Monday, March 12, 2012

Writing Page-Turning Fiction: My Review of CONFLICT AND SUSPENSE byJames Scott Bell

Photo Credit: Writer's Digest Books

I've always loved reading really captivating fiction. A few years ago I sped through a Ted Dekker novel in under two days, and every time a new Dekker novel comes out I can't wait to dive into the story. It's the same way with Travis Thrasher, Mike Dellosso, Robin Parrish, and it'll be that way with the new J.K. Rowling novel. I love stories that keep me captivated and turning pages. I've also always wanted to be a writer of those kinds of stories.

James Scott Bell tells us what every successful story requires in his aptly titled book CONFLICT AND SUSPENSE. I've read a lot of books on writing, and Bell's books always stand out as some of the best because of the clarity and practicality of them. This book is especially helpful in its focus on developing a page-turning story. After all, if someone starts reading your story, ideally you want them to have a difficult time finding a place to stop in the story and put it down.

I love Bell's definition of the goal of a novel as providing "a satisfying emotional experience for the reader." Conflict is crucial to this because we experience conflict in our every day lives and conflict connects us with characters in a story, specifically how they deal with that conflict. Bell looks at conflict in every element of writing a story from the structure, to the setting, to dialogue. If you're wanting to know how to craft a story that keeps readers interested, Bell will clearly walk you through how to do it.

Bell describes suspense as rising out of conflict. His discussions of stressing the tension and cliffhangers are helpful to developing suspense in a story. He also discusses using setting specifically.

Throughout the book Bell uses several examples of popular novels and movies to illustrate what he's talking about. This helps to see the concepts as they've actually been put to use.

CONFLICT AND SUSPENSE is a great guide on writing a complete page-turning story. Reading it made me want to sit down and start fleshing out some new story ideas, which is a perfect result of reading this book.

I received this book for free for review from Writer's Digest Books

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