Monday, March 21, 2011

Sustaining Curiosity

First words, sentences and chapters.

In crafting a narrative there is an extensive amount of emphasis that is placed on the opening of the piece. Perfecting the hook of a narrative is one of the most important components of a piece but when the hook is set what comes next?

Whether it's the theme, conflict or the gestalt of the piece that piques the interest of an audience the piece doesn't end after the hook. The creator must continue to evolve their piece but also match the design of the hook. In many instances a vast amount of effort will go into refining the first chapter or hook so that an audience will be engrossed.  Unfortunately the same effort is neglected for the proceeding chapters.

To sustain the curiosity of the audience it is necessary to orchestrate the premise in such a way as to nudge the reader to follow a character through a series of events. This is no different than taking the first hook and replicating it across pages where every page leads to the next.

The standard methods of creating narrative flow ensure cohesion between components however, the most notable methods to maintain interest in the piece is to never duplicate a situation or event. Every chapter should open with a new situation and not re-visit the events that brought the character to that point.

A supporting method to continue the cohesive flow of the narrative is to end each chapter with the hook, a 'cliffhanger.' If an audience is continually asking 'what is next' then it is possible to sustain their curiosity.

Every narrative is it's own mystery carefully crafted to sustain the curiosity of the reader. Like a guide casting breadcrumbs to lead their party to an unknown destination, the creator keeps the plot hidden to give them a chance to speculate. When the final pinnacle is reached it will ever the more breath-taking.


Michele Shaw said...

Great post! Exactly, maintaining what you work so hard to establish at the beginning is the biggest challenge to writing IMHO. I'm constantly worried about having boring/slow sections. It's a constant struggle:)

Amber said...

I was just reading about this recently in a class I'm taking. You're right about emphasis being put on the hooks, but needing to keep up the momentum to deliver for the remainder of the chapter, scene, etc. I have found myself doing the 'cliffhanger' to end each chapter. It's nice to see you mention it.

In the class I mentioned, we were discussing character growth throughout the manuscript. People wouldn't want to see a stagnant character, and that ties in with new situations and not re-visiting events.

It's like puzzle pieces coming together. :)

PW.Creighton said...

Michele, thanks for dropping by. Heh, ears are burning. The problem is slow sections can exist, we need to define them as 'uninteresting sections' not every narrative has non-stop action. We just need to make sure the same care and style that was put into the tone can be reflected in the remaining sections.

Amber, yeah, the problem with too many 'cliffhangers' is that they become predictable. Kind of like a TV show if they end every episode the same way it's no longer entertaining. That's why it's best to mix your types of 'cliffhangers' with new information uncovered, precarious situations, even the characters discussing what comes next. Each is a form of cliffhanger but if these sort of events traverse the pages than you have a 'page turner' not a pile of "cliffhangers."

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