Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lee Child on creating suspense

If you don't know the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child, you should.  Entertaining, fun, and always page-turning reads, these books keep you moving forward like no other.  Child has published seventeen of them so far, and the franchise still has plenty of legs.  Plus, the first movie based on one of his books, Jack Reacher, which comes from the novel, One Shot, debuts December 21.  (I'll comment later on whether the relatively short Tom Cruise manages to pull off the role of the 6'5" Reacher, but I certainly have my doubts.)  Child's writing has many strengths, but chief above them is how much they keep you reading. 

Kyle pointed me to this New York Times article from Child, in which he tackles the question of how to create suspense.  I won't attempt to summarize what he explains in relatively short order, but if you're at all interested in writing suspenseful books or understanding how they work, I recommend you check it out.

I am greatly interested in a secondary aspect of the article, which is that we so often ask the wrong question.  More on that in another post. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the article.

I've never thought about suspense as making someone hungry before. And I Can't bake worth a darn so I should have :)

As for Tom Cruise pulling off Reacher. I would say his acting does but even in the previews its clear a Large(r) man should be in his spot. It would just fit better and even if Tom does pull it off it's going to come across as Tom trying to prove he's so good of an actor that he can play any role not that he should have actually been cast in the role. A look at Me!, not a look at Reacher!


Mark said...

I fear you're right about Cruise, but I'm going to try to keep an open mind.

Kyle said...

I assume that when Child is on a "How do you create suspense?" panel at a con he just opens with, "I'll tell you how to create suspense in 59 minutes," and then sits back and smiles.

Mark said...

No, he's rather kinder and more talkative than that.

Karen Z said...

Thank you for motivating me to start reading Lee Child's novels. The article is very informative also. My only disappointment in the first novel is the spoiler given in the book blurb telling me that the first dead guy was Reacher's brother. I would rather have waiting until well into the story when Jack discovered this fact. At any rate, I have 16 more titles lined up for winter's reading!

Mark said...

Yeah, that is a most unfortunate blurb.


Blog Archive