explosion.
If you build excitement and suspense, then pop the tab on the crowd, no one will care when foam runs down their face, stains the carpet, or sticks to their skin. They’ll be thrilled. They’ll show it to everyone, and they’ll smile and sigh in satisfaction.
Here’s 3 things that make a book shake for me as a reader:
1. Romantic tension–lots of it
2. Mystery– Please have some secrets, lies, and twists I can’t see coming
3. Escalating scenes with an increase in pace
The Explosion: When all of the above collides. BAM! The secrets are revealed and the reactions are intense, the twists become unraveled, and the hero and heroine finally…finally…have their steamy moment or the one that actually puts them together! Okay, now the Parent Trap song is in my head. “Let’s get together, yeah, yeah, yeah…” Oh, gag.
Writers: What do you do to shake your can so there’s an explosion? Share your tips!
Readers: What books have you read that feel like they’ve exploded? If you talk about one that fell flat, please don’t include the title, that’s somebody’s baby! 🙂
Have a great weekend! See ya on Monday.