Years ago, I read a book titled What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. It was the first book that I truly could not put down; I read the entire book in one sitting. When I finished the last page, I turned to the first page and began reading again—but this time, I analyzed how the author kept me turning those pages long after I should have put the book down and attended to other, more pressing, matters.
I found that each chapter left me at a cliffhanger. I try to use that same method in my own writing, and my fans tell me that they also find themselves reading far into the night because they simply couldn’t bear to stop. I try to begin each chapter in the middle of a scene and I end it with a sentence or two that leads to the next suspenseful chapter. The result is I don’t waste time leading the reader through all the background: Vicki drove to this place, she said “hello, how are you?”, etc. That isn’t suspenseful unless something actually happens to her in the car or in the parking lot or while she’s introducing herself.
Most of my books are going to be in the vicinity of 300 pages long. Rather than begin the book with an eye toward the end, I work toward a climactic scene in the middle of the book. That scene is always going to be pivotal and from that point forward, it’s going to propel the reader through the rest of the book like they’ve been launched from a cannon.
So the first half of the book sets the characters, the locales and all the pieces of the puzzle that lead to that first climactic scene. It must be fast-paced because now I am writing toward something that’s going to occur around page 150. Once I have written that chapter, I am now thrust toward the ending and an even larger climax that will occur around 120 pages later.
In writing suspense, words can’t be wasted. I choose action over inactivity and dialogue over thoughts.
Each of my books contains these elements and each time one of my new releases is reviewed, I get the same feedback: the reader couldn’t put it down.
Dylan Maguire returns to his native Ireland with psychic spy Vicki Boyd. Their mission: to locate and extract a CIA Agent who disappeared in Dublin while on the trail of a known terrorist. But when Dylan receives word that his grandmother is dying, he is plunged into a past he thought he’d left behind forever. His mission and the dark secrets he’d sought to keep hidden begin to merge into an underworld that could cost him his life. He must now confront his past demons and the real reason he left Ireland—while Vicki harbors a secret of her own.
Suspense Magazine says, “p.m.terrell’s writing is powerfully written and masterfully suspenseful; you have to hang on for the ride of your life.” Midwest Book Review says the Black Swamp Mysteries series is “page-turning action, unforgettable characters, breathtaking descriptions and unexpected plot twists.” And syndicated reviewer Marcia Freespirit says the series is “riveting, spell-binding, sexy and intense!”
Excerpt from Dylan's Song:
The bogs were no place to be during the witching hour.
Dylan had grown up with stories of the bogs at night. The ground percolated; it lived and it breathed. There had been many a time when he was harvesting peat in broad daylight that he’d heard a whisper at his ear or felt hot breath on his neck, only to find there was no one near. Now as he rode his horse in silence, he felt that presence tenfold; there were eyes watching them. The intermittent tuffs of heather swayed in the growing storm and he found himself watching them with narrowed eyes, waiting for the plants to morph into sinister creatures that claimed this land after the sun went down.
He knew there was a simple reason why animals were required in lieu of an all-terrain vehicle and he was glad Sam had taken this unique land into consideration when planning the mission. He could feel the hooves beneath him sinking into the spongy earth; a wheeled vehicle wouldn’t have stood a chance, especially as they ventured from the area farmed for its peat to one far less stable.
A mist began; a slow, fine spray that he knew well. One moment the air was still and dry and the next, as though they’d passed through a curtain, the air swirled around them, the moist haze further inhibiting their ability to see. It was said many a man lost his internal compass in the Irish mist; it taunted as it grew into monstrous shapes, turning the landscape into something foreign and active.
P.M. Terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 16 books. Vicki's Key, one of the first books in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, was one of five finalists in the 2012 International Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense) and 2012 USA Best Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense.) River Passage, an historical work based on her ancestor's migration to Fort Nashborough in 1779-1780, won the 2010 Best Fiction & Drama Award. The Nashville (TN) Metropolitan Government Archives determined it to be so historically accurate that they entered the original manuscript into their Archives for future researchers and historians.
Prior to becoming a full-time author in 2002, terrell founded and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her clients included the United States Secret Service, CIA, Department of Defense and federal and local law enforcement. Her specialty is in the areas of computer crime and computer intelligence. Her experience in these areas have greatly influenced her books' plots.
You can find P.M. Terrell on Twitter @pmterrell, on Facebook and at her Facebook author page.
Leave a comment for your chance to win this lovely Celtic cross necklace. For more chances to win, stop by these other blogs:
3/18/2013 SECOND STOP Sandra's Blog
3/19/2013 Andi's Book Reviews
3/20/2013 Christy McKee Writes for Women in the Sweet Spot of Life
3/21/2013 The Muse
3/21/2013 SECOND STOP Full Moon Dreaming
3/22/2013 Out of the Lockbox
3/22/2013 SECOND STOP The Cerebral Writer
3/25/2013 Fiction Writing and Other Oddities
3/26/2013 Hywela Lyn - Romance That's 'Out Of this World'
3/27/2013 The Write to Read
3/28/2013 Desiree Holt Tells All
3/29/2013 Happily Ever After
4/1/2013 Deal Sharing Aunt
4/2/2013 Janna Shay's Fair Play
4/3/2013 Beckstar Reviews
4/4/2013 Long and Short Reviews
4/5/2013 A Writer's Life
4/8/2013 Writing into the Sunset
4/8/2013 SECOND STOP Hope Dreams. Life... Love
4/9/2013 See Jane Publish
4/9/2013 SECOND STOP LizaOConnor
4/10/2013 Writers and Authors
4/11/2013 Celticlady's Reviews