ReWriteDr Tip: Use a “Ticking Clock” to make it a page turner.

Use a ‘ticking clock’ to build suspense.  A ticking clock is a way to give the story tension and drama.  It makes the reader want to turn the page to see what happens next.  Give your main character a task to accomplish before a certain time or there will be dire consequences.

Hitchcock gave the example:  A man and a woman walk into a room, sit at a table, talk for a bit and then BOOM! the room blows up.  That’s straight forward action.  To build suspense: A man walks into the room, places a bomb under the table and leaves.  Now when that man and woman walk in, sit down and start a conversation, we wait on the edge of seats to see what happens.  Tick, tick, tick.

EXAMPLES:  See if you don’t find each second version more compelling.

STRAIGHT FORWARD ACTION: A man has to find a job.

MORE SUSPENSFUL: A man has to find a job before his wife gives birth in one week.

STRAIGHT FORWARD ACTION: A woman’s child is kidnapped.

MORE SUSPENSFUL: A woman must comply with kidnap demands or her child will be killed in five hours.

STRAIGHT FORWARD ACTION: A bachelor wants to get married.

MORE SUSPENSFUL: A bachelor will lose his entire fortune if he is not married by tomorrow.

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