12 Sep

Today, my husband and I will be attending the last of the Shakespeare Festival’s summer plays. I’ve looked forward to this for weeks. If you’ve never attended one of these outdoor events, it’s a wonderful evening of theater preceded by a picnic with wine, cheese, and bread or whatever you choose to bring.

 As I was trying to think of a subject for the blog, the word anticipation popped into my head. And, naturally, because it’s a blog with writers, I thought of how important anticipation is in any story. Many of my writer friends have gone from writing romance or women’s fiction to writing erotica. In talking to one of the more successful erotica writers, she told me, for her books, it isn’t about the actual acts but about anticipation.

Roller Coaster

 My books for children don’t take on the same subjects, of course, but anticipation is a big part of the stories I write for them (at least that’s what I’m aiming for). Why? Because anticipation builds tension and tension moves the reader forward. Sounds easy, huh? It isn’t.

In a class I took, the theme was building tension through each scene. I’m a pantser, so classes like this are agony for me. But if I force myself to try and think of my story in scenes instead of flowing moments, I sometimes see how I can build a better story.

What do you do to make a better, faster moving story?


Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Idaho


10 responses to “Anticipation

  1. marsharwest

    September 12, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    Well, no comments on the “anticipation” focus of your post, Judith. My mind was instantly back to times we attended Shakespeare in the Park when our girls were young. Yes, we had the blanket and the goodies in the cooler and the wine and (I don’t remember what the girls drank. Obviously not wine. LOL I’ll have to ask them.) The sounds of the bards words lilting through the night air in that wonderful British accent. Laughter with friends in attendance.
    Whipping a fan back and fourth so as not to expire from the heat. Or carrying in the plastic trash bags to spread on the ground after an unexpected rain left lakes before we put down the blankets. Then swatting at giant mosquitoes, which were having a banquet on all of us sitting under the stars.
    Ah, yes. Those were the days. It was good to be young. Everyone should get to experience this. Thanks for reminding me of those fun times.

  2. Judith Keim

    September 12, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    Marsha, glad you stopped by. Our Shakespeare theater is a little different from yours in that food is catered and the seats are comfortable, etc. but the thrill of seeing a play in the outdoors is still there! And, yes, one can hear the cry of birds or the occasional airplane overhead, adding to the experience. Love it! Thanks for sharing your memories.

  3. Corina Mallory

    September 12, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    This is very relevant to my interests 🙂 A few things that I try to keep in mind while writing: (1) the mystery cycle of set-up/reveal. In a romance for example, the overarching mystery the author sets up is how these two people you’ve introduced are going to find a HEA together. But along the way you set up smaller mysteries: why does the heroine hate x? Why does the hero assume Y? If the heroine hates her job, what’s keeping her there? And those small mysteries and the anticipation (see what I did there?) of those small reveals help keep the plot moving and, hopefully, the reader interested. (2)The importance of sentence structure. It’s amazing how changing the length of sentences can speed up or slow down the pace of a scene and build or release tension.

    • Judith Keim

      September 12, 2013 at 10:13 AM

      Love it, Corina! You’re right. All those unanswered questions, handled properly, add to the mystery and our anticipation to find the answers. Great job! What are you working on at the moment? A romance? A mystery? Or are you making a romance mysterious? Seriously, would love to see some of your work…

      • Corina Mallory

        September 12, 2013 at 10:55 AM

        Judy, I actually just decided to put the completely stalled dark romantic suspense I’ve had as a WIP for an embarrassingly long time aside for the nonce. It started as a pantser story and is not working out for me, but I’m too close to it to see where the plot has gone wrong and where it needs to go instead so … I’m starting something new! I’ve spent too long trying to force myself to finish this damn book and it’s made me resentful so I’m going to see if being a plotter works better. (And maybe if I have more luck with a slightly lighter tone.) I’m still trying to decide which story idea I want to build out. It will definitely be a romance with a geeky beta hero and a kick-ass alpha heroine because that’s what I’m in the mood for, but everything else is up in the air. I’d be happy to send you some of my stalled work if you really want to read it 🙂 I think it’s got promise, it’s just not right for me right now.

  4. Judith Keim

    September 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Your new start sounds good Corina… If, when you get started you’d like me to take a look I’d be happy to or if you want me to read the old stuff, I’d be happy to…

  5. Janis McCurry

    September 12, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    I try to get inside of my characters’ emotions and feel what they are feeling, whether it’s fear, excitement, or anticipation. It seems stronger if it’s internal, IMO, rather than say, a car racing towards them, and describing it or the way the tires are throwing up gravel, etc.

  6. Judith Keim

    September 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Good thinking, Janis. The excitement is in feeling the same emotions as the characters. Love that feeling when I’m reading a good book.

  7. Peggy Staggs

    September 17, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    In mystery anticipation is so important. A really good story has it on more than one level. I love it at the end when it all comes together.

  8. maryvine

    September 19, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    I’d say, don’t get off on a tangent like I did with my first manuscript, I guess.


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