Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time for Looking Back and Looking Ahead!

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2014 exceed your expectations in every way!  

First, thank you.
I just want to say, first of all, that I'm so grateful to all the readers of my posts on various blogs and my two fiction-writing guides. And a special thanks to those of you who were kind enough to take the time to write a review of one or both of my books on Amazon! Thanks so much, all of you, for enriching 2013 for me, and I hope my books and blog posts have provided you with lots of helpful tips to make your fiction stronger!

And thank you to the writers I've worked with this year to make your novels and short stories more intriguing. I've enjoyed our interactions and reading your exciting stories!

It's the time for looking back on the past year and looking forward to the next one. How did 2013 go for you? What are you planning and hoping for in 2014?

Considering it has the number 13 in it, the year 2013 wasn't at all unlucky for me. I had a great year, in fact. And I've got some major lifestyle changes coming up in 2014! It promises to be a big year for me! Scroll down for those.

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2013 FOR JODIE: "It was a very good year..."

Travel and presentations:
I managed to continue travelling to various places in North America in 2013, starting with a trip to Cuba in January, then Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in February, Colorado in March, Boston in May, NYC in July, Nashville in August, then visiting with my family in various parts of BC, Canada, in September. All stimulating and fun!

I participated in two panels at Left Coast Crime's conference in Colorado Springs in March and enjoyed getting together there with my blog pals at Crime Fiction Collective. In May I attended Grub Street's 2013 conference in Boston, The Muse and the Marketplace. In July, I was off to Craftfest and Thrillerfest in New York City for the fourth time, where I participated in a panel on revision and self-editing and sold a lot of books, especially Writing a Killer Thriller. Then I was on a similar panel in August at Killer Nashville in Nashville, TN, and I also presented a 90-min. workshop on point of view at Killer Nashville - and sold lots of books. Then, during a trip to BC in Canada, I presented to a writers' group and an editors' group. As well, I gave two talks, one on first pages and one on self-publishing, to my local writers' group, the London Writers Society.

Both books out in print, too:

And between traveling, presenting, and editing, I managed to revise and expand both of the books in my Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction series and publish them both in trade paperback format. Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power came out in print in March, then I published a significantly updated and expanded version of my Writing a Killer Thriller also in paperback in early July, just in time to sell at Thrillerfest in NYC. I love having these books in both e-book and print, and sales indicate that readers do, too!

Book Award:
And one of my books, Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power, won an award! It received a Silver Medal in the Florida Authors & Publishers President's Book Awards, in the reference category.

Magazine Articles:
I was interviewed in Southern Writers Magazine in the Sept./Oct. 2013 issue, and had two of my articles on tips for adding suspense, tension and intrigue published in Suspense Magazine.

Judge for Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards:
I evaluated books again for this contest. I received 25 books to review and was only allowed to choose one to go on to the next level. I submitted written evaluations for all of them, to go on to the authors.

I've got about three-quarters of my next book in the editor's guide series, Immerse the Readers in Your Story World. I plan to publish it by April.

I've been busy blogging all year, too. After guest-blogging on the award-winning blog, The Kill Zone, for a year, I was welcomed on Oct. 7 as an official member and biweekly contributor (every 2nd Monday). I've continued to blog on Crime Fiction Collective on the alternate Mondays, and I also guest-blog occasionally on other great blogs for writers, like D.P. Lyle's Writer's Forensics Blog, Elizabeth Craig's blog, Mystery Writing is Murder, Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi's blogs, and others. And of course I still post here whenever I can!

Links to some of my recent blog posts:

Crime Fiction Collective: 10 Tips for Attracting a Top-Notch Editor for Your Story  

The Writer’s Forensics Blog: Thrillers vs. Mysteries 

The Bookshelf Muse: Let the Characters Tell the Story 

Editing & Critiquing:
And of course I've been hard at work editing fiction manuscripts and also doing critiques of the first 10-50 pages of novels. I specialize in editing thrillers and other fast-paced fiction and I love my freelance editing, especially since I get to pick and choose the manuscripts I work on! I've had the privilege of working with some very talented writers in the last few years, so I find my work really satisfying and rewarding. And I love the interactions and friendships I've made with the authors whose stories I helped polish up to get ready to successfully publish or submit to agents.


