Monday, December 7, 2009

Recommended Read: "Conflict, Action & Suspense"

I'm the kind of person who reads Strunk & White and Write Right for fun. (Also because I'm paranoid that I break grammar laws all the time, and I want to make sure I'm breaking them, er, properly.)

This week, as I sprint toward the finish line of my current project (goal is to finish the rough draft by December 31st), I decided to flip through William Noble's "Conflict, Action & Suspense." Even so-called quiet novels can benefit from the examples Noble uses, and I love that he refers to both classic and modern books, as well as film masters like Hitchcock, to make his points in a simple manner.

Pacing, tension, atmosphere, dialogue and transitions are covered, but at the moment, the section on "Endings" is particularly relevant to me. Noble warns that once the conflict ends, the story is over, so you've gotta be careful not to keep writing just to tie up every single loose end; instead, try to trust that your reader will extrapolate the smaller points and feel satisfied when the main conflict is resolved.


  1. I tend to make my endings too abrupt. My betas (and then Sara) all wanted MORE wrap up. I've noticed that kids books often have a lot of wrap up at the end. (Harry Potter and Percy Jackson go on for 3 or 4 chapters after the main conflict is resolved). Why is this?

  2. Good question! Maybe it's a genre style thing? Noble mentions that certain styles lend themselves to a more gradual halt, whereas books that have been almost non-stop action can't really go that route without having it seem unnatural, or breaking a contract with the reader. It's a tricky balance that I'm also struggling with.

  3. I may need to check out that book. The "conflict" one. Sounds like I could use a few pointers from it :)

  4. Thanks for commenting, Voidwalker!

    What type of project are you working on at the moment?