Monday, January 28, 2013

SECOND GUESSING

It's not easy second guessing readers....

 

More on that in a second.

I'm down to blogging once a week because I'm trying to finish a work in progress that I started ... I can't even remember when. My BF said I was working out the plot in my head as early as December 2006. She thinks I waited another 18 months before I started the actual writing part. I keep her up to date so she can remind me later. 

Holy Chicken Fingers! That means... (counting on fingers) ooh, not good. It took me 4 years to write 39 thousand words. I know this because I recorded the symbol 39K on my calendar December 31, 2012. Which was last month if I'm not mistaken.

Now for the good part!

As of today I have 56,148 words written!

That's why I've been so behind in visiting your blog and leaving a stunning and brilliant comment. I understand you don't mind if I blog less than once a week, but I don't want you forgetting about me. I know ... who could forget about ME! Well, my own mother used to call me by my sister's name -- a lot. She even called me by my brother's name once or twice. Not a pretty picture, I can tell you.

Speaking of picture -- Picture this: Joylene (me) sitting at the monitors below for hours on end, wracking her brain, composing the most prudent of prose, half-starving (husband cooks breakfast), and...


Dang, I can't remember what I wanted to say. 

Okay -- ignore that first part. 

What I wanted to blog about today is actually me posing a question to you. Oh! Now I remember what I wanted to say. I'm writing and writing, chapter after chapter when suddenly (chapter 16 to be precise) my antagonist presence himself. Okay, not him exactly, more like a totally different character called Sergeant Harry Byron Bradstreet, decorated staff sergeant during the Gulf War who happens to dislike the antagonist and his son. They're gangster from the east end of London. But that's a story for another time.

The question of the day is:
  
Do you think chapter 16 is too late to introduce the antagonist in a suspense thriller?

I know, I know. Sometimes I take a long time getting to the point. Now maybe you understand why I was often referred to as Verbal-Diarrhea-Jo as a kid? (My dad called me Josephina the laughing hyena)

Anyway, it's a good thing I don't write like I talk. 

Come to think of it, my English Professor back at Simon Fraser University said that very thing once.... 

Maybe I'll move chapter 16 up a few chapters?

40 comments :

  1. You've made some progress!
    I don't write thrillers, so no idea if that is too late. Sorry!

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    1. Thanks, Alex. I think the secret is to engage the reader so they don't mind what new stuff you throw at them. Course, I'm guessing.

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  2. I think it might be a little late in the book to introduce him, but I'm not an expert, so take it for what it's worth. I'm confident you'll get it all figured out. :-)

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I'm thinking of moving the chapter forward a bit.

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  3. Hey Joylene,

    Hope you realise I've stopped formulating my next vitally important to your life, posting, just so I could come and comment on your latest must read posting? Do I get an award for this? Cookies?

    You know I'm in total amazement that you counted all those words. That must take ages to do that! I reckon that introducing an antagonist at that stage in your latest novel shouldn't be a problem. Heck, you gave me an idea. I could use a character named, 'Aunt Tagonist'. Whatcha' reckon to that, eh?

    I was going to write some more but I forgot what I was going to type. Who are you? Where am I?

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    1. Gary, you should probably sit down for this:

      You are Klahanie, a space blogger from a far and distant land. Your Queen Penny, the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar was on a highly classified mission to earth and brought you along to translate. But something horrible went wrong and you ended up in Jolly ole England, basking in the snow... and rain. Queen Penny, the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar ... well, let's just say, her mission is -- if she accepts her mission -- is to do some major important films with Tom Cruise, then... well, it's top secret, so you'll have to tune in on another day, or an other, depending which planet you're from. Oops, apparently I've said too much already.

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    2. Good grief,

      Captain's Blog, stardate 2013.1. Queen Penny, Queen of Pluto, has told me that she must not decipher your encrypted message. We do know that we ended up in jolly olde England and noted snow, rain and total lack of rays from the star that allegedly shines upon this third planet. Tom Cruise evidently follows the words of a certain science fiction writer. No, not the one that left a comment on here! What I can state is this. The captain of our starship made a wrong turn at the asteroid belt, was supposed to go to Uranus, instead we ended up in jolly olde England. This comment will blow up in 5, 4, 3, 2......