The big move:
Kelowna, BC
My biggest news is that I'm planning to move across the country in May or June, and am busy decluttering and downsizing a 3-bedroom house with a full (and filled!) basement in preparation for the long-distance
move and setting up an apartment in Kelowna, BC, Canada. So of course every spare moment on the weekends is spent sorting through stuff and deciding what to give away, what to sell, what to toss, and what to take with me. I'm excited because I'll be near family and old friends again, and the area, the Okanagan valley, is gorgeous, with large lakes, low mountains, fruit orchards and vineyards everywhere!

Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada

Presenting at various conferences in 2014:
- January 24-26: SDSU Writers' Conference, in San Diego, CA. Two workshops: Deep Point of View; Revision and Self-Editing.
- May 16-17: Tallahassee Writers' Conference, in Tallahassee, Florida. Two workshops.
- June 18-24, RomCon University, Denver, Colorado. Two workshops: Deep POV; Revision & Editing.
- August - When Words Collide, Calgary, Alberta
- Sept. 25-27 - Florida Heritage Book Festival & Writers Conference, St. Augustine, Florida

Next book out!
I'm excited about my third book in the editor's guide series, Immerse the Readers in Your Story World, which will be out in print in the next few months!

And more editing.
And I'm looking forward to finishing fiction manuscripts I'm editing and collaborating with some new writers in 2014!

Here's hoping 2014 will be your most creative, productive, and satisfying year ever!
How was 2013 for you? What are your plans for 2014? Please share in the comments below. 

Jodie Renner, a freelance fiction editor specializing in thrillers and other fast-paced fiction, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: WRITING A KILLER THRILLER and STYLE THAT SIZZLES & PACING FOR POWER (Silver Medalist in the FAPA Book Awards, 2013). Both titles are available in e-book and paperback. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Jodie also blogs alternate Mondays on The Kill Zone blog and Crime Fiction Collective blog.

To subscribe to Jodie’s “Resources for Writers” newsletter (published about 4-10 times a year), please click on this link: http://eepurl.com/C9dKD

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pros, Cons, & Steps for Publishing Your Own Book on Amazon

by Jodie Renner, fiction editor and author of writing guides      

(updated 2017)

I get a lot of questions from newbie / aspiring authors interested in self-publishing their book. Many don't realize that it's free and relatively easy to publish your book on Amazon as a Kindle e-book. And fast! It takes about 12 hours to appear on amazon.com for sale, and you receive your 70% royalties every month!
I’ve published seven books myself on Amazon since July 2012, as e-books for Kindle, and have published five of them in trade paperback as well. 
Here are some pros, cons, and tips, based on my experience:


- Amazon sells more books than all the other publishers combined.

- It’s free to publish on Amazon.
- You’re in control. You control the whole process from start to finish and retain all the rights to your book.

- It’s fast. You don’t have to wait around for agents to respond. You upload the book and it’s ready to sell in 12 hours or less. You can start earning money right away while you write the next one!

- More and more people are buying e-books. You can take a Kindle or other e-reader anywhere, with more than a thousand books inside it! And e-books are quick and easy to purchase from wherever you/they are – with one-click buying, the e-book appears on your/their Kindle within seconds.
- Readers can also read your e-books on their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Just download the free app from Amazon.

 - You get 70% of the list price of your book (if it’s priced between $2.99 and $9.99; otherwise 35%), as opposed to 10-15% from publishers – IF you can get an agent and publisher to accept your book!
- You don’t need to write a whole book. You can publish a short story or article and sell it for $0.99 (you get 35% if it’s under $2.99)

- You get to control the pricing, so you can raise or lower the price of your e-book whenever you want, to boost sales.

- It’s easy to upload your book to Amazon and you can revise it as frequently as you want and just keep replacing the one that’s there with a better version.

- You can check your sales stats daily (or hourly) and watch them rise. You can also view stats graphs over time (and geographically) to see what’s working and what isn’t to promote sales.

- You receive your royalty payments every month (one month’s delay), as opposed to annually or quarterly from publishers or distributors.

Amazon helps promote your book, through your book’s Amazon page, emails they send out mentioning it, and their feature, “Customers who bought this item also bought…”

- If you enroll in KDP Select, you earn money when people borrow your book, you can offer it free for up to 5 days out of every 90 as a promotion, and you can take advantage of other great Kindle promo ideas, like their Kindle Countdown Deals, and their Matchbook program, where, if readers buy or have bought the print version of your book, they can buy the e-book for free.


