A sense of mystery. What makes you read on? #3
Before I start. I have been shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards, Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award 2012 for The Istanbul Puzzle. You can vote from anywhere in the world here. The Istanbul Puzzle is half way down. Please vote for whatever novels you liked or just the crime novel you liked. Vote however you wish. Voting closes midnight GMT on the 18th November. I promise not to ask again.
* I will tell you a little-known secret about why people read on. The secret concerns the way our brains operate. It will help you pull your readers forward through your story. As a writer, it is vitally important that you know this.
* The second secret is . . . wait, there’s someone at the door. I hope it’s not that guy who was waving a gun at me when I cut in front of him a few minutes ago. He looked like one mean mother. Wait . . . what the!
* The third secret of creating a sense of mystery is . . . hold on, I could finish this, but I think there are three people outside now. And one of them is around the back. And there’s another one upstairs! What the hell is that buzzing noise? Is that a chainsaw? Maybe two!
* The fourth secret of mystery is easy to guess. It goes back a long way. You know, I was always afraid of one thing. When I was a child it wasn’t men in masks that worried me. It was something more ancient, more hard wired inside me, more evil. Something I couldn’t escape. Do you know what it is?
* If you want to know the fifth mystery you will have to wait until the next time we get back to this subject.
To summarise, the five techniques for creating a sense of mystery in your writing, as used above, are:
* Foreshadowing and keeping people waiting for an answer.
* Putting your character in danger.
* Increasing the danger.
* Shifting the fear to something different, something older or more personal
* The cliff hanger.
These techniques must not be over-used, but if you use them well, in a new and unique way, you will drive your readers to read on. And that’s what we want, isn’t it, for readers to read our stories?
I wonder would you mind telling us, through a comment below, which other mystery techniques writers use, as this list isn’t intended to be complete, just a good starting point for a conversation?
And please sign up for updates above right, as I will be giving away Advanced Reader Copies of The Jerusalem Puzzle in December. And I will be able to tell you what to do to win one, if you sign up. And thank you for reading this. If you want to order The Jerusalem Puzzle or The Istanbul Puzzle there are links to the right.
This is the third in a series of four posts in the run up to the launch of The Jerusalem Puzzle on ebook December 3rd and in paperback in many countries January 3rd.