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    3. Holy Uranus, cap'n! Queen of Pluto! Good grief is right. Didn't Pluto crash at Disney World? Or was it into Disneyland? No matter, your secret is safe with me!

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  4. You could always go back and leave breadcrumbs. :) And don't sweat it about not posting as often. Writing comes first!

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    1. Ah, of course. I should have thought of that. I woulda if my deary husband would only cook dinner. But for some reason he thinks cooking breakfast is good enough. "Show me in the book!" I say!

      Thanks, Carrie!

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  5. That's a pretty good word count this month. My parents had eight kids. I was called a lot of names other than my own. We all just answered to whatever was directed at us.

    I think as long as it works organically in the story you can put them in wherever. But if you can move it up, or leave breadcrumbs as Carrie suggested it might be a good idea.

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    1. Thanks, Sara. I think I'll know better when I'm finished. I actually mention Junior in chapter one, but it's Harry that surprised me. He's my protagonist's alter-ego. So, really my question is a bit batty.

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  6. "Josephina the laughing hyena"...lol. That reminds me of a story my dad always tells about me when I was young. Seemed I liked to talk a lot too...and so did his aunt Alma. He'd always say.."Boy, I'm gonna lock you in a room with Alma and take bets on who out talks the other..." From what I hear, the smart money was on me :)

    As for your plot, I once had a professor tell me to, simply, "Do it when it's time...."

    If it's chapter 16 when you introduce an antagonist...then that's when they need to show up.

    Best of luck!!

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    1. Sounds like a fun family, Mark. Yes, I agree with your professor. Rules are meant to be understood. That way you know best when to change them.

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  7. Hmmm... I wouldn't wait until chapter 16 to introduce the conflict, but if waiting that long to introduce this character works, then go for it! [g]

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    1. Thanks, Lara. I'm going to let it go for now and finish this dang thing before I make anymore big changes. Thanks for visiting.

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  8. Hi Joylene,
    I couldn't offer any sage advice without reading the MS, but perhaps its time to go back an insert a timely red herring?
    ~Just Jill

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    1. Hi Jill. That I did do in the first chapter. Actually, my question is rather redundant. It's Harry that I introduce in chapter 16. He's my protagonist's alter-ego. But it's also the first time Junior is actually in a scene. Other than chapter one, which really doesn't count because it's in the future. See what I mean about rambling? I do that.

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  9. Not sure about chapter sixteen--I guess it also depends on how long your chapters are. I know thriller chapters tend to be shorter, so that might be okay? Maybe a hint or two of him earlier would lead to some good foreshadowing. Whatever you figure out, I'm sure it will be fabulous!! :D And also, I am soooo jealous of your writing space. Wish mine looked so clean!

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    1. I wrote this post late yesterday without giving it much thought. Now that I've had a good night's sleep I realize I have laid down hints of Junior. It's Harry that comes out of the blue. But I rather like Harry, so I'm glad he stopped by.

      Thanks, Adriana. I took the picture for the MLS listings. My space generally isn't that tidy. Haha.

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  10. I think it's a question of how you've used POV in the preceding chapters. If you've stuck only to the Protag's POV then I don't think it matters when you introduce the Antagonist because by the nature of the story we know an antagonist exists and must sooner or later be revealed. In that case, later is probably more natural because the protagonist can't know everything up-front or there would be no conflict.

    On the other hand, if you've used multiple POVs, then I think it gets a little harder to pull off. That is NOT to say that it can't be done or wouldn't work. After all, the protagonist is there to solve a problem, thus the existence of an antagonist is inherent, wherever you reveal him/her/it. However, if, at Ch 16, you suddenly jump into the antagonist's head, then it might feel too abrupt. If you stay out of the antagonist's head, though, I see no reason why it wouldn't work. Patrick O'Brian, for example, only stays in the head of his two main characters. (You know, the two guys from the movie Master and Commader). All the other players, including the antagonists, are revealed through the two protags' thoughts. which allows his antagonists to come and go. O'Brian has antagonists that come to the fore in one book then disappear in the other or only act off-stage. The overriding antagonist, present in all the books, but only rarely on stage is The Admiralty which is rarely on stage, but always a constant threat.

    But you know my philosophy...really good writing is more about feel than keeping to The Rules. If The Rules worked perfectly, we could all conform and be certain of publication.