- You’re in charge of quality control! So you need to guard against publishing it prematurely. Make sure it’s polished and ready! The competition is fierce out there, and reviewers can be very critical if you publish a book full of typos or otherwise hasty or amateurish writing. Don't shoot yourself in the foot and damage your reputation by publishing a less-than-professional book.

- Although publishing it is free, you’ll still need to pay for editing, a cover design, and probably formatting. And you may decide to hire someone to promote it. You should have a budget of at least $1,500 to spend on all this. $2K or more is more realistic.

- You’ll need to do most of your own marketing and promoting (although Amazon does a lot, too), or hire a publicist. But traditional publishers now expect their authors to do a lot of their own promoting, too. Mid-list published authors basically are expected to do all or most of their own promoting, including paying for it.


1. Write with wild abandon.

2. Revise. See my articles “Revising, Editing, and Polishing Your Novel,” “How to Save a Bundle on Editing Costs,” and “How to Slash Your Word Count by 20-50% – and tighten up your story without losing any of the good stuff!”

3. Run it past a critique group or “beta” (volunteer) readers (smart people who read in your genre – don’t need to be writers themselves).

4. Revise again, based on feedback you’ve received from your critique group or beta readers (using your own judgment on what advice to accept and what to ignore, of course).

5. Find and hire a reputable freelance editor who specializes in fiction (if that’s what you write) and reads your genre.

6. Revise, based on the editor’s suggestions.

7. Hire a formatter (or do it yourself if you know a lot about formatting). See my article, “Basic Formatting of Your Manuscript (Formatting 101)”.

8. Hire someone to design an eye-catching, professional looking book cover. Be sure the title and author can be read on the thumbnail size posted on Amazon. Google “book cover designers.” or check the list of Resources on The Kill Zone blog.

9. Publish on Amazon.com, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

- Decide on two categories, add a great book description, think of 7 keyword phrases (search words), and write an interesting author bio, with links and a photo.

- Once it's been up for a while as an e-book and you've had a chance to tweak it if it needs it, consider publishing it in print as well. That's basically free, too. It's Print on Demand, so the books aren't printed until people (or you) order some. But it's surprisingly quick when they/you do!

10. In the meantime, you’ll have already been building up a social network and platform:

- Facebook, Twitter, author website, blog, guest blog posts for others

- Writers’ groups and organizations, Goodreads – lists, giveaways

I suggest, as a minimum, a Facebook page and either a website or a blog. If you don’t have time to blog regularly, create an author website instead.

11. Start actively promoting your book – but don’t be annoying. By the way, Amazon does an excellent job of promoting your book for you, for free, especially if you enroll in KDP Select. See my article on Crime Fiction Collective, "Thanks, Amazon, for Promoting my Book for Free!"

12. Start writing the next one. Or publish a short story based on characters from your book and price it at $0.99. Your second book will help sell your first one.

Good luck with all this! I look forward to seeing your book on sale!

Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: FIRE UP YOUR FICTION,  CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS, and WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, as well as two clickable time-saving e-resources, QUICK CLICKS: Spelling List and QUICK CLICKS: Word Usage. She has also organized two anthologies for charity: VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS – Stories and Poems about Life in BC’s Interior, and CHILDHOOD REGAINED – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers. Website: www.JodieRenner.com Facebook. Amazon Author Page.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Checklist for Before You Submit or Publish Your Novel

I recently discovered an excellent article by James Scott Bell, published on The Kill Zone blog in 2010. Here's the beginning of Bell's post, with a link to the rest.

Before You Submit

by James Scott Bell

The May/June issue of Writer's Digest has a sidebar from YA editor Anica Morse Rissi, wherein she gives nine things you can do to elevate your manuscript before submission.

The list is right on, not only for getting a manuscript ready to submit to agents or editors, but also if you're considering self-publishing. So I'm going to give you the tips with my own commentary on them.

1. Revise, revise, revise.

As the author of a whole book on the revision process, I'm not going to quibble with this one. You can, however, become "revision obsessed" and spend way too long on a project. In my book I give a process for getting over that, but you can just as well come up with one of your own, so long as you eventually send your work out. Not too soon, but not too late, either.

2. Start with conflict and tension.

This is perhaps the most important tip of all. Some of our highest traffic here at TKZ has come from posts on what to do -- and what not to do -- on first pages, as well as the numerous first page critiques we've done. Search those out in the archives. Now, conflict or tension does not have to be "big." It can really be any sort of disturbance to the Lead's ordinary world.

