Cliffhangers and keeping the Author Entertained!

Some writers have a 500 point outline written before starting a novel.  I tried that once, and I got so bored I could not finish writing the first chapter.  Although I normally have a hazy outline (and sometimes quite a lot if not all of the end hashed out) I purposely let a lot of things remain up in the air as to how they happen.  Sure I might know Character A needs to sometime get to point B, but the journey is often open ended.  Sometimes if the character is fleshed out I may even alter things because Character A would NEVER go to point B, and then small parts of the whole plot move.  The most important part for me is to find the balance between having some of the plot written in stone so I can foreshadow and make logical character growths towards a specific point, and keeping things fresh so I want to write too.

I think this is also why I prefer to write in either pulp inspired or outright swashbuckling genres, the idea of the unexpected being key in both.  There was a particular chapter that was bogging me down in the currently published book.  It had very needed exposition, and a lot of things that moved the plot along and rewarded earlier development in the characters.  The problem was, it was boring to write.  If it’s boring to write, I am betting its boring to read. I went back over the chapter 4 times, and kept re writing it. The chapter was no longer boring to read, but I had run out of the “steam” I had earlier for the chapter. I wanted to move on to the next one, but it would not have made any sense to stop where I was. So what did I do?  I had the character thrown out of a castle.

It actually fits with the overarching plot, and the defenestration was going to happen to that character later, after trust was built.  In the end it was simply more fun to have them thrown out early, and unexpectedly.  I have gotten a lot of positive  (and a little WTF?!?! are they dead?) feedback about this scene, and it rejuvenated my want to keep writing more chapters.  I think that’s one of things a lot of writers do not talk about, the fact that as they are writing it, they are readers also.  Granted it’s different since the writer is more likely to know all of what is going on, but the author is just one more reader that does need to be entertained.

When writing this series and the other larger book I will be rereleasing soon, I felt the excitement the writers of the pulps in the early twentieth century felt and some of the early comic books, too.  Cliffhangers reminds me of the old 60’s Batman shows, that kept kids wanting to return to the “same Bat Time” and “same Bat Channel”, and it does not even have to be at the end of your book.  If you have not read the book however I do of course leave you at the end with a pretty giant doozy of a cliffhanger.

Today’s  Poll

First a little background. I am releasing a new fantasy epic.  It’s being re-edited as we speak, and it will be a big one book door stopper.  Well, electronic door stopper.  Anyway, it’s original title was the name of the island where the whole story takes place. It is certainly accurate.  However, my current book has a jargon name.  When I tell people about the book, and they seem interested they often ask for the title.  After I do I get a blank look, because it’s not the sort of thing they will remember unless they write it down, and there is no descriptiveness to it.  This has made me wonder about whether or not to keep the title name for the new book as is, or to change it.  Without going into specifics, here is the poll

What should I name the fantasy epic that is to be realeased soon?

1)Keep it the name of the island it takes place in.

2)Name it something indicative of the plot.

3)Name it something indicative of the “feel” of the book.

4)Go poetic.  Island in the Sea of Time type thing, but not that one.

As for a world tidbit, in this world the heavier and utilitarian cutlass is being used alongside the thin and more dueling oriented rapier.  Most noble Houses have the nobles themselves using rapiers (for the only time they will normally ever need to defend themselves is in a duel) and bodyguards and soldiers and pirates use cutlasses.  This is not universal, and one of the original Captain Bloodeyes was well known as using rapiers when boarding ships and then challenging the opposing captain to duels.

One shot Muskets are used in the book too, but after they are shot they are useless.  The battles in this universe tend to be up close and do not give one time to reload.  Many soldiers keep at least a pair of muskets loaded before combat for that reason.

Keep thsoe questions coming and by the next blog (or two) I should have something specific to announce having to do with some other great writers!


About mdkenning

E-book clockpunk fantasy author View all posts by mdkenning

4 responses to “Cliffhangers and keeping the Author Entertained!

  • amkenning

    don’t ask me my opinion on titles unless you have a few for me to choose between. actual titles. not *types* of titles. I *suck* at naming things.

    • mdkenning

      I made this one more vague an on types of titles for now. Once that is narrowed down, I can start taking suggestions and eventual voting for actual titles. I wanted to get a head start on having the cover artist work on the cover, but an actual title to a book will help her alot 🙂

  • Lady Rose

    This reminded me of the fact that my degree is English Literature. I am far to used to the whole over analyzing stuff and finding symbolism everywhere. Thus my vote of go with “feel” tho plot would also apply. Poetic doesnt always make sense.

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