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    1. And sadly, few people understand just how invaluable your opinion is. I'm challenging myself a bit in this story, Vicki. When I'm done I'll take a closer look after distancing myself for a week or two. I'm so bad at second-guessing my readers. Objectivity seems to be the key. Thanks, Vicki. Hope you're keeping warm.

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  11. Oh, first of all...I love how you "invited" us into your writing space via the photo...and now I can picture you working.

    I saw several really good comments ahead of mine...and I liked the tone about leaving hints or breadcrumbs, as one person put it.

    I am working on a couple of WIPs that have been going for awhile...and a subplot of my contemporary women's piece is a murder mystery, in which I'm hinting at a number of suspects...and by the end, I'm leaving the reader guessing. The character on trial is acquitted...and we don't know who murdered the girl.

    I also did this in the previous novel about another murdered druggie (Embrace the Whirlwind, published); and that cold case came up in this book, too.

    Do you ever leave readers hanging? Since the book is not primarily a mystery, but a snapshot of some real life moments....

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    1. Laurel, I've never left readers hanging. I'm too chicken. Yet, I love when that happens in stories I'm reading. It must be handle just so or what a disaster. Thanks for the idea!

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  12. I think it all depends on story. Does the reader know about the antagonist and the dastardly deeds he's done? Could be ala breadcrumbs. Have you painted a picture of the antagonist previously? Are the other characters rightfully afraid? If so, somewhere between 39K and 56K "may" work. If not, then definitely move it up. Just don't make it a prologue. This is my opinion only, not having read your manuscript.

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  13. Can you go back and drop some hints earlier on in the book? Nothing major just a paragraph or two here and there can help ease the surprise of a new character.

    If it helps, I call my kids by the wrong names all the time.

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    1. Thanks, Elsie. Chapter 16 is quite a switch and I'm wondering if it comes too late. I may place it earlier. The hints are there, but it's the switch in POV that I"m wondering about.

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  14. Love your writing space, and the comment about your hubby cooking YOU breakfast:-) I write YA, and would say that's way too late, but I'm not sure for your genre. I'd say that in all genres, it's important to get into the action ASAP. That doesn't mean he'll have to be introduced sooner, but it does mean you have to give your readers a reason to give a crap by no later than page 15-20, or they'll most likely put it down. Good luck!

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    1. I ended up breaking the chapter down into smaller parts and inserting those throughout the ms. I probably should wait until I'm finished the first draft. Ah well...

      Happy touring, Jamie.

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  15. I agree with Elsie about putting hints about the person earlier in the book.

    I like your office space.

    Happy writing.

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  16. Well, looks like you have all the advice you need here. :) Love the writing space and - a hubby that cooks, What! You've got it made, don't ya?

    :) I'd say it's not to late to actually present the antagonist, but it would be important to leave some bread crumbs along the way. But of course, every story is different. By the time you get it done, you'll know the answer to your question. Good luck with writing.

    Maybe we can trade books for critiques when you done. Course at my current writing speed, you'll probably be done before I am. Post office is keeping me majorly busy.

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    1. Honestly, Cher, I'm slow this time. But if we finish together, swamping is a great idea.

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  17. Oh, I'm afraid I'd have had him in from the beginning, Joylene, but I usually write for children with a shorter attention span. :0) So pleased my tussle with the sillies at Ironbridge Gorge helped you too keep going. And I love these expressions, one friend says 'keep me up' and now I say that to puzzled friends over here....

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    1. Thank you, Carole. I love your sillies any time.

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  18. Hmm, I think, like Carole, I'd have him in from the beginning. When I read a mystery, I challenge myself to figure out who did it by the end of the first few chapters. Sometimes I flip to the end to see if I had it right, then go back and read to the end. A few breadcrumbs should work.

    Thanks for inviting us into your writing world. I can see you typing away.

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    1. Thanks, Kittie. I'm splitting the chapter up and spreading it over the first part of the story.

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  19. Your writing space is so bright! I would love writing there. Plus breakfast to boot??? Awesome. Since I usually get chastised for too much exposition, I'm not the best person to answer your question.

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    1. That's okay, Jenn, I like hearing from you anyway. Hope you have a terrific week.

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