3. Don't start with backstory.

An obvious corollary to #2. Backstory is best when it is delayed, although little sprinkles can be added to the first pages for depth. Just make the action primary up front.

4. Give the readers something to wonder about.
For the rest of these great tips, with Bell's commentary, click HERE.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Key Essentials for An Authentic YA (Or Adult) Voice

by Jordan Dane

Purchased from Fotolia by Jordan Dane

This excellent article by Jordan Dane appears in full on The Kill Zone blog. Click on the link at the end to go to the rest of the article

On Oct 17th at the KILL ZONE blog, I critiqued the first page of an anonymous author’s work –A Game of Days. Some interesting comments on the YA voice came from this post and I wanted to share more on what I’ve learned from writing for the teen market. My personal epiphanies. 

Writing for the Young Adult (YA) market and capturing the voice of YA is less about word choices (and getting the teen speak down) than it is about getting the age appropriate decisions and attitude right. Urban fantasy or post apocalyptic plots can build on a world that is unique and unfamiliar. Books like the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or the Divergent series by Veronica Roth can have its own voice, so teens are familiar with reading books like this.
When I went looking for solid examples of teen dialogue or introspection to share at a workshop, I searched some top selling YA books, only to find the voice I expected wasn’t there. Sure there are YA books where authors can sound authentically teen, but to keep up the realism for a whole book can be a challenge and an overabundance of “teen speak” can date the banter or be too much for adult readers to catch. (Yes, adults are HUGE readers of YA.)

As you read through this list, think about how each of these tips might also apply to writing ANY voice, even book intended for adults. Many of these tips work for cross-genre writing.
Key Essentials for An Authentic YA Voice:
1.) Use First Person or Deep Point of View (POV)

For the rest of this excellent article, click HERE.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel - Advice from Literary Agents

Here's some interesting advice from literary agents on the opening pages of your novel, compiled by Chuck Samuchino, of Writer's Digest:

 The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

August 6, 2013 by Chuck Sambuchino

This column is excerpted from Guide to Literary Agents, from Writer’s Digest Books.

No one reads more prospective novel beginnings than literary agents.

They’re the ones on the front lines, sifting through inboxes and slush piles. And they’re the ones who can tell us which Chapter One approaches are overused and cliché, as well as which techniques just plain don’t work.

Below find a smattering of feedback from experienced literary agents on what they hate to see the first pages of a writer’s submission. Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!

 False beginnings

“I don’t like it when the main character dies at the end of Chapter One. Why did I just spend all this time with this character? I feel cheated.”

- Cricket Freeman, The August Agency

“I dislike opening scenes that you think are real, then the protagonist wakes up. It makes me feel cheated.”

- Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

 In science fiction

“A sci-fi novel that spends the first two pages describing the strange landscape.”

- Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary


“I’m not a fan of prologues, preferring to find myself in the midst of a moving plot on page one rather than being kept outside of it, or eased into it.”

- Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Most agents hate prologues. Just make the first chapter relevant and well written.”

- Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

“Prologues are usually a lazy way to give back-story chunks to the reader and can be handled with more finesse throughout the story. Damn the prologue, full speed ahead!”

- Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

 Exposition and description

“Perhaps my biggest pet peeve with an opening chapter is when an author features too much exposition – when they go beyond what is necessary for simply ‘setting the scene.’ I want to feel as if I’m in the hands of a master storyteller, and starting a story with long, flowery, overly-descriptive sentences (kind of like this one) makes the writer seem amateurish and the story contrived. Of course, an equally jarring beginning can be nearly as off-putting, and I hesitate to read on if I’m feeling disoriented by the fifth page. I enjoy when writers can find a good balance between exposition and mystery. Too much accounting always ruins the mystery of a novel, and the unknown is what propels us to read further.”

- Peter Miller, PMA Literary and Film Management

“The [adjective] [adjective] sun rose in the [adjective] [adjective] sky, shedding its [adjective] light across the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] land.”

- Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

“I dislike endless ‘laundry list’ character descriptions. For example: ‘She had eyes the color of a summer sky and long blonde hair that fell in ringlets past her shoulders. Her petite nose was the perfect size for her heart-shaped face. Her azure dress — with the empire waist and long, tight sleeves — sported tiny pearl buttons down the bodice. Ivory lace peeked out of the hem in front, blah, blah.’ Who cares! Work it into the story.”

- Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

... and lots more! For more advice on your opening, click HERE:

Check out these links with concrete tips for writing an opening that grabs both readers and agents:

12 Do’s and Don’ts for an Amazing First Page
Those Critical First Five Pages

Set up Your Story in the First Paragraphs

Open Your Novel in Your Protagonist’s Head

Write a Killer Thriller Opening

Also, links to some first-page critiques.

Some First-Page Critiques

by Jodie Renner, editor, author, speaker

As you know, your first page is so critical for hooking readers in and compelling them to keep turning the pages of your novel.

I've been critiquing first paragraphs and first pages for Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi this week over at Writers Helping Writers.

Today, Oct. 24, 2013, I'm critiquing the first page of a novel over at The Kill Zone, one of my group blogs. My first-page critique there is on a novel called The Pink Motorcycle.

See down for links to more first-page critiques I offered here earlier this year.

Some articles with tips for creating a gripping opening to your novel:

Those Critical First Five Pages

Set up Your Story in the First Paragraphs

Open Your Novel in Your Protagonist’s Head

12 Do’s and Don’ts for an Amazing First Page

Write a Killer Thriller Opening

Here are some links to other first-page critiques I've done of novels:


Resources for Writers: First-Page Critique - Mystery-Thriller


Resources for Writers: Critique of First Page - Historical Fiction 


Resources for Writers: Critique of First Page - Western


Resources for Writers: First-Page Critique - Historical Thriller


Resources for Writers: Critique of first page of a novel
FIRST 5 PAGES for Greater Fort Worth Writers:

Jodie Renner, a freelance fiction editor specializing in thrillers and other fast-paced fiction, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: WRITING A KILLER THRILLER and STYLE THAT SIZZLES & PACING FOR POWER (Silver Medalist in the FAPA Book Awards, 2013). Both titles are available in e-book and paperback. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.
To subscribe to Jodie’s Resources for Writers newsletter (published about 4-10 times a year), please click on this link: http://eepurl.com/C9dKD


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Silver Medal Award, and also Giveaway


Style Sizzles Cover w Medal_Large

I’m very pleased to announce that my editor’s guide to writing compelling fiction, Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power, has won a Silver Medal award in the Florida Authors & Publishers President’s Book Awards.

Giveaway_Sizzles_South. Wr. Mag

Also, Southern Writers Magazine is sponsoring a contest where you can win a signed copy of this book.

Enter this draw at


Good luck!
Jodie Renner, a freelance fiction editor specializing in thrillers and other fast-paced fiction, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: WRITING A KILLER THRILLER and STYLE THAT SIZZLES & PACING FOR POWER (Silver Medalist in the FAPA Book Awards, 2013). Both titles are available in e-book and paperback.
For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.
To subscribe to Jodie’s Resources for Writers newsletter, click here:  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Two of my articles in Suspense Magazine

Available on Amazon in e-book or print
by Jodie Renner, editor, author, speaker

I'm pleased to share that Suspense Magazine has published two of my articles to date on various techniques for increasing the tension, suspense, and intrigue in your novel.

Here is the first third of an article of mine published in the August 2013 issue:

Adding Suspense, Tension and Intrigue to Your Story
by Jodie Renner
All genres of fiction, not just thrillers and action-adventures, need tension, suspense, and intrigue to keep readers eagerly turning the pages. And of course, you’ll need to ratchet up the tension and suspense a lot more if you’re writing a fast-paced, nail-biting page-turner.
Some “Big-Picture” Techniques for Adding Suspense:
~ First, make your readers care about your protagonist by creating a likeable, appealing, strong, smart and resourceful but vulnerable character, with some inner conflict. If readers haven’t bonded with your main character, they won’t care what happens to him or her.
~ Create a cunning, frightening villain. Your villain needs to be as clever, determined and resourceful as your protagonist – or even more so. Make him a serious force to be reckoned with!
~ Threaten your protagonist. Now that your readers care about your main character, insert a major threat or dilemma within the first chapter that won’t be resolved until the end. Create an over-riding sentence about this to keep in mind as you’re writing your story: Will (name) survive/stop/find/overcome (difficulty/threat)?
~ Establish a sense of urgency, a tense mood, and generally fast pacing. Unlike cozy mysteries and other more leisurely genres, thrillers and other suspense fiction generally need a tense mood and fast pacing throughout most of the novel, with short “breathers” in between the tensest scenes.
~ Show, don’t tell. Show all your critical scenes in real time, with action, reaction, and dialogue. Show your character’s inner feelings and physical and emotional reactions. Don’t have one character tell another about an important event or scene.
~ Use multiple viewpoints, especially that of the villain. For increased anxiety and suspense, get us into the head of your antagonist from time to time. This way the readers find out critical information the heroine doesn’t know, things we want to warn her about!
~ Keep the story momentum moving forward. Don’t get bogged down in backstory or exposition. Keep the action moving ahead, especially in the first chapter. Then work in background details and other info little by little, on an “as-needed” basis only, through dialogue or flashbacks.
~ Create a mood of unease by showing the main character feeling apprehensive about something or someone or by showing some of the bad guy’s thoughts and intentions.
~ Add in tough choices and moral dilemmas. Devise ongoing difficult decisions and inner conflict for your lead character. Besides making your plot more suspenseful, this will also make your protagonist more complex, vulnerable, and interesting.
... for the rest of this article, go to www.SuspenseMagazine.com and purchase the August 2013 issue, which is full of excellent articles, many by bestselling authors! They also have some free issues available.
And here's about 1/3 to 1/2 of the second article of mine, published in the Sept./Oct. 2013 issue of Suspense Magazine. This one's on foreshadowing to create intrigue.
Amp up the Tension, Suspense, and Intrigue with Foreshadowing
by Jodie Renner
As you’re writing your thriller or other suspense novel, you want to be constantly thinking of ways to provoke reader curiosity and apprehension, so they keep anxiously turning the pages.
Foreshadowing is an excellent technique for adding suspense, especially for the first half of your novel, but it’s one that requires some planning (or backtracking later) and a bit of expertise to really be effective.
What is foreshadowing?
Foreshadowing is about dropping little clues about possible secrets, revelations, complications, and trouble to come. To pique the reader’s interest and keep her reading, hint at dangers lurking ahead. Foreshadowing incites curiosity, anticipation, and worry in the readers, and also prepares them somewhat for the possibility of later occurrences, so lends some credibility when the hinted-at event does occur.
For example, in the opening of The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy’s still in Kansas, the transformation of Miss Gulch into a witch on a broomstick foreshadows her reappearance as Dorothy’s enemy in Oz.
Weave little hints in as you go along, but be subtle about it, and don’t give away the ending. If you make it obvious, it takes away the suspense and intrigue, along with the reader’s pleasure at trying to figure everything out.
Why is foreshadowing important?
Foreshadowing is a way of alerting readers to the possibility of upcoming critical events, of telling them to keep reading because some exciting developments are ahead.
Foreshadowing creates suspense. According to the dictionary, suspense is “a quality in a work of fiction that arouses excited expectation about what may happen.”
If you don’t foreshadow events and developments to come, readers will have no expectations, so no anticipation or worry. Foreshadowing stimulates curiosity and provides intrigue, increasing tension and suspense.
Also, if events and changes are foreshadowed, when they do occur, they seem more credible, not just a random act or something you suddenly decided to stick in there, especially if they’re unexpected. ...
How to use foreshadowing:
Use foreshadowing to lay the groundwork for future tension, to tantalize readers about upcoming critical scenes, confrontations or developments, major changes or reversals, character transformations, or secrets to be revealed.
Foreshadowing to add worry and increase reader engagement
Some ideas for foreshadowing:
Here are some of the ways you can foreshadow events or revelations in your story:
Show a pre-scene or mini-example of what happens in a big way later. The roads are icy and the car starts to skid but the driver manages to get it under control and continues driving, a little shaken and nervous. This initial near-miss plants worry in the reader’s mind. Then later a truck comes barreling toward him and... (or the icy road causes some other kind of accident).
The protagonist overhears snippets of conversation or gossip and tries to piece it all together, but it doesn’t all make sense until later.
Hint at shameful secrets or bad memories your protagonist has been hiding, trying to forget about.
For the rest of this article and many more top-notch articles, go to www.SuspenseMagazine.com and subscribe to the Sept./Oct. 2013 issue.
For more tips on amping up the tension, suspense, and intrigue in your novel, see Jodie's book, Writing a Killer Thriller - An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction.
Jodie Renner, a freelance fiction editor specializing in thrillers and other fast-paced fiction, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: WRITING A KILLER THRILLER and STYLE THAT SIZZLES & PACING FOR POWER (Silver Medalist in the FAPA Book Awards, 2013). Both titles are available in e-book and paperback.
For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.